A culinary star trades a 15-year New York City career to open a restaurant in the region of his childhood. Chef Jared Gadbaw, raised in Garden City, opens Oak & Reel this coming weekend in the Milwaukee Junction neighborhood east of New Center.
He describes it as "a contemporary Italian restaurant with a primary focus on seafood, ... combining local ingredients with seafood not only from our Great Lakes but also from waters throughout the world." Pasta is handmade at the East Grand Boulevard newcomer.
Gadbaw, 41, graduated from Michigan State and the French Culinary Institute, a prestigious program in Lower Manhattan that's now the International Culimary Center. He worked in Hong Kong, Istanbul and then back in Manhattan. He became the first chef de cuisine at Marea, a Central Park South restaurant that opened in 2009. It earned a Michelin Guide star that year then two stars the next.
"Feels good to be back in the kitchen," the chef, who lives in Farmington Hills, posts on Oak & Reel's Facebook page. (The restaurant's name alludes to its wood-burning oven and to fishing.)
Gadbaw -- who last November posted a interior construction photo captioned "2020 is gonna be a great year!" -- hoped to open this past spring. Then the world tilted.
The pandemic that pushed back his launch also limits seating below the full capacity of 130-140 diners on the ground floor, a range Freep food writer Mark Kurlyandchik reported last fall. Two private dining areas in the basement have space for a total of 36 guests, the paper added.
Further along, Gadbaw plans to open a jazz lounge with a speakeasy vibe in the basement that will seat an additional 30.
For now, he scrapped an à la carte menu because limited seating obviously reduces revenue projections.
"Due to our current situation," the website advises, "Oak & Reel has decided that the best way to ensure a safe and enjoyable dining experience for our guests and staff is to pivot to a prix fixe-only menu at this time." A three-course meal is $60 and four courses are $75.
The one-page menu has oysters, Pacific snapper, tuna, octopus, prawns, grilled swordfish, scallops, roasted bass, poached halibut and risotto with crab and bass. It's no steakhouse, though carnivores will find dry-aged ribeye steak as the last of six entrees -- a line below the lone vegetarian main dish (cauliflower-chickpea panisse with peppers, smoked almonds and raisins).
The two-page wine list has 16 choices by the glass ($11-$24) and dozens of bottles from $39-$450.
Hungry yet? You likely will be after seeing five selections below.
Book a table
Reservations: Available starting Friday, Sept. 11 -- when seven of 12 time slots are full. Saturday is fully booked.
Address: 2921 E. Grand Blvd., near Beaubien Street (map)
Parking: Free on site, east of the building.
Photos from restaurant
grilled lettuce, cherries and salmorigliio (a southern Italian condiment made of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and herbs).