Authentic French Fare Highlights Menu Change at JW Marriott Grand Rapids
The hotel's six.one.six restaurant reconcepts with a new chef and cuisine.
Classic French dishes are often paid lip service on restaurant menus, usually a nod to the chef’s formal culinary training rather than a true love for the timeless flavors and deceptive simplicity of those dishes.
It’s even rarer when a hotel restaurant dives deep into traditional French cuisine, given the wide range of guests and their equally varied tastes. But as customers continue to seek honest and authentic experiences when dining, the idea of an old-school French bistro menu executed correctly can become an attraction for locals and in-house guests in 2018, especially in a city like Grand Rapids, Michigan.
That’s where JW Marriott Grand Rapids recently transformed its flagship, farm-to-table six.one.six restaurant from a high-quality but “unfocused” (as one Yelp reviewer put it) menu that offered everything from burgers to sushi, to a menu dominated by bedrock French staples, like coq au vin, filet mignon au poivre, escargot, salad Lyonnaise, and more.
Even though the restaurant’s concept has changed, the name hasn’t. Since six.one.six (the Grand Rapids area code) opened in 2007, it’s built a loyal local following and is familiar to repeat guests at the hotel, especially those that frequent the venue’s breakfast and brunch dayparts, as six.one.six doubles as the property’s three-meal space.
But it was post-breakfast where the hotel decided a complete concept change was necessary to engage more sophisticated, well-traveled palates that have evolved since 2007, which ironically, circles back to foundational French classics that have been around for decades or longer, waiting to be discovered by a demographic that may not have had exposure to those dishes in the past.
The hotel describes it as transforming from a global culinary destination to offering curated French cuisine, and proclaims, "Never has the phrase "Bon Appétit" been more apropos." on its website.
“Our vision is to create a dining experience that is underrepresented in West Michigan,” says Brian Behler, general manager, JW Marriott Grand Rapids. “With newly appointed Chef Alessandro Guerrazzi, classically trained in French cuisine and at the helm of the restaurant’s refresh, our team will deliver the highest level of French taste profiles to discerning diners interested in culturally distinct experiences.”
A press release announcing the new six.one.six depicts Guerrazzi’s menu as melding traditional French flavors and contemporary, local favorites for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast staples include fresh-baked pastries, charcuterie, and cheese boards. Signature lunch and dinner dishes include: tarte flambé, onion soup gratinée, and pear clafoutis.
An expansive wine list boasts the largest selection of French wine in Grand Rapids, and feature labels such as: 2015 Domain Jean Louis Chave L'Hermitage Rouge and Blanc; 2011 Chateau Pichon Comtesse de Lalande Grand Cru; 2013 Henri Prudhon; Les Chambres; Chassagne Montrachet; 2015 Domaine Tessier; Les Genevrieres; and Meursault Premier Cru.
Quintessential French-inspired touches include baguettes baked fresh daily, house-made pasta, and rotisserie chicken on display in an open kitchen. Classic and contemporary melodies echo throughout the restaurant, complementing furnishings and tableware that inspire a French ambiance and aesthetic. A complete interior refresh is slated to be concluded before the end of 2020.
“As one of the first farm-to-table restaurants in Grand Rapids, six.one.six has been a market leader in culinary trends since opening in 2007,” says Todd Webb, executive chef, JW Marriott Grand Rapids. “We’re excited for guests to experience the next phase of the restaurant’s evolution as an approachable French bistro.”
Dishes previously available at six.one.six such as the signature flatbreads, tuna roll, and six.one.six burger, have been rotated to menus at Mixology Lounge and the jdek—the hotel’s waterfront patio and bar—and will be served at six.one.six upon request. The weekend brunch menu will remain unchanged.