By Ivan Raconteur
BURNSVILLE, MN Lester Prairie graduate Doris LaMott Hoel has made an indelible mark on Twin Cities fine dining. Hoel is chef and owner of a business that recently earned high honors on a prestigious best restaurant list.
No independent restaurant south of the river had been recognized in the top three of any category of Mpls/St. Paul Magazine’s best restaurant list.
That all changed this year, when Burnsville’s Chateau Lamothe placed high in not one, but two categories.
It was an exciting night for Hoel and her family when they got the news during the “best of” party last Monday.
When Hoel received the invitation, she knew they must have won something, but until they (and about 1,000 other people) arrived and saw the magazines on all the tables, they had no idea what it was.
“It was great. We beat out some amazing places,” Hoel commented, the excitement still ringing in her voice.
The Chateau was ranked second in the best wine bar category, and third for the best wine list.
Hoel opened the Chateau Lamothe in September 2005.
It features the intimate 40-seat Marceal’s Restaurant (named for her father), a wine bar, and Marguerite’s Event Center (named for her mother-in-law) that can accommodate up to 150 people for weddings, anniversaries, reunions, and other special events.
Chef Hoel also does both on and off-site catering.
Her husband, David, is the bar and front-of-house manager, and he is responsible for the award-winning wine list.
“He is the wine guru,” Doris commented. “He is always reading about wine and studying it.”
The Chateau has about 50 wines on the list, and the selection is always changing.
“He tries to find unique wines at a good price.” Doris said. “Many come from small boutique wineries.”
Some of these wineries produce very small quantities and sell only to restaurants. Doris said customers like the fact that they can always find something new and unique to try.
The Chateau specializes in great wine at a great price, Doris said.
David often features a “wine of the moment,” to showcase a wine that has just arrived and is not yet on the wine list.
One thing that does not change is the Chateau’s signature wine, which comes from a small winery in the Bordeaux region of France. It was the inspiration for the name of the Chateau, and includes both a red and a white option.
“It is fabulous,” Doris commented, adding that there is a chandelier in the Chateau made from Chateau Lamothe bottles.
The Chateau is a family business. Doris and David’s children are very involved in the operation.
Their son, Chris, tends bar, does maintenance, and handles web design and advertising duties.
Their daughter, Alyson, is assistant general manager, and is involved in all areas of the operation.
One of Chris’s ideas has been very popular with customers. In addition to the usual information such as name and vintage, the wine list includes a photo of the label from each bottle of wine on the list.
Doris said people like this because it makes it easier for them to remember what wine they had. She explained that at some places, when people buy wine by the glass, they might never see the label. The photos on the Chateau’s wine list provide a visual identification that people remember.
And, some of the labels are pretty cool, Hoel observed.
The extensive wine list gives the Chateau plenty of options when pairing wine with food, and the staff participates in ongoing training to help them make recommendations for customers.
People don’t necessarily think of Burnsville when looking for fine dining, but the Chateau is changing that perception by offering a unique experience in a convenient location. Customers enjoy easy parking and avoid the hassle of having to travel downtown.
The Chateau offers classic dinners, such as beef wellington, and lighter fare to cater to any appetite, all served in an intimate, comfortable setting.
Everything is made to order, and Doris can cater to any need, by preparing vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free options.
“That has been huge for our customers,” Doris said, explaining that because she knows exactly what is in each dish, she can adjust things for customers who have food allergies.
The opening of the new Burnsville Performing Arts Center provided a huge opportunity for the Chateau.
“We are one of only two caterers that is authorized to cater events there,” Doris said.
Doris still has family in the Lester Prairie area. Her brother, David LaMott lives in Lester Prairie, her sister, Diane Schultz, lives in Winsted, and her mother, Antoinette LaMott, lives in Silver Lake.
Want to experience the Chateau?
Chateau Lamothe is located at 14351 Nicollec Court in Burnsville. More information is available by calling (952) 435-7709, or on the company's web site, www.ChateauLamotheEvents.com.