Cati treated me to dinner at Marche a few weeks back. I had wanted to go there for some time as I had heard/read a lot about the place since it opened in January 2007. I recall reading about how the well-regarded executive chef, Eric Masson, left just one week after the place opened for business. The investor/owners of 74 State back-filled Masson with the then 25-year old, assistant-chef, Brian Molino. I won’t recap the whole saga; see here and here for details.
We went on a Thursday night and the place was quiet (nowhere near the previously reported 72 decibels); there were very few diners. We were hospitably greeted, our coats were taken and we were brought through the dining room to our table. I had read elsewhere that the ambiance of Marche could be mistaken for a bank branch, and I would have to agree. The fixtures are angular, the seating sections divided, and the soft music is apparently piped-in via ceiling speakers. So, if you like dining in quiet booths, where people speak softly to each other, you’d like Marche’s set-up; it’s a style-call.
The servers were thorough and professional. Our waitress would quickly return from the kitchen with any answers she didn’t have handy when we first asked. I think she mentioned that she was pretty new to her job at Marche, but she did a fine job taking care of us. The menu at Marche reflected their local, market-fresh ethos. Practically every item on the specials menu was accompanied by a list of the local suppliers of the ingredients. We were presented with an excellent bread assortment and also served complimentary little samplings from the chef shortly after we ordered our cocktails; a nice touch, eh? I had my trusty and inconspicuous spy-camera with me, so I went to work.
For appetizers, Cati ordered the Grass-Fed Beef Carpaccio served with grape mustard, pickled shallots, and aged balsamic vinegar. It was also dressed with some toasted capers (I gotta try making them at home). I ordered the Grilled Quail.
Then she had the butternut-squash bisque, and I had the market salad (with beets and walnuts).
Chef Molino was not in the kitchen the night we were there. The sous chef, Erin Boyle was running the show that evening. Cati ordered the Wagyu beef special and our server returned to let us know that Chef Boyle was not comfortable with the quality of that particular cut of beef that evening. No problem; Cati wasn’t THAT set on it, and we understand that this is bound to happen when sticking to local providers. Cati asked our server what Chef Boyle might suggest as a substitute. Within minutes, Chef Boyle came out, introduced herself, explained the situation, and proceeded to suggest the “Sirloin and Shortribs- served with garlic mashed-potatoes, roasted asparagus, and Bordelaise sauce.” We appreciated the attention to quality. We’ll take a substitution any day over a sub-par meal. Even if a lousy meal is removed from the bill, you can’t un-ruin a dinner, right? Well played, Chef Boyle. The beef was excellent.
Unfortunately, Cati did encounter one of her dining-out pet-peeves; her food was brought out tepid. Cati is pretty easy-going about most things, but hot-dishes served luke-warm is not one of them. She sent the dish back to be heated up, and it came out more to her liking.
I ordered the “Roasted and Braised Duck.” It comprised roasted duck breast and duck leg confit served with honey crisp apple, farro, and braised radishes. The dish was both familiar and new; it was great. The duck was perfect, and it went very well with the turnips and farro with which it was served.
We ordered a bottle of the V. Girardin Pommard Burgundy (Pinot Noir). It was very nice. It went better with my duck than it did Cati’s beef; but hey, it was my birthday, right? [wink]
For desert, we had a pear mousse (I think. Memory…failing…). The mousse itself was rich and silky, but I wasn’t too crazy about the accompanying salsa. It was interesting, but I thought it was too tart. I guess they were going for an off-setting-flavors combo. I thought the flavors clashed. Cati liked it.
Although Marche may have gotten off to a rough start back in January, none of that was evident when we were there. Previous reviews have described Marche as being too “stately” and “by the book.” I concur that those descriptors are appropriate. We had a really nice time all-the-same (maybe I’m a sucker for the classics?). Next time, I’d like to go for one of their special events that feature local foods. An event like that might make for a livelier environment.
Also, I don’t like to solicit on this website, but this dog needs to find a job:
His career interests are to secure a position that will enable him to pay us back for the vet bills he racked up over the Thanksgiving Holiday. His dream job would be “cleaning-up” floor-scraps at a butcher shop or meat-packing facility. Maybe these guys are hiring (?).
Two late-night trips to the Animal Emergency Clinic in Latham (including an overnight $tay) and one trip to our vet in Albany (for x-ray$) adds up quickly. It would be unsanitary for me to discuss his symptoms in the same post with food photos, but he’s much better now. He gave us (including our visiting families) quite a scare. Turns out, it was likely gastroenteritis/colitis.
I won’t even go into how much he owes us for the (formerly) white shag-rug in the living room. [shaking head in disgust].