Dickinson restaurant embraces the best of casual and fine dining
Waterfront restaurants in these parts run the entire gamut — from casual seafood dives to upscale fine-dining establishments. Newly opened Marais embraces the best of all worlds in one scenic spot.
Marais — pronounced mah-ray — is on the winding Benson Bayou in Dickinson on the site formerly occupied by Garcia’s Grill. Although the building that had housed Garcia’s Grill was demolished during construction, a statue from the cantina features prominently in the restaurant’s outdoor patio, a nod to the site’s history. Other reminders include a private dining room adorned with historical photos depicting the Emmites, one of Dickinson’s first families and the original owners of the land.
Upon entering Marais, guests are treated to a refined ambience reminiscent of New Orleans. Glamorous crystal chandeliers hang above the main dining room, gas lamps flicker from wooden beams, vibrant paintings of jazz musicians hang next to oyster plates and a row of French doors lead to a nearby whiskey bar.
Patrons can enjoy a drink before sitting down to dine or just unwind after a busy day. Classically prepared absinthe drip cocktails, as well as modern fusions, are an adventurous option. An extensive wine list also is available, as are wine lockers. A full selection of draft beers and spirits are offered. Ladies Night Out is held every Tuesday and features wine and cocktail specials as well as appetizing cheese boards.
The seafood tower is a feast for the eyes. Layered with creamy avocado, sweet mango, pea shoots and crispy cucumber, the chilled tower is topped with fresh lump blue crab and shrimp before being drizzled with a ginger lime dressing. The Vieux Carré platter arrives sizzling with each chargrilled oyster on the half shell drenched in garlic butter and Parmesan. Thankfully, extra baguettes are provided to mop up the flavorful sauce.
Hand cut and house aged, the 24-ounce USDA Prime bone-in rib-eye is seared to perfection. It’s a delicious but daunting choice for even the hungriest diner. A full menu of traditional sides is available to complement any meal. The braised mustard greens, spicy and satisfying, are the perfect foil to a steak dinner. A soulful take on shrimp and grits is another standout choice. Blackened shrimp float in a Cajun cream sauce with mushrooms and spinach over a bed of velvety smoked Gouda grits.
Post-Hurricane Harvey, lunch at Marais has become decidedly casual. Owners Keith and Holly Lilley refer to it as their “Barbecue, beer and chandeliers” service. The tables are stripped of their white cloths, the speakers switch to country music and the menu from Dickinson Bar-B-Que & Steakhouse, a sister property, is primarily served. Like thousands of homes and businesses, Dickinson Bar-B-Que was flooded during Harvey and is under repair. Work boots caked with Sheetrock are common around midday with many locals taking a quick lunch break from rebuilding.
Customers will enjoy exploring all of Marais’ appealing concepts. A trip outside to the multi-level patio reveals Dickenbach Biergarten, a casual gathering space outfitted with picnic tables, fire pits and outdoor games like giant Jenga and cornhole. Nearby, the Plank Bar offers relaxing views of the bayou beneath the shady canopy of a statuesque live oak. Back inside, rustic Benson’s Bar serves whiskey and mixed drinks to patrons perched on inventive seating, including well-engineered suspended swing seats and saddle stools.
2015 FM 517 E., Dickinson