Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Not horrible, but not worth it: Marcel's

Our inaugural weekend visit to Marcel's was enjoyable enough, but not worthy of recent rankings in several of DC's top ten lists. First, let me say that we were impressed by the decor, a beautiful space with a lovely open and elevated kitchen. Also intriguing was the menu selection: can you say options? Anywhere from three to seven courses are available from between $42 and $110. Twenty-eight different offerings are spread across seven courses, that are really more like categories: appetizer, shellfish, fish, game, meat, cheese, and dessert. The menu also offers a nice variety of French wines.

The service was also exemplary. Our service captain, Theo, was helpful and attentive, but what struck me most is that he truly believes in Marcel's cuisine and chef Robert Wiedmaier. For my taste, however, there were far too many courses not to be believed in...the snails were chewy, the scallop and foie gras not seared enough, and the tuna over seared, almost cooked. The meat and game were much more pleasing, in particular an herby bison filet, and venison roast served with a perfect root vegetable purée. At first, we weren't enticed by the dessert and cheese options but when we saw a soufflé go by, we changed our minds - personally, I'm always a sucker for a souffle. Unfortunately, this hazelnut example just wasn't the best, though curiously plenty of diners arrived just for dessert.

I come away with the conclusion that Wiedmaier's talents are chops, roasts, and charcuterie, which are on better and less expensive display at Brasserie Beck. For my money, Marcel's isn't worth the price.

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