Bellecour, the French restaurant by Spoon and Stable chef/owner Gavin Kaysen, is opening on March 15. It's taking over the space that was the longtime home of the Blue Point. But before that? Beginning in 1976 and for a few brief, shining years, 739 Lake St. E. was the address of the elegant, expensive and influential Chouette, Bellecour's French predecessor. Here's a look back, courtesy of the Star Tribune's photo archive.
Aug. 14, 1981: "A feast likely to expand the senses," reads the caption, from a restaurant review. "I would rather eat one exquisite, if necessarily expensive, dinner out per year than a dozen mediocre ones. Enter Chouette. Chouette's menu is strictly a la carte, with hors d'oeuvres fetching as much as $13.50 and entrees as much as $21.50. Add soup, salad and dessert, figure in an apertif, wine, coffee and tip and you may have to cash in a T-bill to pay the tab." Photo by Tom Sweeney. By the way: $21.50 is the equivalent of $71 in 2017 dollars, so Chouette did not come cheap.
Aug. 31, 1979: "Bill and Sandra Goblirsch are not just typical Chouette customers," reads the caption. "Judging from their record attendance and enthusiasm for the place, they are its best customers. 'We don't come here for special occasions, but it is a special occasion when we come here,' says Sandra Goblirsch." Photo by Marlin Levinson.
June 28, 1979: "On Sundays most French chefs hang up their aprons," reads the caption. "As far as the dining public is concerned, it's 'never on Sunday.' Not, however, for Jean Claude Dillier, chef at Chouette in Wayzata. While everyone else is enjoying the blissful sleep unique to Sunday mornings, Dillier is busy creating the most elegant brunch in town, one that starts with a tender poach halibut in watercress and ends some 14 dishes later with a celestial Nougatine cake." Photo by John Croft.
Aug. 31, 1979: "Just meeting John Day makes you wonder uneasily whether your shoes are polished enough or whether maybe you should rush home and iron your shirt again," reads the caption. "Day is a slender, flawlessly dressed Englishman who, as maitre d' at Chouette, lends the French restaurant a further note of Continental chic. Although he is a bit intimidating at first glance, there are laughing eyes above his serious mouth." Photo by Charles Bjorgen.
Aug. 12, 1981: "Chouette, in downtown Wayzata," reads the caption. Photo by Tom Sweeney.