Photo by Caitlin Abrams
6 Smith in Wayzata
Who knew Wayzata would become such a hotbed for dining this year? The lakeside town seems to be busting with new eating options, leaving those who whine “there’s no there, there” with no guts to their complaint.
Randy Stanley, formerly of Parasole and widely remembered as the loquacious and venerable suit at the door of Manny’s Steakhouse, has opened 6Smith in the Boatworks right on Wayzata Bay. Wholly recast from its former role as North Coast, it plays a modern urban vibe with gray concrete walls, dark rustic woods, ironwork outlining giant picture windows, and servers in dark jeans and brown leather aprons. The rooftop is a bit brighter and lake-worthy with a central bar and café tables. It all feels cool; it feels like a slice of the North Loop with a bay breeze.
Stanley has brought on some big guns to help round out the city vibe. Chef JP Samuelson was wooed away from the Kaskaid group by Stanley and his son-in-law Angel Luna, who is assisting as sous-chef. Pastry maven Diane Yang consulted on the dessert menu, and Jon Olson was acting mixologist behind the bar menu.
The drink list here is notable and definitely the best in the area. Split into old-school and new-school cocktails, there’s a fresh play with liquor brands and flavors that no one else is doing locally. The “Oh. Dear. God.” with Anejo tequila, Zucca, and housemade fiery orange bitters is a perfect iteration of a sunny afternoon. And the old-school margarita can be shaken with a slice of jalapeño to kick it up a notch, which amped it just the right amount. A North Arm Bootleg with Bulleit bourbon, mint, lime, and bitters is a nice nod to the neighborhood and Woodhill country clubbers coming off the links.
The menu has a steak and lobster focus, and there are separate snacky menus for happy hour and the rooftop. Steaks will obviously be judged seriously, with Stanley’s pedigree, and the rib eye I ate was perfectly cooked and gorgeously beefy. The meat comes from Jerry Likely in Missouri, who used to supply Manny’s for years. It’s the best steak on the lake. As for lobster, the roll we tried was fresh and lemony on a brioche bun, and the lobster guacamole was simple and elegant.
There have been some flashes of fun innovation, as with a kimchi-laced Reuben, beef cheek nachos, tamarind short-rib long bone, and a beautiful hunk of cider-braised pork shank with grilled apples. But honestly, the kitchen has had a bit of a rocky start. Time and time again, plates would come out cold or underseasoned and just disappointing for the price and vibe. Rubbery lobster isn’t going to cut it, especially at $70, and neither are dreadfully gummy gnocchi or dry, inedible roasted beets. It seemed like a lot of small execution issues, which are more easily ironed out than boring food, and I have seen an improvement of dishes since the first few visits.
I’m not going to lie, this is my home turf and I’m rooting for them to figure it out. I will clearly be back for steak and cocktails and a breezy view of the bay while the sun still shines. But I wonder about the growing scene in Wayzata, the impact of more restaurant openings, and which ones eaters will choose in the coming winter, when the cold stretch of lake out the windows cools the foot traffic. I hope by then the team will have raised its game.
294 Grove Ln. E., Wayzata, 952-698-7900, 6smith.com