First off, let’s say: A lot of things are named L’etoile du Nord in Minnesota right now. There’s the recently opened Minneapolis distillery and cocktail room called Du Nord, and now this Bayport café, and the two are not at all related. But you’re going to want to keep in mind that the two are separate and unique because L’Etoile du Nord Café in Bayport looks like something special, something to build a weekend road trip around if you like Belgian beer, coffee, liege waffles, crepes, salads, moules frites, or blood orange mimosas. Do you like those things? Then ducky, you lucky ducky, disambiguation is going to be your new best road-tripping friend.
L’Etoile du Nord Café is the newest project by Belgian bicycling and coffee fan Oliver Vrambout, formerly the force behind dear departed St. Croix river-adjacent spots The Bikery and later The Bikery du Nord. This new location is the best Vrambout has ever had, in center-city Bayport (right next door to Bayport BBQ) with a clean and clear interior design full of white tiles, big beautiful Belgian ale bottles, and pretty modern tables, which reads as center-city somewhere in vacation-fantasy-Europe.
I stopped in over the weekend for lunch, as so far the spot is breakfast and lunch only, though I’m told they plan to add weekend dinners soon. I was nothing short of dazzled by the things I tried. Coffee, roasted on site, was lush, fresh, deep, dark, and not at all over-roasted or over-extracted. Belgian hot chocolate served with a big spoonful of fresh whipped cream was little short of a sensual wallop, KO’ing the pleasure centers. Plus, fresh blood orange mimosas like crimson joy, salads flecked with wisps of apple shaved so thin you could read the newspaper through them, roast strips of carrot as meaty and intense as all-day-smoked ribs, glistening with the perkiest and most appealing dressing of kumquat and cream.
And the pizzas! The one I tried had a headline-worthy crust, appropriate for the attention of any Pizzeria Lola super fan, all smoke, char, and clean, good bread flavors. I had the Lonza, with a sweet and spicy Indian-inspired sauce, soft leeks, eggs, and gobs of just-melted fresh mozzarella. It was all of a dozen sensual textures. I also tried the liege waffles, those Belgian specialties made in such a way that they have a microscopic layer of caramelized sugar on every surface, and they, too, were swoon worthy, especially with a house-made chocolate and nut spread, which is a fancy cousin to Nutella, and a syrup from spiced poached pears.
I was also impressed with the little spot’s array of Belgian ales, in big bottles and on tap, including Seef, Timmermans, and Kwak. And I promised myself I’d be back for the Friday special of moules frites—if it’s anywhere near as good as everything else I tried, it will be worth the drive.
And the disambiguation.
320 5th Ave. N., Bayport, 651-439-7507, letoiledunordcafe.com