Monday, September 14, 2009

Marea

Due to certain circumstances, Mr. Meat & Potatoes and I weren't able to go to Chicago for our anniversary anymore. However, we made it up with a nice dinner in the city. He picked all the other times. So he picked again this year. It's his thing. Happily for me, he picked Marea. I've been dying to go to this restaurant even before Chef Michael White picked a location. I've been following the news and reviews religiously. I loved Convivio, so I was expecting high grades from Marea as well. We arrived right on time for our reservation. We were seated right away. The decor is really simple but comfortable. There are lots of white around. But along the back is dark wood that made the place seem a little less formal. Although their dress code is pretty relaxed, I wouldn't feel comfortable in anything less than business causal. Most of the other diners wore suits and button downed shirts. The ladies wore suits or dresses themselves. The menu is primarily focused on seafood. There are a couple of meat dishes. But this is a seafood oriented place. It would be shame not to partake. They provide a la carte, a 4 course prix fixe ($89), and a 6 0r 10 course tasting menu. We decided on a la carte this time. Mainly because we wanted to save some money and also we wanted a bottle of wine. I chose a nice refreshing Chardonnay from the Loire Valley of France ($34). The meal started with some nice fresh bread. I had the sourdough and multigrain. He had the foccacia with olives and sourdough. My bread had a nice chewy crust but soft center. The foccacia was soft and savory from the olives. The oil on the table was light and flavorful. Next, they gave us an amuse bouche. It was house smoked salmon with some kind of lemon liquid. The salmon was very flavorful. You can taste the smokiness but also the fattiness of the salmon. So good. The lemon liquid wasn't sour at all. It was refreshing and definitely cleansed out palates. For appetizer, I ordered the Alstice ($24). It's lobster with burrata cheese. I love lobster and I almost always order it if it's on the menu. I was a little afraid of the cheese pairing because it can easily overpower the delicateness of the lobster meat. However, I am glad that I was wrong. The burrata was soft and very delicate itself. It reminded me of fresh mozzarella cheese but much lighter and soft and creamy in the middle. It was delicious. How have I not tasted this cheese before? Anyhow, this dish was so fantastic. So delicious. So happy. He picked the Calamari ($19). The calamari was stuffed with lobster and zucchini served with slow cooked tomatoes. This was so flavorful. The individual squid was just bursting withe flavor when you bit into it. It was very intense in a good way. This was oh so good too. Next, the entrees. I picked the Fusilli ($27) with braised octopus and bone marrow. This was so decadent and filling. At first, I thought the serving was small. But it was much more filling than I thought. The bone marrow added the fattiness that the dish needed. The octopus was cooked perfectly. The pasta was fantastic as well. I loved this dish. He picked the Spada ($36) which is grilled swordfish. He's never had swordfish before. I convinced him to get it because this was a good time to try. It came out perfectly cooked. Swordfish can be really terrible if it overcooked. The dryness and toughness of an ill prepared swordfish is almost inedible. But this was not. The middle was still slightly pink and there was so much juice. It tasted very good. I had enough room for dessert this time. I was going to get the affogato but I was curious about one other item on the menu: the Gianduja. I asked the waiter, whom has been very helpful throughout the entire meal. He told me about the Gianduja ($14). It consisted of a mousse and gelato. I was sold. He agreed. He thought it was a very good dessert. And I thought so too. The mousse tasted like a fancy Roche to me but better. The gelato was sweet and complemented the mousse very well. I was so happy with my pick. To end, they gave us some complementary chocolate. There was a bitter one (my favorite), a mocha, the citrus, and caramel. The meal was just fantastic from start to finish. Service was friendly and attentive. The only complaint I have is that the time between appetizer and entree was a little long. But it was okay. They gave us more bread in the meantime. I love this place. I can't wait to go back for the prix fixe menu. Oh yeah, I also had a celebrity citing. I saw Steve Martin dining there.


Marea 240 Central Park S New York, NY 10019-1457 (212) 582-5100 marea-nyc.com

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