For the Fourth year in a row Jim Webster has been nominated for the James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists. He’s among 20 finalists for Best Chef: Midwest. It’s pretty fun to see Bayfield mentioned in the same list of cities as Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Omaha, St. Louis, Kansas City, Madison, Des Moines. What an honor for Mary and Jim and all of the hard working staff that makes this nomination possible. For more information log on to http://jamesbeard.org/. Winners will be announced March 21st.
Bayfield, Wisconsin: At the end of a long winding drive through the Wisconsin woods, Wild Rice appears at the edge of Lake Superior, just outside of Bayfield. The restaurant, named for its owner, Mary Rice, has been wowing guests since it opened in 2001.
The building’s striking design is award-winning architect David Salmela’s take on a modern Scandinavian fishing village, a composite of natural materials and steep pitched roofs. Inside, a dramatic glass floor-to-ceiling “wine cube” holds hundreds of bottles, mostly of Californian terroirs. Each plate comes out of the kitchen constructed like a sculpture that’s almost too lovely to disturb—it’s no surprise to learn that chef Jim Webster earned a BA in studio art.
Some dishes are simple soups and salads: lobster bisque or mixed greens with an herbed sherry vinaigrette. Others are totally over-the-top. The grilled prosciutto-wrapped beef with mascarpone mashed potatoes and Cabernet truffle reduction transcends basic meat ’n’ potatoes. The restaurant’s namesake grain finds its way onto the menu in the popular creamy wild-rice soup with house-smoked chicken and Granny Smith apples. Dinner served weekends May through December, plus additional weekdays during peak season. • 84860 Old San Rd., Bayfield, Wisconsin, 715-779-9881, www.wildricerestaurant.com
-Article as appeared in Minnesota Monthly July 2006
Minneapolis – St. Paul, Minnesota
Editorial Director: Jeff Johnson
Cover Photo: Brian Johnson
A stunning and informative portrait of one of today’s most honored architects.
Salmela Architect provides an in-depth look at one of America’s leading “critical regionalist” architects. Salmela’s buildings resolve a central question of our time: how to balance the various extreme positions that characterize contemporary architecture and culture. Salmela accomplishes this by juxtaposing opposites: modernist and traditional forms, open and
cellular plans, large and small scales, familiar elements used in unfamiliar ways. His projects range from a small stand-alone sauna to commercial spaces visited by thousands of people, and his buildings, mostly located in the upper Midwest, have become nationally and internationally known.
Salmela Architect showcases twenty-six completed buildings and sixteen current projects in lavish color photographs and architectural drawings, enabling readers to get a full sense of the practicality, ethnicity, and playfulness apparent in David Salmela’s work. Architecture critic Thomas Fisher explores Salmela’s propensity to draw from regional roots as he creates
designs particular to individual places and cultures yet with universal appeal. Fisher illuminates this synchronicity with buildings as prominent as the Gooseberry Falls Visitors Center and Wild Rice Restaurant as well as residential projects, including the acclaimed Jackson Meadow community and photographer Jim Brandenburg’s Ravenwood Studio.
There’s more than Zizania Palustris on the menue at Wild Rice, but the eight-month-old Bayfield, Wisconsin, restaurant most definitely makes good use of the stuff. Take a table in one of the two buildings connected by glass walkways and start with executive chef Jim Webster’s creamy wild rice soup with house-smoked duck and Bayfield sugar pears or try the house-smoked Atlantic salmon with
creme fraiche, fingerling potatoes, prosciutto, dill, and chilled Nova Scotia lobster. Designed by Duluth architect David Salmela, Wild Rice has a spare Scandinavian aesthetic. From its big decks, you can enjoy the view of the Apostle Islands and Chequamegon Bay.
A centrally located wine “cellar” is actually a glass cube holding 2,700 bottles. Entrees are as sophisticated and tasty as the appetizers. Grilled Wisconsin lamb loin with red potatoes, wild mushroom ragout, and ratatouille or the Lake Superior sampler – whitefish and lake trout napoleon with apple-sweet pepper confit, potato, and celery root – make this gem worth the trip.
-Article as appeared in MPLS / St. Paul July 2002
You might come for the setting, because the restaurant is at the end of a long, winding drive through wooded forests, and perched on the shore of Lake Superior. You might come because Bayfield is a picturesque delight. Still, the remarkable food and architecture at Wild Rice demand attention all their own.
The restaurant is the creation of Mary H. Rice and her Flamingos Up North group, which also birthed Bayfield’s legendary Maggie’s eatery and the Egg Toss Bakery Cafe, as well as the now-closed Clubhouse on Madeline Island. The group decided it was time to establish a top-flight restaurant on the Wisconsin mainland, building on land Rice already owned.
Ever supportive of local and regional talent, she hired Duluth architect David Salmela to create a building that would make the most of its setting, facilitate excellent food preparation
and wine storage, and be downright gorgeous. Salmela used his classic wood-framed house form and created a kitchen and a dining room in separate buildings, joined by glass hallways. The elegant dining room sets off Rice’s art glass collection and allows a full view into the gleaming stainless-steel kitchen. Plates feature hand painted “Zizania palustris,” the scientific name for wild rice, the glassware is Reidel and the teapots are as well-engineered as a BMW.
Nothing northwoodsy going on here. The open fire-grilled prosciutto-wrapped tenderloin with mascarpone potato puree, mustard carrots, and red wine truffle sauce is not to be missed. The creamy wild rice soup with house-smoked duck and Bayfield sugar pears is heavenly. And, in the how-do-they-get-these-ingredients-out-here category: Moroccan-spiced sauteed quail with foie gras caramelized red onion ravioli, spicy plum jam, and mango.
Wild Rice has its own pastry chef, a rarity even among metro restaurants, and Sally Nordquist turns out perfect creme brulee, among other sheer delights.Kudos to chef Jim Webster, chef du cuisine Phil Sunde, and sous chef Steve Keen. By the end of a meal, diners feel as if they know the staff, since the cooking show through the well-lit windows is irresistible to watch. Randy, who goes by his first name only, greets guests warmly at the front door and informally oversees the hospitable service here.
-Article as appeared in Minnesota Monthly January 2002
Minneapolis – St. Paul, Minnesota
Editorial Director: Pamela Hill Nettleton
Cover Photo: Bob Firth