Chef David Gilbert just had the soft opening for his new Grosse Pointe restaurant, Marais, and according to his interview with Sylvia Rector, everything was secret and will hopefully remain that way. Reading the interview, it's a little surprising that Gilbert even spoke to the press. With no website (and none planned), no online menu, no preview of the interior, the facade hidden until the last minute, and no pictures anywhere, it's no shock that their soft opening had "'very limited seating'" in the chef's own words.
The restaurant features local ingredients and French cooking techniques, and Gilbert's pedigree would suggest he knows what he's doing. He started in Michelin-starred restaurants in France and Spain, and was the executive chef at the Townsend Hotel's Rugby Grille and most recently Forest Grill, both in Birmingham. Marais is Gilbert's personal project, and he had a very clear idea of the kind of experience he wanted to create.
Marais was created with timeless opulence in mind. The interior is supposed to be unobtrusively beautiful, in a can't-put-my-finger-on-it way. The menu is where the opulence comes in; it features trios of lamb and veal, and an eight (8!) course tasting menu. They also feature lots of champagne-his wife, Monica Gilbert, is the sommelier and general manager-in the form of not only mixed drinks but also a champagne cart, encouraging diners to select a glass of bubbly before their meal.
Details like that show the potential for Marais to be actually kind of fun. Who wouldn't want to drink champagne on an empty stomach and then dive into an extravagant eight-course meal while slightly tipsy? The restaurant certainly isn't inexpensive (that tasting menu will cost $115 per person, and bottles on the wine list can cost as much as $2,000) but if you can afford it, why not?
As for the top secret nature of the place, in this digital age of restaurant owners instagramming photos of every step of the renovation, pre-opening pop-ups and menu postings, and obsessive press coverage of all of this (guilty), maybe Gilbert is smart to leave a little something to the imagination. Or maybe not-but expect to read about it either way.
Marais will be open from Monday-Saturday, and will be accepting reservations from 5:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
· David Gilbert's Marais Opens in Grosse Pointe [Freep]
· The Craigslist Posting for Marais? Was Fake [Eat It Detroit]
Photo of the exterior pre-construction via Robert Wood & Associates]