I have to admit, as a child of the eastern suburbs, I never ventured west of Minneapolis much, if at all, growing up. And now, as a member of the millennial generation, I spend a lot of time exploring the craft breweries of Northeast and the themed restaurants of downtown.
Wayzata always seemed to me to be a quaint town made up of a few lakeside restaurants that housed the summer Lake Minnetonka boaters.
Not really a prime destination for the dead of winter; a feeling all too familiar to 6Smith owner Randy Stanley.
For years Stanley had aspirations to own his own restaurant. While he had connections with the landlord of the lot 6Smith now sits on for 25 years, he didn’t know what could survive in the space.
“I’ve always been an urban person, so I didn’t really get it. But since then, I’ve moved out [to the western suburbs],” he said. “I started recognizing the lack of cool restaurants from downtown to Maple Grove and I thought, ‘Something cool could really work here.'”
But, as we all know, cool is a relative term.
So, Stanley set out to find what would be “cool” enough to satiate the local’s thirst for unique dining without being too niche and also draw in the city dwellers.
Thus, 6Smith was born – an urban suburban haven.
“What you see in the suburbs is a lot of Pottery Barn…it’s very homogenized. We went in another direction,” Stanley said. “We’re something really believable, original, fresh.”
Barely a year old, 6Smith is already redefining what it means to dine out in Wayzata.
The restaurant is one of four that sits on the lake. It stays true to its Wayzata roots by having floor-to-ceiling windows on the walls facing the lake, an outdoor patio in the summer and 22 spots to park your boat.
Where it differs is in its design.
Stanley stripped down the restaurant, in part to strip away the two restaurants that sat in the same spot prior to 6Smith, a did little to change the warehouse layout.
The dining room is embellished with handmade fixtures, such as beautiful, floor-to-ceiling, wire wine rack that acts as a doorway to the kitchen and hanging light fixtures. The support beams are original to the building and still have writings from workers past and the floor is a grey concrete. The tavern has a deep wooden floor and dark leather booths. They even have a rooftop, one of the only spots west of the city that does.
This deviation from a stereotypical nautically themed lakeside spot continues into their food.
There is only one walleye dish on the menu. A rather bold choice for sitting on Lake Minnetonka.
“We’re softening,” Stanley smiled. “[Chef John Mullen] is working on a walleye dish for dinner.”
Additionally, the food varies regionally and culturally. While there is a plethora of seafood, it’s presented in unique ways.
Like their miso marinated sea bass. Or their lobster terrine.
Large chunks of sweet lobster sit atop a bed of creamy guacamole covered in crispy carrots, pickled ginger and a light citrus juice. All to be eaten with a crispy, salty wonton chip.
And it’s not just Asian. Mullen uses influences from all over the world. From nachos, made with beef cheek, to gnocchi to chimichurri skirt steak.
“Our hook is, it’s an artisan, craftsman type of cooking,” Stanley said. “Everything is really complex. It looks simple on the plate, but it’s either brined, or braised, or confit, or smoked, or twice-cooked. There’s levels and layers of complexity.”
Enter Fat Pants Friday.
“John kind of came from a pretty staid background in the hotel business, so while he could be creative he couldn’t push the envelope a lot,” Stanley said. “It gets the creative juices flowing.”
Last Friday’s special was a sandwich made up of a few pieces of chicarron, a stuffed chile relleno wrapped in a tortilla, two layers of carnitas, two layers of nachos, a fried egg, guacamole, chipotle sauce topped with a half of a hard-boiled egg.
Oh, and a grilled asparagus spear.
In case that description didn’t hint to it, every Fat Pants Friday special is guaranteed to have more than 3,000 calories.
“It’s our way of saying we’re going to eat something outrageously fun,” press representative Jaqueline Hanson said.
If you’re fun consists more of liquid calories, you’re in luck. In addition to the patio, rooftop, dining room and tavern – they have a bar.
Right now, for the cold winter months, they are selling a delicious mulled wine.
But if you’re more of a cocktail person, they have plenty of those too. Their Old Fashioned is a particular favorite and extra special as they make their own bitters in house.
Stanley says all these choices, house made infusions and the sophisticated-yet-caloric Fat Pants Friday, all span from this urban suburban idea. So, what does that even mean?
“Everything is kind of real downtown. I like that connectedness and authenticity, and I thought that would be kind of cool to bring that out to the suburbs,” Stanley said. “The suburbs are a sort of nexus between art and commerce. It’s a crossroads where things meet.”
And if it means introducing that authenticness with a new group eager to participate, I guess I’m okay with becoming an urban suburban.
6Smith is located on 294 Grove Lane E in Wayzata. The dining room is open Monday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The main bair is open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call 952-698-7900 or visit 6Smith online.