Drinks with a skyline view are now available in Grand Rapids with the opening of Haute at New Hotel Mertens. The rooftop opens at 4 p.m. today.
Anthony Tangorra has been envisioning the new space since opening French restaurant New Hotel Mertens last fall. The rooftop lounge is located on the ninth floor of the 35 Oakes St SW building that is also home to the restaurant.
“It worked out better than I anticipated,” Tangorra said of bringing his vision to reality. “You don’t know how things are going to turn out until you get there. From the furniture to the overall look and feel, especially at dusk and when it goes into night.”
Tangorra added, “It feels like the perfect situation where you have one foot solidly in Grand Rapids, because you look at the skyline and know where you are, but at the same time you wonder what state, what continent am I in? You feel transported. We have the same effect downstairs, but this is sort of on a different plane.”
The rooftop space does not disappoint. Offering an elegant yet laid back vibe with soft seating in a variety of arrangements, the space is perfect for a romantic night or gathering with a group of friends.
Tangorra’s design inspiration comes from trips to the South of France.
The lounge seats up to 40 people at a time and is available for private party rentals.
The lounge will be open for dinner first, with lunch following shortly after, and Tangorra said if demand warrants, weekend brunch hours may be added.
Food & Drinks
Tangorra envisions diners drifting up to the ninth floor for drinks and hors d’oeuvres following dinner downstairs at New Hotel Mertens. But the rooftop menu is also perfect for pre-dinner cocktails, and the light fare won’t fill you up before dinner.
“It’s certainly a different experience than New Hotel Mertens in that we are not a full restaurant,” he explained. “It’s hors d’oeuvres, substantial hors d’oeuvres, and fresh seafood.”
For instance, the menu features a variety of cornets (ranging from$12 – $22) that can easily be shared. Tangorra explained that cornets are tiny savory cones, adding, “very cute, very Instagramable.”
“There will be six to seven different cornets that you can order, depending on the day, you can mix and match cones. It’s the perfect finger food for a rooftop deck.”
There are several French cheeses available and charcuterie and vegetable boards. The menu includes a Plateau de Fruits de Mer (starting at $65) or you can enjoy shrimp cocktail ($19.5), Jonah crab claws ($3.5 per claw) or Stone crab claws a la carte. You can also order oysters on the half shell.
Desserts include Croquembouche, Tart Tatin, Chocolate Pot de Crème, and Jaffa Cake ($10 each).
Haute’s menu also includes 10 signature cocktails and a healthy spirits list.
While Tangorra created the South of France inspired menu, he brought in Michael Goessman to serve as gestionnaire de cuisine and bring the menu to life.
Goessman said the Haute menu as “extremely laid back and casual,” and he said diners shouldn’t expect to fill up, noting, “The most filling thing on the menu would be the wine.”
But he said the menu is the perfect accompaniment to long summer evenings. “As you sit up here in the sunshine, you don’t want to eat something too heavy.”
He suggested indulging in the menu’s wine list and enjoying a shareable snack. “Everything [on the menu] is, for the most part, charcuterie based.”
He noted the [Fruits de Mer] Grand Platau ($125) includes an entire lobster, clams, mussels, a dozen oysters, crab claws and shrimp. There is also the a la carte option to let you pick and choose exactly what you want.
Goessman comes to Grand Rapids from Montana with a handful of stops in between. He began his culinary career in Puget Sound, Washington, where he attended culinary school, after learning to cook as a child.
“I grew up cooking with my mother. I grew up in a really small town, Gallatin Gateway, in Montana,” Goessman said. “Most of my time was spent in Montana, a couple of years I worked in NYC. My now fiancé, Summer, we moved out there together. Most recently we lived in Nashville.”
It was his fiancés longing for home (she’s from Reed City) that brought them to Grand Rapids and Goessman said a visit to the New Hotel Mertens bar for a Paper Plane ended with a job offer.