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

What's it like to film a TV travel show? I joined the crew of "Travels With Darley" to find out.

The question rang out like a cowbell through the French Alps: "Where did Darley go?"  The host of PBS's "Travels With Darley" was missing. She was last seen at the bottom of Isola 2000, a ski resort about 55 miles north of Nice. A member of the ski patrol released a stream of French into a walkie-talkie, his words punctuated...
Marriott’s new loyalty program: not as bad as Starwood fans feared

In the nearly 2 1/2 years since Marriott announced its intention to acquire Starwood Hotels and Resorts, the parent of Westin, Sheraton and W, skeptical customers of both companies have waited impatiently for answers to the following question: Just how many rewards and perks would Marriott take away from the 110 million members when it combined the...
Stewart Airport adopts a new identity: New York area’s budget flight hub

NEW WINDSOR, N.Y. — As the baggage claim area at New York Stewart International Airport filled with passengers arriving from Dublin last month, the airport’s manager of business development, Michael Torelli, shook his head with delight.  “Awesome,” he said of the crowd.   Just two years earlier, the airport, 67...
Where to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara, California's chefs have the natural advantage of an abundance of fresh produce from the Central Valley, a robust wine industry and a nearly perfect climate. These attributes have lured restaurateurs from San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles to the city's thriving dining scene, but natives tend to prefer spots with deep roots in the...
Answers to your top questions about traveling to Europe

Planning a trip to Europe can be daunting for the novice traveler, as evidenced by the many questions readers ask us. We combed through the past several years of chat transcripts to put together representative examples of our most frequent queries and expanded upon our responses.  Q: I have never visited Europe, but I want to go and have put aside...
More Stories