Thursday, December 10, 2009

Your neighborhood super Marche in SFV

Max Restaurant was a staple in Sherman Oaks, the kind of place you would go to for a special occasion. The restaurant closed a couple months back and reopened as Marche (market in French). It's still under the same owner Andre Guerrero who is now teaming up with Gary Menes, recently from the ever popular Palate Food + Wine in Glendale. I still haven't made it to Palate so I was glad to be trying Marche, whose menu SIV likened to Palate and then gave the former a 2.5 stars stamp.

It's cozy inside with lots of Christmas decorations. There's an outside tarped patio area and I'm glad we were seated there because it was a very windy night.

The menu changes weekly and Marche offers small plates dining with deconstructed plates prepared with fresh and local ingredients. Most of the plates are priced at less than $20 except for the specials.

We ordered glasses of wine which our waiter just poured from an opened bottle table side. When I ordered another of the same glass, they refilled my existing glass. I love this casual bistro feel.

Marche makes their own bread and you can tell instantly. There was a choice of potato roll and rustic bread. The potato roll was fresh and warm in the center. The butter was homemade as well.

We decided to order a bunch of dishes (mostly meat) to share between the three of us. Our waiter even asked us if we wanted to add a vegetable dish and we made a last minute selection of a pasta dish.

Jamon, butter, pain grille
The Jamon is made in house although it tasted like something you could get anywhere. It was alright but not worth the raves from our waiter.

Country Pate, sauce gribiche served with crostinis
The pate was actually pretty dense and hard. I've had this type of preparation before but I much prefer the softer, mousse texture. This pate was a bit difficult to spread on the toast. Otherwise, it still tasted good but not memorable.

Ricotta Gnocchi with chanterelle mushrooms, green garlic, pea tendrils
This was a pretty small dish and I thought we were definitely going to be starving by the end of the night (thankfully the subsequent portions got bigger). The gnocchi was tiny, dense and cooked well. I loved the mushrooms and I thought it added some earthiness to this simple dish. Good pasta but I will probably not order it again because it wasn't all that flavorful.

Now, on to the meats!

Paquette de porc, anson mills polenta rustico, broccoli, apple mostarda
When our waiter described this dish, I instantly knew it was going to be a winner. Pork shoulder, feet and butt all mixed together so you knew that it was going to be absolutely tender and succulent. The meat was wrapped in a pork casing that was a little sinewy which was lovely. The polenta was very flavorful with a nice mix of creaminess and chunkiness. Even the broccoli tasted good. This was definitely my favorite dish of the night.

Lamb chop with parsnip and mushrooms
This was the only special of the night and our waiter let us know that there were only three of them left when we were placing orders. Very glad we got this. The lamb was perfectly cooked and tender. I liked the roasted parsnips which had a little sweetness.

Prime beef, treviso, forbidden rice, sauce vert
The beef was pre-sliced which made it easy for sharing. We were all wowed by the preparation of the meat. It was so tender and melt in my mouth. The forbidden rice was cooked al dente and had loads of flavors from the juice of the beef. I also liked the vibrant green sauce which had a nice spice to it. The treviso by itself was very bitter but worked well when paired with the beef and spicy sauce in the same bite.

Dessert was up next. There were many great selections such as ginger spice cake, meringue tart, variety of ice creams and sorbet, and smaller bites like cookies. Of course we had to get the chocolate desserts.

Mocha creme brulee, buttermilk donut
Our waiter had overheard us talking about it being my birthday (week) so he served my dessert with a lit candle. I made a wish of course.. hope it comes true!!! The mocha creme brulee was good (soft creamy custard with a hint of coffee) but the donut was the star. It was freshly fried, crispy on the outside and a bit airy in the inside. I could have had a brown baggie of those to go.

Trio of dark chocolate peanut butter cups
Looked simple but they were tasty too. There were layers of chocolate and peanut butter within the cup with a crunch of nuts on top.

Chocolate pistachio 'cobbler', pistachio ice cream, valrhona fudge sauce

Sauce was poured on the cobbler
This tasted like a molten chocolate brownie. The cobbler itself had the brownie consistency but the inside was soft, had pistachio essence and was oozing chocolate. The pistachio ice cream was delicious as well.

The food was excellent. Chef Menes really excelled on the meats and did a good job of cooking them and the accompaniments. The desserts were delicious as well and a nice end to a great meal. I also enjoyed the homemade bread and butter. The service was great from the friendly hostess, to our knowledgeable waiter to the attentive busboys. I'm happy to see small plate dining in the SFV, which is something that is more common in the Westside and Hollywood. I really enjoyed my meal at Marche; this truly is a neighborhood gem.

Hits: pork dish, lamb chop, beef, donut
Misses: gnocchi and pate were just OK
Rating: ****

Marche L.A.
13355 Ventura Blvd.,
Sherman Oaks, Ca 91423
(818) 784-2915


Daniel S. said...

Great write-up and happy birthday! All those meat dishes look very good, as do the peanut butter cups (the one at Craft is sublime!)

stuffycheaks said...

Thanks daniel. If you go, you have to try the pork. It was mouth watering.

SinoSoul said...

Happy belated! I'll never make it here, but I have heard bout it...

stuffycheaks said...

Thanks SinoSoul. LoL, it's not THAT far, especially with no traffic :)