L’Etoile du Nord Cafe in Bayport has closed.
The charmer, owned by chef Olivier Vrambout and his wife Julia Kaemmer, opened in 2015 after the couple channeled two years of sweat equity -- and lots of recycled materials -- into the transformation of a former consignment shop into a 30-seat restaurant. (That's the dining room, pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo).
The uncomplicated menu was built on ingredients sourced from St. Croix Valley farms and drew from Vrambout’s Belgian heritage, with dishes that included yeasted waffles and mussels with French fries (and terrific pizzas), plus baked goods that reflected Vrambout’s well-rehearsed baking skills (he’d previously operated the Bikery, a Stillwater bakery/bike shop). The bar tapped Belgian beers, of course, and coffee was roasted on the premises. (That's a liege waffle topped with poached pears, walnuts and whipped cream, above). The breakfast-and-lunch operation also featured seasonal (and elaborate) pop-up dinners.
The couple aren't leaving Bayport, or their building. The plan is to continue to offer their occasional pop-up dinners (sign up for email alerts at firstname.lastname@example.org), and they’re looking at opening up the space for cooking classes, wine tastings and pop-up events for other chefs, plus commercial food preparation, a familiar use for Vrambout (pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo) when he operated a liege waffle food truck prior to opening the restaurant.
“It was never our intention to personally operate this restaurant indefinitely,” said Vrambout in a statement. “We created this for the community, and we ultimately want to give it back to the community.”
The couple will continue to operate Velo Du Nord, the bike shop/coffee shop they opened last year in Afton.