RIP Bellanotte

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The Strib's Tom Horgen reports that Bellanotte has closed. It seems only yesterday that I was receiving a press release about the restaurant's 2004 opening--one which spelled the name Bellanoote--or catching a glimpse of Rashad McCant's neck tattoo. But in recent years the cool crowds that once flocked to Bellanotte have moved on to trendier environs, leaving the Block E bar/restaurant to high school promgoers and dowdy traveling salesmen. The owners have all opened other restaurants (brothers Kam and Keyvan Talebi own Crave, David Koch has Seven, and Randy Norman will soon open Om), and having bankrupt auto dealer Denny Hecker hold a 51 percent stake in the restaurant couldn't have helped its financial situation.

From the looks of the Strib comments section, it's unlikely the restaurant will be missed:

Uh-oh At which restaurant are NBA players going to pick up the local skankdom of gold diggers now?

Free Market at Work
Once 'Over-priced' - now just 'Over'

Good
One less DT place filled with D-bags giving the peace sign during photos, wearing ridiculous striped button down shirts, fake tans, shaved chests, HUGE sunglasses (at night by the way), and barbed wire tattoos (actually, you can't see those tattoos with the button down shirts, the guys with the barbed wire tattoos are wearing affliction t-shirts...my mistake)

Still, while Bellanotte was never really about the food (in its defense, I've had some decent plates there), there was a time when it was one of the Twin Cities hottest scenes for status-seekers, perhaps best memorialized in my pal Tim Gihring's piece, Well Above Average.


Minnesota's creeping immodesty isn't limited to lakes, of course. On a Saturday night, I head to Bellanotte, the downtown Minneapolis restaurant and bar whose curb is generally lined with Lexuses, Hummers, and the odd Rolls-Royce. It opened in 2004, incidentally the year Minnesota's per capita income peaked, and if there is a place to covet and be coveted in the Twin Cities, this is it. I once saw a tiny fiftysomething dude in a cranberry-colored zoot suit and a shark's tooth around his neck emerge from a sports car with a bottle-blonde half his age and nearly twice his height. Here, it seems, anything is possible, given a long enough line of credit.

I pull up behind a Maserati and a monster truck that I fear hasn't yet eaten its daily ration of Hondas. A customer shouts at the valets: "Where my Lex at?" And I ask the valets how people here demonstrate their status. "What does that tell you?" one says, pointing to a monster truck. It's yellow, painted with flames and a single word: Crave. "It's all about the flash."

Inside, the bar is packed with women in little dresses and men in big watches. The latter hang back a bit from the bar, observing, shark-like, in the shadows. The place is darker than the inside of a wallet.

Who are these people? And where were they hanging out before this place opened? Miami? California? Probably not. More likely these flashy folks are us: Minnesotans playing at pretension, no longer afraid to showboat. With practice, perhaps we won't look so ridiculous.

A 40-ish man in a navy blazer, his remaining hair slicked back, enters the restaurant with a young brunette on one arm and an even younger-looking blonde on the other. Later, by the bar, he kisses the dark-haired one and slips his arm around the blonde's waist. If you're in the market for a sugar daddy, this is the place. "A lot of our clientele are recently divorced men," the valet tells me, "old guys looking to pick up something young."

Just then, a gaggle of women wearing blue, glow-in-the-dark penis necklaces practically fall out of the bar onto the sidewalk. "Who wants a condom?" cries the ringleader, holding one up and looking over at me. And that's when I realize I'm practically leaning on the Maserati. If this is what a $110,000 car gets you in Minneapolis, I'm out. Where my Honda at?


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