I had set up a morning appointment with a dealer in Minot, ND and arrived the evening before. I stayed at a Fairfield Inn on the outskirts of the town and the choices for restaurants in the immediate area were limited to chains, such as Buffalo Wings and Rings - a knock-off of Buffalo Wild Wings; and Paradiso - a North Dakota five-location chain of Mexican restaurants. I asked the young lady at the front desk of the Fairfield Inn where I could get a really good meal in town. She didn't hesitate and replied, "Oh, you'll want to go to 10 North Main. It's downtown and it's very good. It's, by far, the best restaurant for miles around." She gave me quick directions and I took off toward downtown Minot.
Even beyond the restaurants around the hotel, there's not much to choose from in Minot. And that's probably why four guys who grew up in Minot chose to open a fine dining establishment in town. Friends Chad Schmidt, Jon Peterson, Josh Duhamel and Lance Behm opened the restaurant in January of 2005. Schmidt is the managing partner of the restaurant while Peterson is the chef. Behm is a local Minot dentist and Duhamel, well, he's a somewhat famous Hollywood actor.
Josh Duhamel (pronounced Duh-MEL) grew up in Minot and has starred in the movie "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!" (he played Tad Hamilton), as well as in both of the Transformers movies (a third Transformers movie is coming out next year). For four seasons, Duhamel was also seen on the television drama "Las Vegas". But he's possibly most famous as being the husband of Stacy Ferguson, a.k.a. "Fergie" who fronted the group "The Black Eyed Peas". I understand that Duhamel and Fergie make it back to Minot from time to time (I believe his parents - his father was an advertising salesman and his mother was a teacher - still live in town) and dine at 10 North Main when in town. As one of my dealers in North Dakota told me, "I can't believe a guy from North Dakota married Fergie!"
"Good Food and Nice Drinks" is the motto for 10 North Main. It's situated in a building - at 10 North Main, naturally - just across from the Soo Line Train and Transportation Museum in downtown Minot (see map). The exterior of the building is a mixture of brick, stained glass windows on the first level and large tinted windows that light up the second level of the restaurants.
It was just after 8 p.m. on a warm North Dakota evening when I stopped into 10 North Main. Two 20-something girls were at the hostess stand and I remarked to them, "I understand this is the best restaurant in Minot."
They sort of looked at one of another and one of the girls said, "Well, yeah, I guess so." It was not quite the ringing endorsement I expected to hear after my statement. One of the girls took me to a two-seat table along a short wall and dropped off a menu. My waitress for the evening, Anna - a cherub-faced young lady with pig tails in her hair - came by to greet me. If someone were to say, "Show me a typical, wholesome North Dakota girl", Anna would be the one. I told her that I would probably have some wine with dinner, but for the time being I really needed a Bud Light. Well, actually, I needed two. It had been a long drive out to Minot from Grand Forks.
The interior of the restaurant was warm and inviting giving it a very laid back feel to the place. The dining room was segmented into three areas - I sat in the middle area - and there was a small bar area in the front corner of the restaurant with one of the stained glass windows helping provide light to the bar. I'm not good at describing furnishings, but the place sort of had a contemporary antique look to it - if there is such a thing.
The menu at 10 North Main was an interesting mix of beef, pasta dishes, smoked entrees including smoked duck and smoked pheasant, and a handful of both seafood and fresh water fish entrees to choose from. I was hoping the food would be as good as the menu was making it sound.
Anna came back and told me that they were out of prime rib for the evening - that was fine, I wasn't going to do prime rib - and she told me of a couple specials that I immediately lost interest in. I told her that I needed a little time to look through the menu and she went to wait on other people. I was looking at a couple three items on the menu. First on my list of interest was the bison New York strip - a 12 oz. lean piece of North Dakota-raised bison, seasoned and grilled over white oak wood. But I'd had a steak the night before at The Toasted Frog in Grand Forks and I wasn't certain I wanted steak two nights in a row.
I was also looking at getting a half rack of the smoked baby-back ribs at 10 North Main. The menu said they topped the ribs with a homemade "sweet and snarky" barbecue sauce. I was tempted to find out what sweet and snarky tasted like. Lastly, I thought briefly about getting the Chilean sea bass - a sauteed sea bass filet served with asparagus. But thinking that it's a long way from Chile to Minot, ND, I decided to stay local.
Anna came back and I told her that I wanted to start out with 10 North Main's caprese salad, then I had to quickly decide between the bison strip steak or the ribs. If it's cooked right, bison steaks are pretty damn good. I was hoping that would be the case and I ordered the bison steak - rare. A side of garlic-mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley also came with the steak.
I asked Anna to leave the wine list as I was probably going to get a glass of wine or two with my meal. The wine list was surprising featuring dozens of very good wines at somewhat reasonable prices. Also surprising was the amount of wines they featured by the glass. A full bottle of the Liberty School cabernet was $25 dollars, a fair price for a good-valued wine that we like to drink at home from time to time. I knew I couldn't drink a full bottle of wine, but one of the many wines by the glass they featured at 10 North Main was the Liberty School cab for $7.00. When Anna came back with my caprese salad and a basket of bread, I told her that I'd like a glass of that. "Good choice," she said as she scribbled down my wine order.
The caprese salad was good, but not quite as good as the one I had in Grand Forks the night before. The tomatoes weren't as ripened as the one at The Toasted Frog, but 10 North Main's caprese salad had a hefty amount of fresh basil on top and a lot more mozzarella cheese than the one from Grand Forks. The fresh basil and wonderful mozzarella more than made up for the under-ripened tomatoes.
I do also want to mention the homemade bread with the garlic/parmesan butter at 10 North Main. Outstanding! I made short work of the two pieces Anna had brought out with the salad and was afraid to get more because I didn't want to be eating bread instead of my steak. Actually, what was more addicting was the garlic/parmesan butter. I slathered both pieces with the butter and happily wolfed it down.
Not long after I finished my caprese salad, Anna brought out my steak. I thought it looked sort of small for a 12 oz. steak, but there wasn't really anything I could do about it. I was also afraid that it was over-cooked from the char-marks on the outside. But I cut into the steak and it was definitely rare.
I'm glad I got the bison strip because after the bad cut of meat I had at The Toasted Frog the night before I needed a good piece of beef to make things right in my world. And it was a great piece of meat - tender, lean and about as juicy as a piece of bison can be. The seasoning on the steak was sort of a mixture of salt, garlic, pepper and some other spices. It worked well with the taste of the meat.
The garlic mashed potatoes were OK, nothing really special to get excited about. I had a couple bites of potatoes and a couple bites of the vegetable medley. The medley of sliced carrots, zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower were cooked just right - warm, yet with a crunch with each bite.
I was thoroughly impressed with my meal at 10 North Main. This is a restaurant that could easily hold it's own in a much larger city. I'm hoping that the people in Minot know just how good this place is and don't take it for granted. In a city full of buffet and family restaurants, along with fast food and regional chain establishments, 10 North Main stands out as being one of the best restaurants in not only the city of Minot, but in the whole state of North Dakota.