A Pleasant Restaurant Week Surprise – Dinner at The Marliave

Glenn – Frankly, I hadn’t been intending to “participate” in Restaurant Week. In addition, I had never considered dining at the Marliave. Recently, I’ve had some wonderful prix fixe meals through Mystery Meet and the culinary high point of my winter and spring was attending the Eat pop up restaurants created by Will Gilson and Aaron Cohen. To go out to a restaurant to eat from a “special”, i.e. often problematic, boring or iffy, Restaurant Week menu just didn’t interest me. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had some memorable RW meals – but I’ve also had formulaic, uninspired offerings that weren’t worth leaving the house for. However, Eleni, in town for a few days with her family, suggested we get together for Restaurant Week. Her criteria was that the resto be close to their hotel and be child-friendly. The Marliave met both guidelines and so we dined there for Restaurant Week.

Eleni – Restaurant Week has long been a staple in our lives although in the past year or so it has lost its momentum.  We used to try to get in two to three restaurants a week.  This year we hadn’t even planned one.  Knowing I would be in town and figuring it was worth the ask, we ended up at Marliave for dinner.

On my way there I was pleasantly reminded of cocktails at the Silvertone in the years before the cocktail resurgence, cocktail menus, and resources like those our friend Adam Lantheaume sells at The Boston Shaker were available.

When I realized where Marliave was located, on the corner, in the building with the beautiful balcony that reminded me of eating in Europe, my anticipation doubled.  The aesthetics are fabulous: old world mixed with modern touches.  The building itself is a stunner: trellis-like architecture, beautiful moulding, a variety of architectural details.  At the same time they have added modern elements: the bar is definitely of this era with its sleek granite counter tops (do I recall that correctly?) and the flatware (Wedgwood) and placesettings were classic and modern, too.

But I digress.

Katrin – After a day at the office that resulted in severely elevated blood pressure, the laid-back vibe and friendly bartender working the first floor bar helped to ease the transition to a relaxing evening. I started with not one, but two, Blind Pigs.  I couldn’t resist.  This light, delicious cocktail built around Hendricks gin was perfect!
Eleni – The volume of food was overwhelming.  We had the entire menu to tempt us and full portions were served. To begin, I had the escargot.  Classic and delicious. 
I also ordered my Junior Taster the Macaroni & Cheese made with ziti and black truffle oil.  While she was more interested in the forthcoming hamburger we enjoyed it on her behalf.  Presented in a vessel reminiscent of an Emile Henry lion’s head soup bowl (quite possibly itself), it had a delightfully creamy and soupy sauce one doesn’t often encounter in the ubiquitous comfort dish.
For the next course, the Fish and Chips.  The cod was some of the lightest fried fish I have eaten in quite some time.
Glenn – Yes, as Eleni stated this was the regular everyday menu – with a few deletions – rather than a “special” RW menu. Now isn’t this what Restaurant week should be about? Showcasing a restaurant’s cuisine rather than attempting a one-off menu. I began with a glass of the Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve – aromatic, medium-bodied, balanced, restrained. We then opted to split a bottle of Charles Smith’s iconic “The Velvet Devil”. My starter was a simple Caprese Salad –

Late summer perfection

– a lusciously ripe black Cherokee tomato, buffalo mozzarella, a drizzle of EVOO, a splash of balsamic, a chiffonade of basil – perfect! For my Second Course,

Sea scallops, wild mushrooms and pea raviolis

I chose Divers Scallops with Wild Mushrooms and Pea Ravioli. Three large sea scallops were perfectly seared and caramelized; the delicate sweetness of the scallops contrasting with the earthiness of the mushroom ragout; both highlighted by the clean vibrant taste of the pea-filled raviolis. And finally, my over-the-top dessert – Butterscotch Pudding with Salted Peanuts. I thought I’d found the quintessential butterscotch pudding at Nancy Silverton’s Pizzaria Mozza.

However, the offering at Marliave offered a new paragon of butterscotchness – creamy and smooth with deep flavor and nearly overwhelming richness. A tip of the toque to Pastry Chef  Sharon Claxton.

Katrin – So many choices!  I started with the mussels, which had a savory broth that would have been perfect on it’s own.  In fact, the only problem I had with it was that I could pick up the cast iron post and enjoy every drop!

Next, I went with another classic – Chicken under a Brick. Served with a creamy risotto and lots of mushrooms and roasted garlic, the chicken was perfectly done and had a crispy, salty skin.

Eleni – I went with the Cheese Plate as my finale and enjoyed sampling several cheeses and candied walnuts, but I ordered it to sample the lavender honey. 

From the top - Brillat Savarin, triple creme cow's milk; Lake's Edge, goat's milk; Roquefort Carles, sheep's milk. (Note the golden squiggle of lavender honey.)

 I’ve been experimenting with lavender food items since I purchased some lavender sea salt at the Farmer’s Market in San Francisco about five years ago.  Honestly, I was so stuffed I couldn’t enjoy a thing although I did sample Junior Taster’s berries with “mint, hibiscus and soft whipped cream” which was a nice, light ending to such a full meal.

Katrin – In closing, Marliave offers classic dishes done well and at a reasonable price for the Downtown Crossing neighborhood. It’s not fancy, cutting edge cuisine, but it almost doesn’t matter. With a long list of interesting cocktails at only $10 each, there is much to like here.

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2 Responses to “A Pleasant Restaurant Week Surprise – Dinner at The Marliave”

  1. August 31, 2011 at 3:00 am #

    Great review! I feel like Restaurant Week is a hit or miss, and I’m glad to hear you guys enjoyed Marliave. I’ve actually never been there but now want to check it out!

    • Glenn
      August 31, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

      Thanks for the comment! Yes, RW can be dicey, but the Marliave is definitely worth checking out. In fact, I can’t wait to go back to try the burger.

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