First Taste: L’Etoile Du Nord


Olivier Vrambout // Photo by Aaron Davidson

Vrambout didn’t always envision a career in food. After moving to the U.S. as a teenager, he took a job doing salad prep and stuck with food as a profession, eventually becoming the pastry chef at the Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon. “It was one of my favorite jobs,” he smiles, “using the spent grain to make breads and pastries.” He’ll usually have some Deschutes on tap, as well as a fine selection of Oregon wines.

But true to his roots, the rest of the beers are of the Belgian persuasion. “One of my favorites is the Blanche de Bruxelles. It’s a nice summery white ale,” he says. “Or the Blanche de Namur. We do a lot of white ales here. The great thing about going back to Belgium is that so many of my favorites still aren’t exported, so I can go there and still get something unique.”

The first thing he’ll do on a trip to Belgium, though, is eat mussels. For a café that prides itself on local ingredients, he still can’t help but bring in mussels once a week for a lunch special. You can take the Belgian out of Belgium, but he’ll take the food with him. “Waffles, cycling, Belgian beer: this is all stuff I grew up with. It just makes sense.”

Killer Pairing #1 – Moules Frites & Chimay Dorée


Photo by Aaron Davidson

If there were a food-and-beer pairing hall of fame, this Belgian classic would be a first-ballot inductee. Moules frites is a Friday-only lunch special at L’Etoile Du Nord, and their rendition is worth marking your calendar for. And the Chimay Dorée is a stunner for the summer—full of those same fruit/spice notes you love from a Trappist Belgian, but in a pristine, light body (4.8% ABV).

Killer Pairing #2 – Farm-Fresh Pizza and Seef


Photo by Aaron Davidson

The pizzas are a must-have at LDN and you’d be wise to select the special of the day. Ours had a parsnip-fennel puree for the sauce, topped with parsnip, zucchini, radishes, and Stickney Hills goat cheese with purple and green basil. The crust is somehow both thick and pillowy, with the perfect speckled crunch on the bottom. The Seef (pronunced “safe”) is a fine compliment—a fruity Belgian pale ale with a sweet, grainy finish.

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John Garland About John Garland

John Garland is the Deputy Editor at the Growler Magazine. Find him on twitter (@johnpgarland) or in every coffee shop on West 7th Street.

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