With a population of around 20,000 people, the residents of Dickinson, Texas are in the loop about anything and everything going on in their little city. One of the most recent local interests is a new Cajun-fusion restaurant, Marais, pronounced mah-
There is a lot of history surrounding the location of Marais. Many locals remember Garcia’s Grill, which was a Tex-Mex restaurant in the old
Two years later, Marais opened its doors. Keith and Holly Lilley have always loved the French Quarter vibe and old-school New Orleans. A stay at the Roosevelt Hotel on Mrs. Lilley’s 50th birthday inspired the look and feel of Marais. The Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt inspired the beautiful bar in the main dining area. The bar is lined with statuary marble surrounded with custom-made tufted barstools. Elaborate chandeliers hang overhead and giant windows and old French architecture are spotted throughout the dining area. Authentic working gas lanterns made by Bevolo on Conti Street in New Orleans are also hung throughout.
In addition to the main dining area, there are several other areas in which to play. Yes, play. The Lilleys wanted Marais to be a fun, casual, playful place to relax and unwind. Benson’s Bar, named after one of the founder’s of Dickinson, is decorated with saddle stools, mid-century German chairs, and amazing bar swings made by a local Dickinson firefighter. These bar swings are on cables and trolleys so they can be moved from one side or the other if a traditional barstool is desired. Since they are hung on one-ton cables, all shapes and sizes are easily accommodated. Wine barrel tables made by a local lady also add a rustic touch to this unique room.
Outside there is an area called the Dickenbach Biergarten, inspired by Luckenbach, Texas. Colorful picnic tables shipped all the way from Germany’s Oktoberfest are lined up and games like giant Jenga and cornhole can be played. The Lilleys plan to also use this area for shrimp and crawfish boils. Fire pits and a large shade tarp will also be added.
A more peaceful spot to hang out is on the shaded patio under the 120-year old oak tree. Swings and chandeliers hang from the mature tree branches stretching towards the bayou. Sit outside and enjoy cocktails and order a cheese board, loaded with different fruit and varieties of cheese. At dusk, bats fly out from the bridge under FM 517, inspiring Marais’ Daily Bat Flight Special Happy Hour from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. During these hours, Bat-Tini cocktails are only $5 or for $2 order a Bat Out of Helles Beer.
Once seated, start off by choosing a cocktail. A specific section lists only absinthe drinks like the Absinthe Frappe made with Copper & Kings Absinthe, simple syrup, and club soda or A Perfect Pear made with Lucid Absinthe, pear vodka, peach schnapps, club soda, lime, and mint. Reasonably priced bottles of wine and signature drinks are also available. Order a Sazerac made with Knob Creek Rye, Demerara, Copper & Kings Absinthe, Angostura and Peychaud’s Bitters or a Bywater made with Bacardi 8 Rum, Green Chartreuse, and Foro Amaro.
Off of the Social Starters menu, choose from several appetizers designed to share. Try some blue crab beignets,
Varieties of oysters on the half shell are also available. Rich seafood gumbo is offered and there is a different soup made daily. Cajun-inspired dishes include Cajun grits
Seafood dishes include a seafood platter with golden fried catfish and fried shrimp, flash fried oysters, crab beignets served with fries, chipotle shrimp slaw and remoulade sauce or the bronzed sea scallops seared and served over creamy lobster and wild mushroom risotto and topped with Cajun hollandaise.
A menu of a la carte Steaks and Chops stands on its own with items like a 16-ounce Delmonico style rib-eye that is hand cut in-house or veal
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Ready to finish off your meal with a rich dessert? The crème
As with most new restaurants, there is an initial period of trial and error. Some of the servers are experienced and brought over from the Lilleys' sister restaurant Dickinson BBQ and other servers are new and still being trained. Whether you’d rather hold off and give this new spot a chance to address any issues over the next few weeks, or if you’d rather just jump right in and see what this place is all about, there is no doubt you will love the ambiance and vibe of this area's newest gem.
2015 FM 517 Dickinson, TX (218) 534-1986
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 4 to 11 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Monday.