Surf and Turf at Monte’s Steak House
Last night we joined up with Josh, Chris and Laura at Monte’s Steak House in Faribault, MN for a night of dinner and some live music. With about 65 menu options this place is a jack of all trades but checking their website before arriving I wondered if they would be a master of any. I was especially concerned that they have sandwiches priced as low as $7.99 and top end items such as their Deluxe Surf and Turf for $37.99.
We arrived just after 7 due to Josh assuming he knew where the restaurant would be and were expecting Chris and Laura to be late but they surprised us with being at least 10 minutes early! The parking lot was crowded and we had to wait for someone to back out before we could squeeze in. There is also on street parking available but it was also filled. Obviously this fairly new restaurant in town is quite popular.
We walked in to a crowded entryway with people waiting to be seated. I’m quite glad we had reservations! We were seated immediately and a waitress came over to clean the water spots from the table before bringing us our menus. We spent this time looking over the multi-million dollar renovations that were done to the building. We all agreed that it was very well done and a really comfortable atmosphere. While we were seated near the large windows at a table, there are several booths near the kitchen and an additional section in the rear near the bar. From what I could see, every table was filled tonight.
Kim and I had already pretty much decided on what we wanted before we arrived but I did ask the waitress if she recommended the NY Strip or the Kansas City Strip and she immediately mentioned the NY Strip so that’s what I went with — rare of course. Chris went with the filet mignon, bleu cheese crusted and Josh went with their Surf and Turf (not the deluxe) and also had his bleu cheese crusted. Chris and I asked for the onions and mushrooms (extra charge). Kim went with the reuben and the walleye bites appetizer. Laura went with the Craisen grilled chicken salad with raspberry vinaigrette instead of the suggested poppyseed dressing.
They offer several potato options including garlic mashed, baked, loaded baked ($2 extra), or horseradish hashbrowns as well as a Caesar or side salad. Chris, Josh and I went with the hashbrowns which the waitress suggested to me over the garlic mashed.
Josh and Chris ordered beer but Josh had to ask again for his. We got our other drinks but the refills took 40 minutes. We didn’t see any other servers in our immediate area and believed that our waitress was a bit overwhelmed with the crowd tonight which obviously delayed our refills and expected pampering. Our salads came out with the refills and I found the raspberry vinaigrette to be completely overpowering and too sweet. It was almost like pouring raspberry flavored syrup over my greens. Laura was a little concerned that it would be on her dinner salad and Kim suggested she have it on the side (which is how my side salad’s was and how Laura’s entrée arrived later).
Kim’s walleye bites appetizer arrived and I found it to be more fried than fish. Kim said it was ok but wouldn’t order it again. It certainly doesn’t live up to our expectations for something as simple as walleye bites. This morning, on our way back from Northfield where we spent the night, she mentioned that she didn’t think that the 8 or 9 bites were worth the $8 charge. I didn’t have enough of them to draw any conclusions other than it was your typical over-breaded fried bar food that you could pick up at any Minnesota restaurant.
Our orders came out about 50 minutes after we sat down and mine was marked with a stick that said “m. rare” and the waitress asked that I cut into it and see if I liked how it was done. It was almost medium and certainly not what I ordered and looking at Chris’ and Josh’s, it appeared their’s were perfectly cooked so mine was obviously just a simple mistake on a busy night. The waitress said she would take it back and have them cook me another and Josh said, “at least rare doesn’t take that long to cook!” Sure enough, less than 10 minutes later my steak was back on my plate (although not quite as nicely presented as Chris and Josh’s) and cooked nearly perfectly.
The horseradish hashbrowns that we were so excited to try (as the three of us are huge horseradish fans) had absolutely no horseradish flavor at all and we all agreed that if someone hadn’t told us it had horseradish in it we wouldn’t have been at all the wiser. We were all pretty disappointed and Chris kept asking, jokingly, where his horseradish was. I seriously think that IHOP has better hashbrowns as these were greasy and almost tasteless. I continued to eat straight through hoping that I would catch just a glimpse of that promised horseradish but it never appeared, bummer.
Josh said that his meal was great and he was very pleased with how the meat was cooked but he was absolutely disgusted with the butter for the lobster saying it tasted like imitation movie popcorn butter but he was just as happy to eat his lobster tail sans the butter.
Laura thought there was supposed to be toasted candied walnuts on her salad but it showed up without. When she asked the waitress about it the waitress gave her a curt, “no, that’s on the other salad,” (the waitress was wrong according to the salad menu) but then asked if she wanted the nuts on the side. Laura took her up on the offer but when they arrived they were not candied or pecans but were plain walnuts much to Laura’s disappointment. The salad was all right overall and she said the chicken was great and the Craisens were plentiful — a big plus in her book. She finished it all (I believe that’s a first that I have ever seen) so it was obviously better than what she ate when we went to Stephano’s in Burnsville — not that it would be difficult to top.
Chris believed his filet was as large as Josh’s (which should have only been a 6 oz) so either Josh’s was too large or his was too small. However after finishing, he didn’t think it was worth the $28. “It was just all right,” he said.
Kim and Laura ordered a split a Chocolate Flourless Torte which is described as a heavenly and rich chocolate lover’s dream with raspberry coulis. Kim and Laura absolutely loved the treat and I found it to be fantastic as well. A great dessert always lifts Kim’s spirits after dinner and it obviously runs in the family as Laura seemed pretty happy afterwards as well.
They do have a really nice club location in the basement where they offer free live music that we took advantage of last night. The bar downstairs didn’t have any beer on tap but had a decent selection of bottled beer that included Finnegans which I chose to start (my first non-light beer since August — I finished with Bud Select, bleh). The bar is really nice with a bunch of small tables and a small stage. The band, The Key West Rejects played some great covers and did a really nice job. We were pretty impressed with their singing, guitar playing and harmonica skills but disappointed as the Monte’s Underground event calendar said they were a cover band that played songs from Pink Floyd and the Stones and they didn’t play much from the 60s and 70s at all, instead concentrating on the mid to late 90s. The acoustics down there were phenomenal for a basement space and a pretty low ceiling. We had a superb time at Monte’s Underground and all agreed that it was certainly not a bad way to end an average dinner experience.
Now, you might be asking why we would drive ~45 minutes to visit a random restaurant in Faribault instead of sticking to our “Cities” comfort zone. Well, this trek stemmed solely from an e-mail I received from the owner, Frank Marzario, asking how they could get listed on our website. I let them know that we just had to eat there and that we’d probably be down in late January or early February. Knowing that Josh usually comes up our way to eat out with us, it was nice to end up closer to his place this time. When the owner viewed the site he looked at both Osaka Seafood and Steakhouse and Kami Japanese Steakhouse so he knew what my posts are normally like and we’re surprised he wanted to be a part of that for his place. Kim said, “any publicity is good publicity I guess.”
We really believe that Monte’s could be *great*. The renovated building is gorgeous and the restaurant is really eye-catching both inside and out. Unfortunately, as it stands today, the food is just all right and a bit on the pricey side, especially for Faribault, and for what ended up on our plates last night. They really are trying but I think it will take just a bit more to get this to be the “destination dining location” their website claims they happen to be. Monte’s Underground, however, was certainly a great time and we would definitely return there. Kim and Laura felt that it had a comedy club look and I would guess if they brought in a couple of comedians it might just help to draw us back again.
Perhaps we’ll revisit Monte’s in a year for another night out in Faribault to see how things have progressed. I really wish Frank the best as Monte’s Steak House could really be everything he wants it to be — and more.
See all the pictures from Monte’s Steak House here (camera).