The 'be seen' scene

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July 4, 2005 // UPDATED 1:56 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Ellen Gabler
Ellen Gabler

Bellanote is where the beautiful people hang

Bellanotte, 600 Hennepin Ave. S., 339-7200,

Don't be confused - although it seems like it, this is not a beauty contest or style show. This is Bellanotte.

Guys and girls in their sharpest duds pack the trendy restaurant/bar that backs up to the Target Center on 1st Ave. Although known for its food, Bellanotte also has a seriously bumping nightlife.

If you want to "be seen" - and this is your type of scene - there's no doubt Bellanotte is the place to be.

What's hot

Summertime and Bellanotte are a perfect match. An enormous outdoor patio creates a social atmosphere that escalates throughout the night. And atmosphere is what Bellanotte is all about. Sure the drinks are a little more expensive than some other Downtown watering holes, but it's that trendy feel and grand company you're paying for, said Ben Anderson, a Bellanotte bartender.

Plus, he added, "This place brings in the most beautiful women."

There's no doubt Bellanotte is a high-class hangout. The dcor is cool, and even though it gets crowded, (good-looking male) bartenders are waiting to pour you drinks as fast as they can.

What's not

Any place that's described over and over by employees and patrons as "the place to be seen," raises an eyebrow from the Pretentiousness Police. I mean, come on, it is just another joint to slurp back booze and hang out.

However, people line up, literally, for the chance to get in. A queue 15-deep often snakes from Bellanotte's doors after 11 p.m. on Friday or Saturday nights.

The scene

The "scene" is definitely what draws people to Bellanotte. The 310-seat dining area inside is cozy yet cool, and there are several bars to hit up if you're just looking for liquid refreshment. Inside, there are fireplaces, as well as a wine tower with 288 different varieties.

Bellanotte's huge outdoor patio makes this a natural stop for any crowd that doesn't want to have to fight too hard for spot under the stars. Early in the night, groups of friends and couples cluster at patio tables, but later on, people start to mix.

Don't expect things to get too crazy here. There's no official dance floor, although sometimes people dance anyway. Plus, most people are too busy checking their reflections in the window and scoping the scene to really break it down.

The crowd

You aren't likely to find college kids and young, 20-somethings hanging out here. Mostly it's people in their late 20s, or 30s and 40s, and usually dressed to a "t."

Dawn, 34, said she's found Bellanotte to be "kind of a beautiful-people place" that draws a lot of divorcees in their 30s and 40s.

Although you wouldn't be entirely wrong, don't think of Bellanotte as just a "desperate housewives meat-market." Beyond a substantial number of Botox-users and fake tanners, there are also solid groups of attractive singles, as well as married couples out for a night on the town.

Drinks & hours

Bellanotte doesn't stock the cheap stuff - rail drinks come with high-end booze like Stoli or Bicardi, and range in price from $5.75-$6.75. There's no draft beer, only bottles from $4.50-$5.50.

If you want to test out the high-class joint on the cheap (well, sort of), try happy hour, Monday-Friday, 4-6 p.m. Then, it's $4 for selected appetizers, and $2 for drinks well drinks, red and white house wines, and domestic bottles of beer.

There's no cover charge, except for special events, and yes, you can smoke outside.

The verdict

If you shirk spray-on-tans and "making the scene," you can probably name five bars you'd rather hang out at than Bellanotte. However, if you're searching for a trendy, upscale spot that's littered with a bunch of good-looking people, step right up.