The Marquette Hotel in downtown Minneapolis has undergone quite the renovation, converting to the Curio Collection by Hilton and revamping… pretty much everything. The opening of a new restaurant—Jolliet House—is the final touch in the hotel’s $25 million (!) overhaul.
The former Basil’s Restaurant—which food and beverage director Matt Holder describes as the heart of downtown—is now Jolliet House, named for 17th-century French-Canadian fur trader and explorer Louis Jolliet. And that’s not its only notable namesake.
Basil’s held some claim to fame for its terrace making a brief appearance in the opening sequence on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
That terrace—which looks out over the IDS Crystal Court—has expanded, doubling in size to 950 square feet. Its new name? The Mary Tyler Moore Terrace.
It’s this terrace that really makes the restaurant (710 Marquette Ave.). While the inner space is cozy and luxe, with ruby-red walls, gray-white floors, and black chairs, the terrace offers tranquility. When we attended the soft opening of Jolliet House’s brunch service, we here wrapped in sunlight and the peaceful sounds of a jazz duo and the Crystal Court’s waterfall. Acoustics are perfect, so other conversations don’t intrude. It’s the kind of feeling you try to capture at your own at-home brunches.
While we were tempted by the $15 bottomless mimosa deal, the fact that we (regretfully) needed to drive after dissuaded us. Still, for hotel guests or downtown residents, it’s a nice offering. And we soothed our sorrows with a pork belly quiche, which was was warm and custardy, its gentle flavor balanced by a bright side salad studded with marinated red onions, juicy grape tomatoes, and a perfectly salted dressing.
Because Basil’s was such a go-to for business lunches, Holder and the other folks behind the redesign were careful in making updates. Jolliet House offers "Express Executive Lunches,” which gives diners a nice sit-down meal that doesn’t take too long. You can choose a soup or salad, followed by a sandwich and dessert. “We’re looking after the people around us,” Holder says.
“We’re excited to have the space officially open with its new menu offerings, allowing hotel guests and the public to experience one of the Twin Cities’ most well-known and iconic dining venues,” adds Neville Erasmus, general manager for the Marquette Hotel.
Those new menu offerings—like brunch’s Benedict with Cajun walleye cakes, the Express Executive Lunch, and the self-serve salad bar—aren’t necessarily going to blow your mind, but the menu, Holder points out, is playful. He was especially pleased by the chicken and waffle sliders for brunch and the chicken salad sandwich at lunch, which is mixed with roasted grapes and dried fruit and topped with thin apple slices.
Overseeing Jolliet House’s breakfast, lunch, and Sunday brunch is executive chef Chris Blackwell, who has been with the hotel since 2017 and the launch of the Marquette’s other restaurant, Jacques.
Jolliet House is a solid entry into downtown Minneapolis’ dining scene. Guests and office workers alike will find something to satisfy, and everyone can enjoy that light-drenched terrace any time of year.
“We’re the only ‘year-round patio’ in Minneapolis,” Holder jokes. But he’s not really kidding.