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Great French Cafe - St. Paul, MN

Hello all,

here is a gem of a find. Kallyste French Cafe and Chocolates. It's at 5 Signal Hills Center which is a dreary little stripmall off Robert Street in West St. Paul. It's tiny and next to a GNC and other mall regulars.

This place has incredible sandwiches. I had a wonderful version with warm goat cheese, shrimp sauteed in butter and garlic, with parsley, raspberry basalmic and orange slices all on a fresh baguette. In addition to a wide variety of sandwiches he also has crepes, fondues, salads and entrees. I haven't had anything but sandwiches so can't comment on the others, but they at least sounds great. Salmon in paper with beurre blanc, swordfish etc.

He also has a huge selection of fudge and Belgian chocolates. Very interesting place.

I don't see how he can stay in business out in Signal Hills. So make the trek and enjoy some really tasty food in a cultural deadland.

Post your experiences.

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  1. Oh thank you, that sounds wonderful - way to take a risk, trying a French Cafe on that stretch of Robert!

    1. misterpatrick, thanks so much for the recommendation -- I would never have found this place without it. I had a great sandwich there last Saturday: a baguette with turkey (hand-sliced off a roasted breast, not that nasty pressed stuff), mushrooms, Swiss cheese, leeks, and PLUMS, which sounds a little odd but tasted fabulous. My dining companion had the same sandwich you did and liked it very much. Bruno, the owner, is a tres charming guy from Corsica; he said he's been open about 19 months now.

      It's a little hard to imagine eating dinner there, but I bet it's tasty.

      1. Wow! I frequent that area and I've never noticed the Cafe! (And hey! It's not a totally culturally dead land. Ali Baba's, Pineda, El Taquito, er, k, maybe that's it.) Can't wait to try it and get to recommend it to others.

        5 Replies
        1. re: s.again

          Please do, and report back! I'll warn you that the menu is a little bit crazy-looking -- I'm not sure what the organizing principle is supposed to be -- but if you persevere you'll end up with something very tasty.

          1. re: mcgeary

            I will happily do that. My sister is a serious Francophile and has spent a great deal of time in that country. My dad and I are going to try to drag her snobby *ss over there and get her opinion too.

          2. re: s.again

            Don't forget Beirut Restaurant, just a bit further south on Robert. Excellent Lebanese, with what might be my favorite baba ghannou in town. The owner tells me it's all in the way he roasts the eggplant. And on Wabasha, not too far away (just as you curve around the bluffs, near the ubiquitous Boca Chica) is a bakery that just opened a couple of months ago. Look for the yellow awnings saying BC [2} signs (meaning "Bread, Coffee, Cake") and for outstanding and unusual loaves--I brought a loaf of the Apple Chipotle into work with me and had to almost beat my co-workers away once they'd tasted it.

            1. re: clepro

              The only thing better than Beirut's baba ganouj (which is great) is the garlic sauce. That stuff could bring me back from the grave! Don't miss it.

              Thanks for the info on the BC [2] bakery - I'll look for it when I'm in the area!


              1. re: AnneInMpls

                *heh* True. I've bought take-out containers of the garlic sauce and just sopped it up with pitas. Fabulous!

                BC [2] has great sweet stuff too, including a good tres leches cake.

          3. Actually, the menu looks a lot like menus you'll see at small cafe's in France. Especially the little abbreviations. Be sure and chat with Bruno as he's a great guy. He makes the bread himself and can also bake quite a tale.

            1. Try the lobster sandwich with the leeks, carrots and onion and the apple hard core cider sauce with ginger and sour cream.. Delicious... And somebodyelse was enjoying the beef bordelaise and the gratin dauphinois...

              2 Replies
              1. re: andrea_c

                I was there last month and forgot to post about it. I also had the lobster and leak sandwich, and thought it was just lovely. It’s one of those places you just can’t believe is in that kind of strip mall. Can’t wait to go back and try some other items from the menu. Had a chance to chat with the owner for a while, a very nice man who really seems to love what he does. Among other things, he told me he all the baked goods, including the breads, are made fresh there each morning.

                This place is really worth checking out if you’re in the neighborhood, and it just might be worth the drive if you’re not.

                Uncle Ira

                1. re: Uncle Ira

                  You all have no idea how happy I am to see this here! I live near Kallyste's, and every sandwich I've had there has been outstanding. My favorite is probably the lobster; I did that swooning thing my sister always hated to see me do the first time I tried one. I've been worried that he wouldn't get enough business stuck there in the middle of Sad Signal Hills as he is, so am pleased to see that others have sniffed him out. Charming man, great sandwiches. Reasonable prices. GO!

              2. Finally tried Kallyste last Friday. My husband described the experience well - he said going there was like passing through a magical portal. Never did we expect such charm, effort, or creativity from a mostly-vacant strip mall.

