Food And Drinks

Oak and Reel, Detroit’s New Italian Seafood Restaurant, Opens September 10


On Thursday, September 10th, Detroit’s Milwaukee Junction will add another dining option to its growing ranks with the opening of Oak and Reel. Headed by Chef Jared Gadbaw alongside local alums from Leila, Magnet and the Apparatus Room, this is one of the most anticipated openings of the year.

Under normal circumstances, a chef who ran the kitchen at a Michelin-starred Marea restaurant in New York and moved to Detroit to open a high-end Italian seafood restaurant could be the biggest story of the week. But the bustling Detroit food scene was dwarfed by a pandemic this year. This dangerous consequence has led to a spiral of crisis in the American restaurant industry. Restaurants now opening, especially those dedicated to a particular style of indoor dining, are at greater risk than they were seven months ago. Gadbaw is aware of the stakes. “We’re just trying to get a chance at this point,” he says. “It was a challenge and I know we still have a massive battle for promotion.”

Like most operations that opened during the After Times, Oak and Reel were about four months late. Gadbaw and his team used the time as an opportunity to watch other restaurants and bars try to adjust their models and see what works. As part of the opening model, Oak and Reel chose to offer a set price menu where customers pay a set price rather than rushing through their dinner like in turntable places. “We have weathered a few storms and are still experiencing a current pandemic, but the show has to go on and we have to keep moving forward.” Gadbaw says.

Everyone spoke to Gadbow ahead of the opening to discuss what customers can expect from the restaurant that is making its debut this week. Here are six things you should know about Oak and Reel.

The space: With a capacity of 50 percent, Oak and Reel can accommodate up to 70 people. Gadbow thinks they will further reduce that capacity to 35 or 40 percent – about 50 detached seats.

The chef: Chef Jared Gadbaw is from Michigan and moved to New York 17 years ago when he was in his early twenties to continue his culinary education. He eventually landed a job at Michael White’s Marea, where the restaurant received two Michelin stars. While at the restaurant group, he was able to travel overseas for other restaurant projects but always hoped to return to the Detroit area and open his own space.

The team: The Oak and Reel team is made up of a number of seasoned hospitality professionals, including Mike Conrad, former Head Chef at Magnet. The front line manager is Pete Franklin, a former manager from Leila who also includes Alyse Anderson, a former hotel manager in San Morello.

The food: Gadbaw immersed himself in cooking Italian seafood while in New York and wanted to bring more seafood to Detroit. “I didn’t grow up eating a lot of seafood. It wasn’t represented very well, ”he says. In cooperation with Conrad, Gadbaw was able to get in touch with local suppliers such as Motor City Seafood. The menu includes options like oysters with spruce mignonette, spaghetti nero with crab and bottarga, and poached halibut with olive butter.

As already mentioned, the menu is prix fixe. Customers can book their seats through Tock or by calling 313-270-9600 with a deposit of $ 20 per person and choose between a three-course meal for $ 60 and a four-course meal for $ 75. You then mix and match items and choose a dessert from the menu. Oak and Reel also plans to host special evenings with discounted meals on Mondays and Tuesdays for food and beverage employees.

The drinks: Oak and Reel’s bar primarily focuses on wine with a mix of glass selections and bottles ranging in price from $ 39 to $ 450. Customers can also count on classic and Italian cocktails like Spritzer, Negronis and old-fashioned products.

The precautionary measures: Gadbaw says his goal is to make sure people are comfortable without feeling rushed throughout the season. He notes that some restaurants put deadlines on tables during the pandemic. In addition to standard COVID-19 precautions, Oak and Reel requires a seat reservation and measures customer temperatures upon arrival. The tables are spaced between eight and ten feet apart, more than the six-foot minimum required by the state and recommended by health experts. “We hope we can offer a model that people can really use to come in and relax and have a more sophisticated dining experience here,” he says. For more information on Oak and Reel’s COVID measures, please visit their website.

Oak and Reel is located at 2921 East Grand Blvd. Opening Thursday, September 10th with reservations at Tock and by phone at 313-270-9600; Open on weekdays from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and on weekends from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (closed on Sundays and Wednesdays). Website.

• An Italian seafood restaurant goes to Milwaukee Junction [ED]
• Cover all openings [ED]
• All oak and roller covers [ED]


Dusty Kennedy