By Peter Lilienthal
1179 E. Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata, 952-288-2866, wayzataeatery.com
Tucked in a corner of a Lunds-centric strip mall in Wayzata, the former Louie’s Habit has been converted into a compact, comfortable, and copacetic neighborhood dining spot. Aside from a handsome Persian carpet, the dcor is minimalist: latticed beams sporting halogen spotlights crisscross overhead, posters regaling the history of Lake Minnetonka adorn the walls, and marble tops crown solid tables. Two rows of dark wood booths flank the formations of tables that fill the main dining room. And on the other side of a divider, there’s a small wine bar abutting the open-to-view kitchen. Guests electing to sit in this section are likely to have chef Matt Quist and his crew ply them with complimentary treats. As for the clientele, it’s very much a mix of Lake suburbanites outfitted in Ralph Lauren and Barbour.
Although Chef Quist may not yet be a local luminary, his cooking is every bit as good as what can be found at some “chef-driven” places in town. A lot of them would do well to observe the way Quist circles the small room soliciting feedback. As for the menu, it’s an eclectic and interesting multinational compilation that ranges from a char-grilled New York strip with excellent frites and homemade barnaise to wild mushroom lasagna and a crab Oscar naan pizza. When asked how we enjoyed our food, our response was enthusiastic appreciation for the bold and appealing flavors and kudos for the nightly specials. Minor criticisms included a dearth of the white wine, shallot, butter, and tomato concasse broth with the otherwise perfect mussels, a pervasive greasiness detracting from potato- and pea-filled samosas, and slightly overcooked chicken saltimboca rolled with Serrano ham and rosemary. Quibbles notwithstanding, this is a place with considerable charm and food that’s well above what’s served in the populist eateries of downtown Wayzata. Service is variable-one evening we had a newcomer and the other a pro radiating enthusiasm.
A New Force in the Making?
Don’t let Wayzata Eatery’s modest looking ambitions fool you. This venture represents the first independent restaurant operation for Taher, Inc.-a Minnetonka-based food company that provides school lunch management, campus and senior residence dining, and vending services. It serves more than 34 million meals per year. How encouraging to see this dedication to quality from a corporate niche known for steam table experiences. Next on Taher’s drawing board: Alaskan Eatery, a seafood-focused restaurant in the former Shelly’s Woodroast on I-394, targeted for a fall opening.
GETTING THERE, GETTING IN: There is abundant parking in the strip mall lot. Reservations are recommended.
HOURS: M-F 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sa-Su 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
NOISE LEVEL: Moderate.
KIDS: An adult ambience and no special menu, but the kitchen is happy to prepare special meals.
CARDS: AmEx, Discover, MC, Visa.
ENTRE PRICES: $11-$30.
EXTRAS: Brunch on weekends.