As others have described, the room itself is fairly streamlined, with polished concrete floors, dark windows, white linens and paint, and a long mirror along the west wall that allows you to see almost everyone in the restaurant, and them to see you. One thing both of us enjoyed was the semi-open kitchen - on the way to the washrooms, the small kitchen is wide open for all to see. There's definitely something intriguing regarding visibility going on in this space (read: in a way I would like to write a paper on it for an urban anthropology class).
9:30 and the room was clearing
After a long day at work, a drink was certainly in order. Charles went for a glass of white wine, while I decided on a Ginger Roger's cocktail (Victoria gin, ginger ale, lime and mint) which turned out to be a flavourful, smooth start to the evening. For food, it would be braised beef cheek ($10) and lamb shank ($23) for Charles, and roasted beet salad ($8) and the daily fish - saffron and tomato poached wild snapper and PEI mussels with white bean Mediterranean pilaff ($20) - for me. I should also note that they were out of the duck confit by the time we arrived last night.
Our appetizers came out quickly after we were provided with a piece of bread and butter each. The smell alone made it immediately obvious that the beef cheek would be the star of the table. Soft, rich, tender meat fell apart as soon as Charles touched it, and combined with perfectly cooked potato, decadent braising liquid and crispy salsify chips, each bite was something to linger over. I enjoyed my beet salad, although not quite as much. The components of the salad were all excellent, my only complaint would be the large amount of frisee overwhelming the delicate sweetness of the beets.
Beef cheek, potato, salsify chip
Roasted golden beets, frisee, pecans, goat cheese
Lamb, potato puree, lavender-honey carrots
Saffron and tomato braised wild snapper with PEI mussels and white bean pilaff
Service throughout the evening was friendly and relatively prompt, with owners Patrick and Doris Saurette stopping by tables often throughout the evening to deliver food and drinks, clear plates, and refill water glasses. Doris also suggested a beautiful, almost spicy, white wine that went with my main well. We appreciated both being obviously present on the floor throughout the evening, checking in with customers and helping out busy wait staff.
A combination of fond memories of il Portico (the owners were obviously familiar with many of last night's patrons) and recent buzz from both Eat My Words (here and here) and the most recent edition of The Tomato (see page 20), have certainly set expectations high for The Marc. Overall, we had a good experience; that said, Charles brought up this morning that with their limited and static menu (save the daily fish and desserts), there's nothing drawing him back any time soon... although I think he might be swayed at the mention of braised beef cheek.
9940 106 Street
Hours: M-F (11:30am - 2pm and 5:30 - 10pm), Sa (5:30 - 10pm) Closed Sundays