The Marc

For pictures of food that I’m eating or sneak peeks into reviews I will be doing in the future, check out my instagram and don’t forget to follow for all future updates!

People: 2

Type: A La Carte / Tasting Menu

Price: $81.90 / $30.45 CAD

Verdict: Obsess

                 The Marc is a traditional Canadian bistro with french influences, located in the heart of Edmonton. Looking at the restaurant from outside doesn’t do justice to the atmosphere of the dining room itself. While the sign outside is fading and in need of replacement, the inside décor is vibrant and inviting. Windows on one wall and mirrors on the other deceive you into thinking the room is larger than it actually is but I would guess the restaurant seats only 30, albeit comfortably. That being said, the tables are still somewhat close together — so much that you’re able to pretty easily hear the people next to you. This gives the restaurant a cozy feel and invites diners to talk about the food they’re eating in a way that’s reminiscent of a lot of the Michelin restaurants I’ve been to. This is exactly what happened in my situation as both of the tables on either side actively engaged in conversations with us (although, part of that was probably because of the pictures I was taking and the notes I was typing out on my phone). The clientele were on the older side, with one or two tables in their 30s scattered about (our table not included). With the close proximity to the other tables, you would expect the noise level to be high but in fact, it was quite subdued. I don’t know if it’s the lighting or the ambiance, but things felt calm and relaxed and the volume of everybody else reflected that.

                 All of this is a long-winded way of saying the atmosphere at The Marc is one of the best in the city. This review will be split up into multiple parts; Service, Appetizers, Main, Dessert, Tasting Menu. The tasting menu was ordered by my companion and as such will be at the end and be mostly pictures. I didn’t try any of this menu or the extra appetizer she ordered so I will only be talking about the visual factor as well as any tidbits she shared with me about how the food tasted.

Service

                 Upon walking in the door, we were met by an empty host stand. This was 100% not an issue as I saw the bartender motion to another employee that we had walked in and someone had come up and greeted us within 10 seconds of arriving. I had made a reservation, and along with getting to choose between a couple options on where to sit, we were seated immediately. The waitress came over with water within a minute and offered us drinks, which she brought back promptly. My drink came with a glass which she poured into, at which point she explained the two different menus. Her demeanor was extremely casual and laid back and it fit perfectly with the vibe the restaurant was giving off. I feel super awkward being waited on TOO much and at The Marc, I didn’t feel that way at all.

                 We received bread and butter (both of which I’m assuming are made in-house. I didn’t ask but it would make sense that the bread is either made in-house or brought in from a local baker as it didn’t taste like a supermarket loaf) multiple times throughout our meal and she did a good job of being visible just enough that I didn’t feel bothered constantly. One slight against her was that after placing our order, I asked to see the dessert menu and ended up never getting it until the end of the meal. I like to plan out what I’m eating all at once so that was kind of a bummer but to be completely honest, I didn’t notice she didn’t fulfill my request until the end of the meal. At that point, even she realised she had messed up and apologized about her gaff and we went on with our night. Ultimately, it didn’t detract from our experience one bit and I definitely appreciated her making a big deal about apologizing even though it was a small request. New silverware was brought out as it was needed, which was a nice touch, and I never felt like the table was ever too crowded.

Appetizers

Escargot ($15.00)

Bone Marrow, Persillade, Horseradish, Pickled Shallots

                 The escargot was the appetizer that I did not have. It looked fabulous and made me regret not trying some. The pallisade made it seem like the escargot was plucked straight from the ocean, algae and all (some species of snails live in the ocean, trust me I looked it up). It really added to the whole rustic visuals it was giving off and the bone just helped to add to the “just caught this in the wild” feel. The tower of toasted bread was a nice contrast to the green of the rest of the dish and really helped deepen the colors even more. She described the dish as very buttery and really rich but the pickled shallots balanced it out. One knock I would have in the presentation is the sauce seemed to be too oily. Whether that was olive oil or the butter used in making the sauce, I don’t know.

Grilled Octopus ($16.00)

Sautéed Kale & Fennel, Chorizo, Grapefruit, Salsa Verde

                 What can I say about the grilled octopus? Exciting, beautiful, unexpected, vibrant, NEW. When the plate was first put in front of me, I was momentarily speechless. I was expecting a salad, akin to a grilled chicken caesar or something along those lines. What I got instead was something breathtaking to look at. The octopus had sear marks on it, the grapefruit with the complementary color of the octopus and the rich bed of greens perfectly encapsulated by a ring of bright yellow (which again, tasted like olive oil) was enough for me to take more than a few pictures.

                 It’s really easy to overcook/undercook octopus but this was done perfectly. Not chewy, easy to cut into (I was able to use a butter knife with no difficulties) and super salty, exactly what a proper cook tastes like. The arugula, kale and oil did a fantastic job balancing out the saltiness of the octopus and together in one bite, did wonders to mellow it out. The citrus from the grapefruit was a nice touch to have with the chorizo which I feel could have been spicier. I understand why it wasn’t as it would have overpowered some of the elements on the dish and admittedly, I am a spice junkie. Putting that aside, the sausage was full of flavour and were the perfect size so as to keep the octopus the main focus of the dish. The onions were the biggest surprise for me as I wasn’t expecting raw onions to be thrown in but they added a texture that rounded out the otherwise savoury dish. Lastly, the oil was a little heavy handed and if it hadn’t added to the visual WOW factor, I would have considered it a miss — Luckily, that allowed me to overlook it but it did make this appetizer a little heavier than it needed to be.

