“I want to try Bellecour, but they’re booked out like two months.”
I heard a man say this to his bicycling companion as they cruised past me on Wayzata Bay Saturday. That seems to be the general feeling about Gavin Kaysen’s new French bistro-bakery thing: “Someday.”
Why? It’s as if people don’t realize the bakery is open and doesn’t take reservations. It’s as if people don’t realize that the same effort and creativity you’d expect from the dinner menu is being exampled in a bakery you could hit up right now*. I’m serious. You could be in and out in two minutes if there’s no line, or even a small line.
If you’re like me, and had historically considered pastries an afterthought, this bakery is going to give you one hell of a ride.
The Basics: Gavin Kaysen, French, Lake Minnetonka. Chances are, you’ve heard about and had a reaction to the now-open Bellecour on Wayzata’s Lake St. If you’ve been scared off by what you think will be excessively-priced food or hoity-toity surroundings, I beseech you step inside one morning and sit down with a croissant. The bakery is open Tuesday-Sunday, starting at 7 a.m. (*so maybe not RIGHT now). Everything you need to know can be found on the Bellecour website.
First things first: I didn’t even like croissants. To this point, my only experiences with croissants had come in Pillsbury tubes or gas station breakfast sandwiches. Croissants had always been kind of, well, croisssad. This croissant, though, looked fabulous! I’d never seen a croissant do that before. I mean, look at it. They sure as hell don’t look like that when they come out of the Pillsbury tubes.
I’m still figuring out these … croissants … but here’s what I know now. You’ll want to eat this at the bakery, or at least not in the car. There were no single-bite chocolate bombs, and no flavorless dead zones. How a pastry could be this precise, I’ve no idea. You need to have one of these with a coffee (Lavazza Coffee: Italy’s favorite coffee!) at least once in your life. It made me ask myself, “Is this what I’ve been missing out on this whole time?” Perhaps it was, but not anymore. In that sense, you could say this breakfast was life-changing.
Even when you can look over from your seat and see a line at the register, Bellecour feels empty in the morning. Only six small tables are available at the bakery. They were all full. It was busy, but it was quiet. French music played quietly, and I don’t mean berets and seductive accents. I mean rock music, but in French; Dean Martin-esque crooning, but in French; pop music, but in French. Throughout my stay, I kept mouthing to nobody in particular: “This is f*cking cool.” Another bite of croissant.
My seat pointed me at a long, unlit, barren bar. Between bites, I looked out the front window (not exactly scenic – it faces a nail salon) and read the spines of cocktail books on a shelf over the bar. The Bar Book. Paris Cocktails. Why are they there? Are we seriously expecting someone to spin around and flip one open at a moment’s notice back there? Should we be? On the other side, behind my back, the dining room appears to have gotten out of bed beautiful. Wine glasses are everywhere, everywhere. Tables are already set for the first guests, or perhaps to impress window-shoppers (of which there were many). The clanging of metal and the swishing of water can be heard from the kitchen in back.
It was full, but I didn’t hear anyone speak until I did so myself. Of course I leaned over to my neighbors and asked what they’d ordered. A gentleman, with a red turtleneck made of what weird sweat-wicking material, said it was an orange coffee cake. His wife knew what was up.
“I sense coveting!” she said.
“I am coveting!” I said. “There’s definitely coveting!”
Do you blame me?
I had that orange coffee cake on my second visit, and it was justified coveting indeed. A thin slice of orange hides in powder up top, as if waiting to ambush you. It’s more of a citrus love tap. Underneath the crunchy top is a gooey, sticky, bread base that hearkened back to when I would swipe freshly-made cakes out of my mother’s kitchen and eat them before they cooled off. The reward was two-fold: not only did I get it at its absolute freshest, I also got to lick some off of my fingers.
This can be taken out of the shop. It’s just as effective on a park bench as it would be at a seat in the bakery. I’ve also ordered a vanilla-stuffed brioche, but my wife didn’t share it. She really liked it, though.
It’s just counter service on the bakery side, but service is prompt. The most expensive item I’ve purchased so far is the croissant, at $4.50. A cinnamon swirl brioche loaf costs $5. A large coffee is $3. There are sandwiches available as well, that run between $8 and $9. If you’re intimidated by the dinner menu pricing, or you want to be sure before you put your name on the list and start dreaming of that fava bean agnolotti, the bakery is a great way to let yourself know what you’re in for at Bellecour.
Of course, you might find their bakery goods to be revelation enough on its own.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This has been updated to reflect Bellecour’s correct hours.
RELATED: If you’re in need of some good podcastin’, check out the episode I recorded on a boat while cruising Lake Minnetonka!