On La Table’s website, “casual dining” is the explainer with Marché, intended likely to differentiate it from its “fancier” concept upstairs, Chateau.
But this label is delightfully misleading as I came to discover during a recent dinner. Marché offers ambience equal in elegance (albeit a wee bit more relaxed) than its neighbor Chateau, and its culinary offerings are similarly elevated in composition but not in price point. In short, “casual dining” is apt descriptor for the likes of Cafe Express; Marché deserves far better.
Although I arrived unfashionably late (15 minutes) to our reservation thanks to mutual confusion on the part of me and my Uber driver, I very much appreciate that Marché had not only seated the remaining members of my party but also served them an opening round of drinks. That responsive service continued throughout our meal, though it should be noted that we at no point felt rushed. The staff and kitchen simply managed to find that magical sweet spot whereby each course arrives in a timely fashion without compromising the feeling of leisure one tends to desire in a special-occasion dinner with friends from out of town.
We began with two orders of Marchés half-dozen oysters on the half shell. That’s 12 oysters, not 18 nor 24, as two of us mistakenly stated to our waiter, not because we were already drunk but rather because it turns out we’re horrible at basic math. Fortunately, our server understood arithmetic and delivered a dozen delicious bivalves. Their almost frighteningly fresh, briny taste and pillowy mouthfeel rendered them sufficiently delicious on their own; however, horseradish and crackers added welcome dimensions of spice and contrasting crackle.
We also shared a flatbread, which while not particularly novel with regards to its components (mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil, and pesto), was nevertheless delicious if only for the execution of a crust that balanced a crisp border with a soft interior that provided the perfect bed for gracious pats of cheese.
Who orders avocado toast at a nice restaurant? This reporter, ’cause I already bought a house, fool, so I’m not sweating it. In all seriousness, I was overcome with curiosity at the courage (or audacity) of Marché pricing this trendy breakfast staple at $17. I ordered what might be the most expensive avocado toast in town and unabashedly enjoyed it. Yes, I could smear avocado on toasted bread at home for far less money. What I paid for was everything that would require infinitely more time (baking my own buttery brioche), patience (evenly slicing a just-ripe Haas avocado) and skills I have not yet mastered (poaching two eggs such that their yolks are just verging on breaking). All the aforementioned aspects of Marché’s avocado toast turn it up to 11.
No one had room for dessert, but in the future I am game to sample Marché’s homemade ice cream. If their avocado toast is at all indicative of the kitchen’s ability to transform the ordinary into extraordinary, I bet they make a mean vanilla.