Main

“Bear & The Flower Farms” Confit Pork Belly & Diver Scallops ($38.00)

Confit Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, Parsnip Purée, Aigre-Doux

                 Beautiful sears and jaw dropping color is what defined this dish. There’s eye-catching color on every part of the plate and it’s crowned by the bold sears of the protein. Presentation was absolutely fantastic and causes you to take a minute to breathe in the aromas and visually striking nature of the entire dish. I was caught off-guard by how much I DIDN’T want to dig into it immediately, not because it didn’t look appetizing, but because I didn’t want to mess up this work of art. It felt like a canvas had been placed in front of me and I was absolutely giddy with excitement.

                 Both the scallops and the pork belly were easy to cut into — I didn’t even need a knife. The sear makes it seem as if the exterior would be a little tough but this was not the case at all. The cook on both was a joy to see and being able to forego the very sharp knife that was brought for this course was an amazing feeling — it’s difficult to describe the satisfaction you get being able to cut into something like butter. Pork belly was salty, scallops were perfectly cooked and the vegetables gave a snappiness that the melt in your mouth protein lacked. It was a good decision to leave the vegetables as untouched as possible or otherwise the dish would have just been a pile of mush — A blissful pile of mush, but mush nonetheless.

                 Now you might be thinking to yourselves, wow he really liked the centrepieces of this main. And you would be right, I really did like the pork belly and scallops. However, I thought the star was actually the parsnip purée. Who would have ever thought parsnip would cause me to dance in my chair? The creaminess of the parsnip is the smoothest mashed anything I’ve ever had. It’s like angels had descended from up above and created a cloud on my plate. As good as everything else was, the purée utterly elevates the dish to one of the finest examples of fine dining in the city. There literally are not enough good things I can say about it.

                 The aigre-doux (essentially sweet and sour sauce) pairs well with the salt in the pork belly and does a lot to mellow it out. It also adds exceptional flavour to the parsnip further increasing my love for it. The dark bits in the sauce that you see are shallots, their sweetness highlighted and magnified by the sauce. I found coupling it with the scallops and veggies really brought out their flavors as well. The last piece I want to talk about was the roasted pear — this is the only element I wasn’t sure about. Honestly, I was kinda meh about it and I feel if the pear hadn’t been there, this would have been the perfect dish. It doesn’t add anything that I can’t get from other stuff on the plate and just felt like padding, so to speak.

Dessert

Crème Brûlée ($9.00)

‘The Classic’ Burnt Vanilla Custard

                 The dessert was the most disappointing part of the meal. This isn’t because it was bad or didn’t taste good or any of that. It just didn’t live up to the expectations that the rest of the meal set. Crème brûlée is a classic, and The Marc’s version is faithful to it. However I expected more (to be fair the menu warns you about it) and that, admittedly, affected my opinion about it. The sugar was layered thick and had a gorgeous burn to it, with the custard underneath being a contrasting cold, it was the perfect crème brûlée. Unfortunately the other items were just SO GOOD, they overshadow the last part of the meal.

Tasting Menu ($29.00)

Sweet Pea Hummus & Fairwinds Farms Goat Cheese

Crackers, Peas & Crudités

                 Simple, bright colors highlight the unique hummus, combining cheese to create a delectable and inviting appetizer. The veggies add some much needed variation to the presentation and overall, it’s a nice looking dish.

Smoked Pork Tenderloin

White Beans, Brussel Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Cherry Tomatoes, Puffed Wild Rice, Radishes and Herbs

                 I felt the presentation could have been cleaner. We went earlier in the week so it’s possible they hadn’t nailed the look of the dish yet but looking at later pictures, they did refine it a lot and the meal ends up looking much better later in the promotion. That being said, it’s super vibrant and colorful and seemed like the right amount of sauce. The tenderloin looked like it was cooked perfectly and it was very tempting not to steal a few bites while my companion wasn’t looking.

Saskatoon-Berry Almond Frangipane

Served Warm With Chantilly Cream

                 Simple, clean, no frills are the defining characteristics of the presentation here. The frangipane looked airy and moist and the choice of saskatoon berries providing some pop in its color and texture. The crust looked crispy and the cream wasn’t runny and instead held its shape quite well. All in all, I was very pleased with the look of this.

Final Thoughts

                 The Marc is an elegant gem in Edmonton and rightfully considered one of the best restaurants in the city. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the conversation for a michelin star if we ever get any out here (which by the way, we’re long overdue for). Any criticisms I had, were from purposely being extremely picky because everything was of such a high standard.

                 You will feel right at home for lunch or dinner and be impressed and ruined on other cuisine once you experience the way their dishes are elevated from being good, to amazing. You should come here as often as you can afford to and I definitely plan on being a regular here. For those of you that are adventurous in their food, they are also working on a Chef’s Table program which will be open to the general public and I have really high expectations on what the kitchen will be able to do when experimenting on different dishes.

For pictures of food that I’m eating or sneak peeks into reviews I will be doing in the future, check out my instagram and don’t forget to follow for all future updates!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s