One of the first upscale, high-profile restaurant openings of 2021, Madam debuts Thursday inside the new Daxton Hotel in Birmingham.
The ground-floor restaurant with a sleek, contemporary design will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, and has an attached bar and lounge, also with a modern look. The Daxton is operated by the same team behind the Detroit Foundation Hotel and Apparatus Room restaurant in downtown Detroit.
The hotel’s owners have hired executive chef Garrison Price, an Illinois native who most recently managed restaurants in New York City. He’s worked under famous chef and cookbook author Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who has restaurants around the world. Price has worked as executive chef at Manhattan restaurants Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria and Il Fiorista.
“I’m super excited to be back, to be part of a smaller community,” said Price, who spent summers in Michigan while growing up. “Leaving New York was a tough decision, but I have family here and I think that’s what the pandemic taught us … what’s really important. I’ve been chasing my career for so long, this was a great kind of mix of both of those things, to be able to have the opportunity at Daxton and Madam and also be a little closer to home.”
Price spoke about the importance of keeping the staff — which includes food and beverage director Todd Shepard and former Roast manager Joseph Allerton as assistant food and beverage director — safe and comfortable while COVID-19 is still around. Price says the pandemic has “increased everybody’s self-awareness” on staff and he wants to put a focus on his employees’ personal safety and comfort level.
“I want my employees to feel safe,” he said. “And then, how do you negotiate that with guests? You have different guests that have different priorities and trying to be consistent with guests really makes you play out all of those scenarios so that you can get the best outcome.”
For customers, he’s focusing on creating food that is as nutritious as it is flavorful and sourcing ingredients that are local and sustainable.
“For me, nutrition and flavor are equal things,” he said. “It’s not just the idea of elevating ingredients themselves and … manipulating them as little as possible, but in a way that gives you a new perspective on them.”
“I’m looking forward to supporting local farmers and people who are using, for example, regenerative agriculture practices, as opposed to buying commodities.”
Beyond the dining room, Price said he wants the “Madam experience” to translate to hotel guests who are ordering room service, and people using the Daxton’s private 260-person event space.
“The idea isn’t just ‘elevated banquet food,’ but to bring food that we’re doing at Madam into other areas of the hotel,” he said.
For its opening day, Madam will serve lunch and dinner, with breakfast service starting Friday. There will be an Easter brunch on Sunday with buttermilk pancakes, buckwheat waffles with cured salmon, a poached egg dish, baby artichokes, fresh-squeezed juices and pastries.
Price said he wants the restaurant to have light enough cuisine and competitive pricing so that if one wanted to, they could dine there for lunch one day and have dinner the next.
“We do have decadent stuff. We have foie gras and Wagyu beef, but just looking forward to being able to have something that you can eat every single day of the week. You can come for lunch, you can come for dinner the next day. It’s not just a once-a-month splurge meal,” he said.
The dinner menu, for example, is on par with similar upscale restaurants in the area, with pizzas and small plates such as prime beef tartare, Serrano ham fritters and mushroom dumplings all under $20. Entrees like pasta, sea scallops and roasted cauliflower are around $25-$35, with a Wagyu strip loin entrée or dry-aged duck dinner for two in the highest range.
“We like to think of Madam as a sophisticated, well-traveled woman that is ready for anything and has a little spontaneity,” said Price. “I’m looking forward to putting together some fun food that’s not too manicured but just kind of something that’s fun and playful with some global influence.”
Madam officially opens Thursday inside the Daxton Hotel, at 298 S. Old Woodward in Birmingham. Call (248) 283-4200 or visit daxtonhotel.com/food-drink to reserve a table.