Just along a tree-lined path, near the RiverWalk and nestled in a historic brick building is the Rattlesnake Club: A Detroit restaurant that’s been servicing the city for over 25 years.
Rattlesnake prides itself on high-end quality food that’s locally grown and seasonally sourced. Their classy, American-style menu has a flare of sophistication, while maintaining the taste of home-style cooking.
We had a chance to chat with Alex Franz, the marketing director at Rattlesnake, about the history of the restaurant, along with their unique display of local and international art. We’re giving you an inside look at the menu and wine selection that makes this riverfront favorite an award winning Detroit destination.
An Inside Look
As you near the entrance to the restaurant, you are welcomed by a pleasant display of greenery and floral. An outdoor patio is available for an open-air, dining experience. Just up the steps and through the entrance is a grand welcome counter ready to take your reservation.
You look around the room and immediately are met by a diverse display of art and design. To your left, abstract paintings dot the walls with a depiction of color and shape; to your right a room full of unique Mexican masks sparks the imagination and strikes the senses. If that wasn’t enough, the carpet, ceiling and furniture feature striking colors of red, a bold testament of the restaurant’s confidence.
After a quick look around, I sat down with Franz to discuss the aesthetic of the timeless restaurant.
“We’ve been around since 1988,” began Franz. “We’ve updated furniture, painted and done things like that, but the basic build out has relatively stayed the same since the 80s. This restaurant was acquired at a time when there weren’t a lot of restaurants in the city; Especially the high-end, fine dining restaurant that it was at that point. The restaurant is really large: We have five private dining rooms; we have an enormous kitchen. Not a lot of restaurants are as big as we are anymore. We’ve evolved: We’ve added structures; we changed out the art.”
According to the Rattlesnake website, the restaurant first opened in the historic Stroh’s 300 River Place building. Today, Rattlesnake remains in the Rivertown neighborhood and stands on the restored RiverWalk. The view is breathtaking, with the sight of downtown Detroit and Windsor from the comfort of your table.
I asked Franz about the inspiration behind the art choices:
“We’ve got a lot of different artists,” she explained. “The pieces at the front desk and in the main dining room are all original Stella’s. In our “Mask Room” there’s a lot of Mexican art in there. A local artist made the chandelier. We’ve got a lot of different pieces. Now we have a lot of pieces that show this building’s heritage. Since the Stroh’s Company owns us, we also have a lot of their heritage pieces as well.”
I asked her about the origins of the concept for this riverfront restaurant.
“Rattlesnake is about bringing the outside in,” said Franz. “When we first opened, it was a lot of utilizing the outdoor elements. We have a lot of greens and blues. You’ll find that, especially if you look back at old photos, there were a lot of colors used. It was totally 80s back then,” she laughed, “but we enjoy the name. It’s unique and fun. And you can see the unique handrail outside, which is apparently a Pokémon stop!”
The rattlesnake-shaped handrail stretches from the sidewalk outside the restaurant to the entrance, setting the tone for what to expect beyond the front door.
We began discussing the menu. I asked Franz what Rattlesnake was known for:
“We always call ourselves New American or Contemporary American, so it’s a melting pot of a lot of different influences,” she said. “We try to stay on top of the trends, and while we are still gourmet and fine dining, we have a lot of small plates and a lot of different things. We evolve seasonally: Our tagline is “Locally Grown,” so we make sure to source Eastern Market and as many of our local providers as we can. It’s not really governed by any one specific type of cuisine. Our dishes tend to be more home-style: Our plates aren’t as modern as some other restaurant plates can be. They’re a little bit homier but with unique twists. Our sautéed lake-perch is our most well known dish. All of our steaks are prime-certified Angus beef, the highest-grade meat you can get.”
Whether you’re there for a fine-dining experience, a small-plate lunch, or happy hour, you’ll find quality service and comfortable dining space within Rattlesnake.
I inquired about the selection of spirits:
“We’re more of a wine house than anything else. We have cellars on site. We also infuse our own vodkas for a couple of our drinks. It’s a well-stocked bar: We do offer a little bit of everything. We have a lot of craft beers; Stroh’s Bohemian is available here. Our sommelier comes up with different cocktails every month. Mostly, we’re about the wines. We’ve won The Wine Spectator ‘Best Wine List’ award for the past several years.”
Stop On By
Rattlesnake is located within the Stroh River Place complex at 300 River Place Drive. The hours of operation are Tuesday – Thursday from 11:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., Friday from 11:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. The restaurant is closed Sunday – Monday.
Rattlesnake is a fine-dining experience with the comfort of home-style cooking. Be sure to grab an outdoor patio seat (before the summer’s over!) and take in a taste of good food and spectacular city views.
Be sure to comment on which Detroit restaurant we should feature next!