Home > Eating, New York City, North America > NYC: Marea (Aug. 2012)

NYC: Marea (Aug. 2012)

Authors: Victor and Monty
Restaurant: Marea
Exec Chef: Michael White

Date: August 13, 2012

Victor’s Notes: Monty had only been here once for dinner, and he had a terrible experience. I wanted him to try dinner here, as my last dinner here was wonderful. In the end, he enjoyed the meal a lot (and was rather surprised haha)!

Food:

Amuse-bouche 1:
Sea diver scallops with turnip, mint, and corned cream.

Monte: Mint, corn, and scallops…great combination of flavors. It seems simple, but it’s really well executed

Amuse-bouche 2:
“Richie” (crostini topped with uni and lardo).

Monte: The lardo is incredibly delicate. It has all the flavors of pork fat plus something else – smokiness? It’s just so rich – not at all like the already-amazing bacon. The uni just adds onto the richness, with that extra added oceanic element. This amuse just melts your mind.

Course 1:
“Tasting of crudo and oysters”
Left: Snapper with pistachio and mandarin.
Middle: Coarse mackerel with sweet potato chip and lemon.
Right: Sweet chu-toro tuna with caper.
Top: Oysters (details after the crudo pictures).

Left: Snapper with pistachio and mandarin.

Middle: Coarse mackerel with sweet potato chip and lemon.

Right: Sweet chu-toro tuna with caper.

Left: East Beach oysters from Rhode Island.
Right: Kumamoto oysters from Washington.

Monte: I feel like oysters and crudo are delicious to eat, but really hard to write about. Good crudo is fresh, with light and playful added elements. But I’ve never had crudo or oysters from a certain place that was that drastically better than the other (although I have had really bad ones, the great ones are never that distinguishable). I can however, comment on oysters. Kumamotos, while smaller, are much sweeter than the East Beach oysters (and, actually, much sweeter than most other oysters I’ve eaten).

Course 2:
Lobster salad with creamy burrata cheese and pickled eggplant.

Monte: The lobster here is amazingly meaty and sweet. I’ve heard of the cheese and seafood faux pas, but this dish is really creamy and awesome.

Course 3:
Zucchini blossom with bread crumbs, watercress, and zucchini purée.

Monte: The tempura style zucchini blossom was really crispy, but not anything too different from the way that some other Japanese restaurants do it. Still, that’s solid enough.

Course 4:
Lightly cooked mackerel with golden raisins, Nameko mushrooms, and crustacean reduction.

Monte: Really rich and sweet. I think the golden raisins were brilliant to add a little tart and sweetness to the dish. It paired really well with the salty fishy mackerel.

Course 5:
Oriecchette pasta with shrimp and rosemary.

Monte: The pasta is a perfect al dente – it’s chewy and has a bite to it, but gives as soon as you press down past that initial firmness. It’s awesome. The flavors of the dish were spot on with its creamy rich salty goodness.

Course 6:
Fusilli with a brace of octopus and bone marrow.

Monte: This dish was different from the previous one, but not too different – it was actually kind of surprising how similar they were. The pasta was cooked perfectly again, but it just felt like a lot of pasta to eat in one sitting. The octopus was pretty tender (not Jungsik tender, but still very tender) and the sauce was much richer due to the marrow-elements replacing the shrimp/seafood elements.

Course 7:
Seared sirloin steak with bone marrow, panzanella salad, and Romaine lettuce.
Croutons on the side.

Monte: This felt like a bizarre salad – I think due to the romaine and croutons. Still, the steak shone through and the little bits of fat clinging to the edge of the meat were sinfully delicious. The croutons were actually really big – about the size of an eyeball (is that too weird of a reference? I think it is. But it’s accurate, size-wise) and oily but crunchy.

Course 8 (They called it a “palate refresher”):
Melon soda (watermelon and elderflower).

Monte: I don’t know what elderflower really tastes like, but I wish I did. So in that regards, this dish was a little lost upon me. But watermelon soda is always good.

Course 9 (Dessert!):
Bottom: Olive oil cake, prosecco, olive oil sorbet, and strawberry gelato.
Top left: Chocolate ganduja with banana gelato and caramelized banana.
Top right: Bombolone (sugar doughnut), chocolate sauce, and white expresso gelato.

Victor: The ganduja was amazing. Monty can attest!

Monte: The Ganduja was amazing. It was bizarre at first, with the familiar combination of chocolate and banana strangely unfamiliar with the execution of the ganduja. After I got used to it though, I was thrilled. It’s really unlike any “chocolate and banana” I’ve had before and I can’t really explain how it’s different, other than to say the flavors are somehow more intense and individual – one doesn’t overpower the other. Also, I think the white chocolate espresso was really special – it was intense and dark.

Mignardises:
-Raspberry gelée.
-Salted caramel.
-Coffee cream puff.

Monte’s closing thoughts: So I used to really dislike Marea. We went for lunch a couple months ago and it was horrid – the food was criminally plain, and the service was straight-up awful. And having grown up eating at random dingy but delicious Vietnamese holes in the walls in Westminster and San Jose, I’m quite used to rude service. But that lunch straight-up turned me off. This dinner however, righted the previous wrongs. The service was polite, and most importantly, the food was amazing.

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