CoV, Wayzata, MN
This place has been open for a few months as I write this, and though I wanted to check it out at face value, being a new spot, I'd also recently heard that a favorite bartender (see Sidebar below) from BLVD Kitchen is now employed at this spot. I also mistakenly presumed the people that own BLVD own CoV, but this seems to be wrong. CoV is part of the same brain that brought us all the Champps and Redstone locations. I will say, just walking up to the place, it's nothing like Champps (thank god!) and has a new feel that is fresher than Redstone. This is likely a very conscious decision as Wayzata is known to be on the ritzier side of local areas... whatever, I just like going to new places.
The space is appropriately different than the former tenant, Sunsets. It is now a 210 seat restaurant with raw bar, drinking bar, and many many seats. It has a light and airy look (think New England shoreline), but to me also felt a bit crowded. I don't know if it's the table layout or the fact that they must have had 36 employees working on a Sunday around lunchtime. Now, the only part of the restaurant business I know is that of a patron, having never been a bartender, bar back, waiter, server, chef or cook... but quick math tells us they have 1 employee for every 5-8 guests. To me that means they have one person for every 1-2 tables. Is that efficient? No matter, to me it made the place feel very very busy with the hustle and bustle of all these servers, hostesses, and managers... to the point of detracting from the serene design and lake views.
I sat myself at the bar, had a Arnie Palmer and ordered, with advice of the bartender, the edamame and black bean cakes (think of a vegetarian crab cake). The cakes came out in speedy fashion and were very fresh, tasty and light. Not only that, but they might have been the cheapest dish on the menu at only $12. Of course, you can't think you'll find cheap food next to the lake in Wayzata, but they seem to have tacked $2-4 on each menu item, just for the view I suppose.
Sidebar (pun intended): You may be asking, "Who has favorite bartenders?" Well, he's really the only bartender in all of the Twin Cities that seems to recognize people by sight, including me, so by default he's my favorite bartender. He also has a great way with people, an interesting story when you get to talk to him, and an energy that fits social settings perfectly and makes people want to go back... all great qualities to have when trying to make your bar popular.