Johnny Depp once said, "Money doesn't buy you happiness. But it buys you a big enough yacht to sail right up to it."
Whether you hail from, reside in, or truly disdain the legendary 'burb, Wayzata is undeniably choice. Yes, we have our 10,000 lakes, but why does the light seem more golden when it glints off of Lake Minnetonka? Why do modern-day castles cast their shadows upon the shore? Why is every denizen equipped with an accessory arsenal of an Aston Martin, a French bulldog, and a Bulgari?
Because that's just the way it is. And, whether or not this is you, you too can be king for a day by dining at one or more of Lake Street's competent eateries, focused on — what else? — seafood. We might be landlocked, but remember that in Wayzata, Minnesota's Riviera, you can pull right up next to whatever you want. Now grab that counterfeit Gucci and act like you own the real deal.
Not just any boathouse, but a Caesar's palace of important white columns, vintage Banana Republic ceiling fans, and twinkling water light, Cov might be the prettiest restaurant in Minnesota. Toss in ample patio space with lilac bushes trimmed into prim topiaries and the occasional passing freight train, and the place is as evocative as a dream.
It's madness to choose anything but seafood in this setting, and Cov does it with straightforward aplomb. A pot of mussels in a classic white-wine butter broth is textbook perfect with a pot liquor that will inspire a tilt of the bowl to drink. But don't be gauche! Instead just sop it up with the perfectly toasted crostini provided for just this maneuver. An equally classic shrimp cocktail is perhaps not the best one ever (not to mention steep at $16 for a serving of four), but made properly enough with springy snap and a cocktail sauce sporting a spicy grating of fresh horseradish on top — a thoughtful touch.
Wood-grilled salmon lacked wood flavor, but was otherwise served at a nice medium-rare internal temp, draped over curried couscous and cucumber raita. Not memorable necessarily, not the sort of pyrotechnics expected from big-name chefs, but instead the sort of thing you want when plopping the New Yorker down on the Eames ottoman, peering over your readers, and declaring: "Honey, let's go out for dinner tonight." When yours is the sort of bank account that thinks as much about $29 entrees as the common person thinks of tossing the extra penny in the take one/leave one jar, you can do this every night.
So make it a piece of fish, hold the carbs, add an extra helping of veg, and make it without too many flourishes, please. It's like home, with champagne, more house-made Key Lime pie, and one hell of a nicer view.
700 E. Lake St., Wayzata
Sail right up to happiness at the marina at 6 Smith — or choose the more plebeian parking lot. Either way, the space opens into the sort of bring-the-outdoors-in light that calls to mind modern-art museums and skylights. You could easily just sit and ohhh over little mahogany speedboats and big yachts with bouncy girls in bathing suits dismounting them, but the eats are pretty good, too.
The New American menu offers all the hits: the burgers, the flatbreads, the steaks, but if you're just off the water (or wishing you were on it), we'd start with a mess of oysters, which at happy hour go for $2 apiece. They come on a big mound of crushed ice, from the East and West Coasts, alongside cocktail sauce and lemon and mignonette. It's a bang-up way to take down a bunch of $4 beers. (See? Not everything comes at skyscraper prices in Wayzata.)
A pan-seared sea bass was golden as toast at the edges and translucent and lush within, planked over a sprightly melange of asparagus, arugula, and carrot, with sweet-tart miso/yuzu for flavor. This is a dish to have you contemplating the itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny bikini, with zero sacrifice at all. If landlubbing is simply a must, choose the house-cured Tellicherry pepper bacon, served with a little sidecar of bourbon, just because. We also liked the full menu of vegetables (nothing better for summer-ready bods, remember) like char-grilled asparagus served with preserved lemon vinaigrette and a fried egg, or oven-roasted, practically candied, frizzled-edged Brussels sprouts in a tart Asian vinaigrette with a confetti of red Fresno peppers.
And in keeping with the theme of watching figures, whether your own or someone else's, keep an eye peeled for the little fork logo indicating "light" items.
294 East Grove Lane, Wayzata
There are strip-mall wonders, and then there is Sushi Fix, the pinnacle of them all. The men's room is wallpapered with Japanese ingenues, and for the ladies? Sumo wrestlers. Owner/sushi warrior Billy Tserenbat has become something of a beloved local dandy, putting out not just some of the best sushi around, but also some of the best laughs, feel-good moments, and shots. Lots and lots of shots.
His background is a bit of a mystery — born in Mongolia to wealthy parents with a birthright to become a geologist, and somehow, by way of a path I don't quite understand, he wound up in Minnetonka serving sushi to moneyed gentry. And it's a good thing, too, because he stocks some of the highest price-tagged booty in town — certified Wagyu beef, more Japanese whiskey than anyone in the area, and the sort of omakase that might include tempura-battered morels, yellowtail collar, foie gras, and caviar, or ski shots.
Oh, you don't know about the ski shots? What other way to ensure your friends get exactly as soused as you do, but to affix a half-dozen shot glasses to a ski, and bottoms up! Everyone downs in unison, and no cheating, or your if-you-have-to-ask-you-can't-afford-it whiskey winds up all over your cashmere sweater.
In a bit of an ironic turn, Tserenbat is utterly devoted to Edo Mae sushi, which we loosely interpret as "sushi for the people." Think of it as an ancient street food, fast food for the working folks of Tokyo who were on the go in an era with no refrigeration. So what does that mean for today? It means that some of those preservation techniques carried over, along with their attendant flavor profiles, which were kind of happy-accident byproducts: highly seasoned rice, lots of fine wasabi and ginger, piquant and flavorful ponzu and shoyu for their antibacterial (and now flavorful) properties, and the natural packaging of banana leaf — from when compostable disposables certainly weren't a thing.
I assure you, chef Tserenbat will more happily, accurately, entertainingly, and deliciously explain all of this to you than I can, if you go to Sushi Fix. It's the only way you'll get your ski shots.
862 Lake St. E., Wayzata
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