                We chatted for a while with the gentleman I assume was Bruno before ordering. Of the sandwiches, he recommended the goat cheese/shrimp/orange/etc. or the scallop (don't remember what else was in that one). I chose the shrimp sadnwich and it was a real treat. I have been thinking about it all weekend. It's so refreshing to have such original (or at least around here, unusual) flavor combinations! My husband chose the lobster sandwich and was also very pleased. My only criticism would involve the bread - on both sadwiches, the bread's flavor was good, but it was missing the slightly crisp crust I'd like to have.

                We were surprised by how much effort went into each sandwich - this man clearly cares a lot about what he is doing. This is true sandwich art!

                We also ordered a broccoli cheese soup for the little one - she wasn't too into it, but husband and I really enjoyed it - the cheese had a strong bite to it, almost bitter. Very nice.

                P.S. I regret my earlier posting that implied that Robert St. was a chow wasteland - it's so not true. Since then I've enjoyed very good meals at Kallyste and Pineda, and I'm sure there's a lot more out there that my eyes were blind to before!

                1 Reply
                1. We were in at the end of April, and the server informed us that they're looking at a place in Woodbury when the current lease expires (September maybe?).

                  1. Thanks goes out to you misterpatrick!! You have turned me on to a GEM in W.St.Paul, Mn!
                    Kallyste is amazing. Everything everyone has said about this place is true. My sister and I went here for lunch yesterday and i had a fabulous sandwich that had strawberries on it. Sounds weird but it was great! My sister had the sandwich with shrimp in it and my niece had one with Italian salami. We all loved them. Did I mention the chocolate? I hope he has some outstanding buisness. I would hate to see this place leave.

                    1. We had very good fondue and a really really nice ham and cheese crepe. Really light and thin crepes....some of the best I've had. Prices were very reasonable. It sounds like the ambience is due for an upgrade as bruno is moving next month to Woodbury and he will be working on getting a wine and beer license. Bruno seems like a nice guy, I hope he makes it.

                      1. Super cool, heading over there for lunch today. Thanks for the bump to the top so I could find it!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: TruthBrew

                          Just back, had a great little lunch and grabbed some fudge to go.

                          He mentioned that Kallyste will be moving from this location to Woodbury (Valley Creek and Woodbury Dr) sometime around late Sept. They will have a bigger location, more dinner-time friendly, and a wine/beer license.

                          1. re: TruthBrew

                            Danny and I went to Kallyste on Saturday. Oh my, this place is lovely! As other posters have said, Bruno is gracious and super nice. We had the cheese fondue and I loved it. I found the fondue interesting because it was so complex. It seemed like after every bite, I discovered a new flavor in the fondue. For example, first I noticed the cheese blend, then the wine, the garlic the parsley. I loved how it seemed to challenge me in that I wasn't quite sure what other flavors I would discover next. yummy.

                            I had the cheese sandwich. This was great too! It wasn't your ordinary cheese sandwich! It was filled with several kinds of cheese, garlic and I think it had some balsamic vinegar too.

                            Danny had the May sandwich of the month. I only tried a bite, but it was tasty too. It was a croissant with chicken, cheese, chocolate sauce and a bunch of other good stuff..

                            My only have two bad things to say about this place, 1) it's not in my neighborhood and 2) why didn't I go there sooner?????

                        2. yes, thank you so much for the heads up, misterpatrick! I would have never found Kallyste on my own. I took a friend for lunch and we had the cold shrimp sandwich with avocado and the Deauville - the warm lobster and leek sandwich. The lobster sandwich was our favorite. Bruno was lovely and gracious just as the other posts said. I would like to return and try the crepes and the soup.

                          1. Bumping this thread to remind everyone to rush down to Kallyste before it moves. Bruno the owner says he'll close at the end of September, then reopen a few weeks later in Woodbury. Bruno says he might take some time off, so perhaps the re-opening will be at the end of October? In any case, this place is well worth a visit, now or later.

                            What a find this place is! I finally got there last weekend, and had the best sandwich I've ever eaten - turkey, cheese, leeks, and plums. Mr. Tastebud's sandwich was even better: Chicken, cheese, garlic, and pears. (Sandwich list here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/424714 .)

                            I want to go back for dinner - the menu has several meat dishes, three fish dishes, and two vegetarian dishes, plus crepes, fondue, raclette, and salads. And soup - the French Onion soup is really good (rich and oniony and herby).

                            And if you think that West St. Paul or Woodbury is too long a drive, think again! We delayed going to Kallyste because of the drive, but now we know that we'll be making the journey often - it's quite close, really, for such great food!


                            3 Replies
                            1. re: AnneInMpls

                              I posted this in another thread too, but from everything I have heard, Bruno is not planning on re-opening, but instead relocating farther up north.

                              1. re: jimcheng

                                I take it that Kallyste did close shop in West St Paul at the end of September?

                                1. re: ribena

                                  Correct. I believe that either during the time he was taking off, or very shortly before he closed, his business partner passed away. He then decided that he just didn't have the passion to find another partner and do all of the things necessary to open up his new shop by himself.