French bistro and bakery promises ‘comfort in simplicity’
One of the country’s most anticipated restaurants of the year is now open – in Wayzata.
Bellecour, the second restaurant from James Beard Award winning chef Gavin Kaysen, debuts March 15 to a long list of patrons excited to experience the French bistro on Lake Minnetonka.
“Wayzata is a really fun, vibrant community to me,” Kaysen said, seated at a corner table in the freshly overhauled 5,800-square-foot space. “I love the idea of something like a French bistro being near a lake, and I like the idea of the bakery being on the sidewalk – close to all the boats and the people coming off the water.”
The new restaurant is named after the town center of Place Bellecour in Lyon, the food capital of France and hometown to culinary giants Daniel Boulud and Paul Bocuse – both close friends and mentors to Kaysen. Among the artwork on display at Bellecour are photographs from Kaysen and Boulud’s childhoods.
“I’ve been cooking French foods since I was 15. … It’s something that’s really true and dear to what I’ve always done,” Kaysen said.
Over the years, the chef, who was raised in Bloomington, has garnered international praise for his work.
After graduating in 2001 from the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont, Kaysen worked at Domaine Chandon in Yountville, California; L’Auberge de Lavaux in Lausanne, Switzerland; and the renowned L’Escargot in London. He then took over as executive chef at El Bizcocho in San Diego, where he was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs.
In late 2007, Kaysen joined Chef Boulud as chef de cuisine of Café Boulud in New York City, where he later earned the James Beard Rising Star Chef award and a Michelin star.
In 2014, Kaysen moved back to Minnesota to open Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood. It quickly became one of the Twin Cities’ most popular restaurants and gained such accolades as being named a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best New Restaurant.
But for Bellecour, Kaysen wasn’t interested in simply transplanting Spoon and Stable into the suburbs.
“It’s 100 percent different. … It’s like when you have kids, you never want your kids to be exactly the same,” the chef said. “This one will grow into its own personality.”
Kaysen said the menu at Bellecour will change less often than Spoon and Stable’s menu.
“Of course, the food is totally different because it’s a French bistro, whereas Spoon is much more rooted in American gastronomy and using French technique,” he said.
At Bellecour, guests will find Kaysen’s interpretations of classic French dishes. Menu highlights include roast chicken with pommes puree and buttered baby leeks; escargot en croute with garlic and parsley butter and fennel crème fraiche; and whipped salt cod brandade with confit garlic, fried parsley and toasted bread.
Robb Jones, bar director at Spoon and Stable, leads the restaurant’s bar with an emphasis on French liqueurs and spirits and classic techniques, as well as a selection of low-proof cocktails. Nico Giraud is in charge of the wine list, which focuses on French varietals. Spoon and Stable Pastry Chef Diane Yang, a James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef Semifinalist, runs the bakery and the restaurant’s dessert menu, which features classic French desserts like crème brulee and chocolate soufflé.
After looking at dozens of potential spaces, Kaysen said is was a gut feeling that led his decision to choose the 739 Lake St. E. location in downtown Wayzata. The space was one once home to Blue Point Restaurant & Oyster Bar, which closed in 2015 after nearly 30 years in business. Before that, the space belonged to French restaurant Chouette.
The design of the 140-seat restaurant (plus another 40 when the patio is open) is a collaboration with Linda Kaysen, who is the chef’s wife, Shea Design and Zeman Construction. The trio also worked together on the look and feel of Spoon and Stable.
“The intention is really to make a restaurant that’s welcoming and inviting and sort of timeless,” Kaysen said.
Kaysen announced his plans for his new restaurant back in June. And ever since, the buzz around the new dining destination has only grown – as evidenced by an immediately inundated wait list. According to the website OpenTable, the restaurant booked more than 1,200 reservations in its first six hours. In 24 hours, the restaurant was nearly fully booked for its first two months.
“It’s pretty insane,” Kaysen said while looking at the list from behind his laptop.
For those who didn’t snag a reservation, Bellecour’s bar and lounge seats 30 on a first-come, first-served basis.
Bellecour’s bakery is open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. daily, with dinner served 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 5-9 p.m. Sunday. The bar opens at 4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Lunch service is expected to begin in May.
For more information, to make a reservation or see the menu, visit bellecourrestaurant.com or call 952-444-5200.
Contact Jason Jenkins at [email protected]