Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hello Marc

Charles and I visited The Marc yesterday evening. Arriving a little before our 8pm reservation, we were warmly greeted by owner Doris Saurette and then led to our table by the window after hanging our jackets at the front.

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

Mains took a little longer to come out than the previous course. Upon arrival, we immediately knew Charles dish would be the favourite once again. The lamb fell from the bone easily, and the delicate fat allowed each bite to melt immediately on the tongue. The accompanying potato mash was smooth and well seasoned, and the lavender-honey carrots were an excellent accompaniment, providing a sweet contrast to the savoury plate (Charles had also ordered a side of lavender carrots - $5 - which unfortunately didn't make it to the table. Our server did apologize afterwards though.).

Lamb, potato puree, lavender-honey carrots

As with my salad, parts of my main were good while others left something to be desired. The fish was perfectly cooked - moist, tender and almost creamy when combined with the flavourful saffron and tomato braising liquid. My issue was with the beans, which seemed a little under cooked and dry, as well as under seasoned. Such a contrast to the fish and broth was definitely disappointing, as each bite including the beans softened the best components of the dish.

Saffron and tomato braised wild snapper with PEI mussels and white bean pilaff

Despite the amount of chocolate I 'tested' at work yesterday, we decided on a piece of chocolate cake and an order of the beignets (all desserts are $6). The chocolate cake was slightly dry, but otherwise nicely flavoured, with a layer of salted caramel walnuts through the middle. The beignets were lovely though - crisp on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside, and combined with sips of coffee and the caramel sauce served along side, they were a great way to end the evening.

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.

The Marc
9940 106 Street
Hours: M-F (11:30am - 2pm and 5:30 - 10pm), Sa (5:30 - 10pm) Closed Sundays
The Marc on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Even thought the Marc didn't get full points in your review, I give you a 10/10 for a great post. Based on some of your delicious photographs and descriptions, Michael and I will give this place a try.

Marianne said...

Thanks, Cathy! Yes, definitely give it a try. Although my dishes weren't quite up to par it was definitely a nice night off, and Charles let me steal bites of his dishes, so I left happy. That cocktail didn't hurt either ;)

Cyrus said...

Nice descriptions! Thanks, Marianne!