There’s a massive swimming pool-sized water holding tank underneath the Parc restaurant. This was one of the unforeseen obstacles to expanding, renovating and relaunching the flagship establishment at Campus Martius, real estate investor turned restaurateur Zaid Elia tells Eater. The tank, of course, is refills the park’s landmark fountain just steps from the restaurant and easily viewed through the freshly installed, 270-degree retractable walls that now wrap the exterior of the eatery. While it made laying fresh foundation for a 1,500-square-foot add-on more complicated the challenge is likely worth the price of getting things just right.
Elia and his partner Matthew Shiffman will open the doors at Parc to the public for the first time on Monday afternoon. The pair bought out the previous restaurant, Fountain Bistro, last winter and have been painstakingly working to reconcept and assemble a team that were ready to bring top notch dining to one of Detroit’s most visited locales. The resulting eatery is the product of more than $1.5 million in investment.
The partners behind Parc worked with Knauer Incorporated out of Chicago to develop the design for the 134-seat restaurant. The interior is quite glam with marquee-style lighting and striking black and gold paintings by LA-based artist Knowledge Bennett. “I think we decided we wanted to put something on the wall that evoked a little bit of thought process and was a little different then anywhere else,” Shiffman says of the prints, which sandwich the restaurant’s centrally-located bar.
An assortment of gray tables and white linen upholstered chairs and round booths fill the space giving the restaurant a more refined feel without the stuffiness of white tablecloths. The restaurant also boasts a private dining area that seats up to 12 patrons. The attention to detail is evident in the handmade clay vases that decorate each table. Staff where ties from local accessories maker Cyberoptix featuring a print of Campus Martius.
Space is definitely a challenge in the kitchens at Parc. The area in which staff have to work is close quarters with some items like the glorious chocolate curls on pastry chef Tori Parnell’s hazelnut brownie sundae being tempered and shaped at a prep kitchen offsite. Still, chef Jordan Hoffman’s back-of-house team already appears to have found a strong rhythm.
Parc’s promising menu is designed to feel familiar in a Michigan setting, explains Hoffman, with spices and ingredients incorporated that represent the different influential cultures in metro Detroit. Diners can look forward to quite a few expertly prepared seafood dishes including two variations of oysters and a briny, tangy yellowtail crudo. Items like the tender Colorado lamb chops and rigatoni bolognese are offered in generous portions.
While the bar does offer an assortment of cocktails it’s certainly a wine-forward bar program driven by sommelier Dennis Payne, a Michigan native who previously worked in Arizona. Payne has assembled a formidable list of some 400 wines that span the globe with a particular focus on sub-regions of California, Washington, and Oregon. Approximately 32 vintages are offered by the glass — and they are very tall glasses.
Photographers Michelle and Chris Gerard took a tour of the restaurant ahead of the anticipated debut. Take a peek in the gallery below.
• All Eater Inside Coverage [ED]
• All Parc Coverage [ED]