In a Minneapolis suburb, French cuisine, tradition and charm

Gavin Kaysen, previously the chef de cuisine at Café Boulud in New York, where he earned the James Beard Rising Star Chef Award and a Michelin star, returned to his Minnesota hometown in 2014 to open Minneapolis’ revered Spoon and Stable. This March, he added to his portfolio by opening Bellecour in the Minneapolis suburb of Wayzata; since then, it has become a destination for foodies and Francophiles across the Twin Cities and beyond. 

He named the bistro after a historic town square in Lyon, France, hometown to Daniel Boulud and Paul Bocuse, both mentors to Kaysen. (“My time with Daniel was my Ph.D. in this business,” he said.) Indeed, Bellecour pays homage to friends and family who were instrumental in Kaysen’s success. Tributes are sprinkled throughout the restaurant: French fry cones are emblazoned with quotes from Bocuse; the signature house coffee blend is named after Kaysen’s grandmother, Dorothy; a framed photo of her handwritten recipes adorns a wall of the bakery, which serves fresh pastries starting at 7 a.m.  

The inviting, airy space is in a prime spot on Lake Street, steps from Lake Minnetonka. Kaysen’s wife, Linda, collaborated on the interior, which features an open kitchen and intimate dining spaces, including a garden room and an outdoor patio, with a sophisticated yet relaxed vibe. “Bellecour is the brother that you’re always happy to go hang out with,” Gavin Kaysen said. “I want it to always mimic that comfort.”  

On a Sunday evening in July in the 84-seat dining room, our meal began with herby cocktails including the Chouette 75, a variation on the French 75 with herbes de Provence syrup and floating violets. Hors d’oeuvres included a buttery standout of house-smoked salmon with salmon roe, pickled red onion, olive rice crackers and playful dots of chive crème fraîche.  

Kaysen likes to riff on classic French dishes, and does so with panache. The locally sourced duck à l’orange, dry aged for eight to 14 days, is set atop a bed of creamy Parmesan polenta with thin sheets of turnips. Nicolas Giraud, the director of wines and a Burgundy native, paired the dish with a stunning Beaujolais from the 1,200-bottle cellar. Succulent short rib on the bone, sourced from neighboring Wisconsin, is braised overnight, grilled and smoked; mushroom duxelles and sauce au poivre add the requisite French touches. Cauliflower rôti, softened on the spit for two hours, with capers, raisins and Madras curry, served as a perfect side dish to share.  

Our table also raved about the gluten-free chocolate opera cake with espresso buttercream and candied almonds from executive pastry chef Diane Yang, a James Beard Award semifinalist for outstanding pastry chef.  

“French food is not food in itself; it’s the experience of hospitality,” Kaysen said. “It’s why their Sunday lunch is six hours long. It’s not about the food, it’s about the family and the traditions that are then created from those Sundays. And I just love that.”  


Additional Information:  

Bellecour, 739 Lake St. East, Wayzata, Minn.; 952-444-5200; An average dinner for two, without drinks or tip, is about $110.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Travel

Wellington’s making moves in the world of ‘slow fashion’
Wellington’s making moves in the world of ‘slow fashion’

Art can be inspired by many things, but for fashion designers Anabella Montgomery and Kate Hannah the inspiration comes mostly from people and places. And lately, their muse can be found in Palm Beach County. The two women own Elizabeth, a Colorado-based label sold at Hannah’s store, Tula. The women’s clothing brand...
US travel industry launches plan to reverse tourism decline

NEW YORK (AP) — Travel industry representatives sounded an alarm Tuesday over declines in international tourism to the U.S. and announced plans to reverse the trend.  Organizers of the new Visit U.S. Coalition portrayed the decline as long-term, going back to 2015, and said they would work with the Trump administration to reverse the decline...
Can't remove the lithium battery from your smart luggage? Then consider it grounded.

If you own smart luggage, you should test its intelligence as soon as possible. The IQ exam that matters - if you can take out its lithium battery.  On Monday, airlines including American, Alaska, Hawaiian, Delta, United and Southwest will no longer allow passengers to fly with smart bags that contain nonremovable lithium batteries. The policy...
Following in the footsteps of fictional character Doc Ford
Following in the footsteps of fictional character Doc Ford

Darkness has descended over the southwest Florida swamps as I ease my rental car into the parking lot of Tarpon Lodge on Pine Island. Grabbing my bag, I head for the marina to meet up with Captain Jack La Plante, whose boat will be my ride over to Cabbage Key. As we skim across Pine Island Sound on a moonless night, I let my imagination run wild and...
How to plan your family's first international vacation

It is exponentially easier to plan a trip with kids to somewhere you've been before than it is to plot an adventure someplace new. I was forced to acknowledge this last spring as I struggled to map out my family's itinerary for a three-week, three-country European vacation. Plan a skiing, camping and hiking trip in the American West, where I was born...
More Stories