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