Marche - Menlo Park
Not sure why this restaurant hasn't garnered more attention. They have a four course tasting menu that changes monthly for $55 - this month it is "Simple and Sublime" Cracked Dungeness Crab, Caesar Salad, Local Petrale Sole- stuffed with Swiss Chard, Meyer Lemon Sorbet, this allegedly is the meal the chef cooked at home for his friends as "A welcome respite from the excesses of the Holidays"
Their regular menu is seasonal. I had a sublime starter following a wonderfully rich and tasty amuse bouche of mushroom soup.
The starter Assiette Cru is described as raw Ahi tuna, diver Scallop Tartar, Hog Island Oyster, Oyster Chantilly, Herb Infused Olive Oil $18- which doesn't really do justice to the wonderfully fresh fish and lovely tastes - oyster chantilly is creme fraiche with sprinkles of salt. Chef suggestion is that it be used as a "dip" for the other fish. Absolutely fantastic!
I decided on another "starter", not on the menu that was described as foie gras on a carmelized onion tart - a bit expensive at $30. I asked and was told that it was 5 oz. of foie gras so decided to go for it.
The disappointment - it was about a 2 oz potion, not served hot BUT the taste was wonderful. Very sweet complementary carmelized onion in a puff pastry. At the smaller size it WAS expensive.
With the two starters and 2 of the wonderfully warm Acme sour dough rolls (well, and too much wine) I was too full for dessert. I was served five wonderful small pastries, complimentary - which I enjoyed at home later!
Rest of menu - starters $11 (handmade empanada)-$18 (assiette Cru), salads $9, sides $6, Mains 30is - including Ahi tuna, Tai Snapper, Duck, Beef or Lamb (interesting sounding Lamb Pot Au Feu - Ribeye, shank and rib of lamb, root vegetable, crouton and fress herbs $34), desserts around $8
They have a very extensive wine list (somewhat pricey) and sedate interior with really excellent service. Love to hear whaat others think.
Sad to learn it's closing. bbulkow, I gather you didn't get a chance to try it under its original popular chef Howard "Howie" Bulka, who made Marche known with his flair for comfort-foody high-end cooking (until he dropped the "high-end" angle a couple years ago to found Howie's Artisan Pizza in Palo Alto at the utterly remade, yupscale Embarcadero Town & Country plaza).
Marche was something of a high-end destination restaurant (I've mentioned it in past threads on Pensinsula destination dining), not always noted for high wine pricing. But some very good pizzas have been served recently at Howie's, I have to credit Bulka for doing what he not only seems to like, but does well.
Howie's Artisan Pizza
855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Marche is closing in a week or so. I dropped in last night, and was sorry I waited so long. The atmosphere is a bit stuffy, but the back bar is plenty nice. A burger back there is a treat on a cold evening. We were quite happy with the beet salad, but the crab salad was slightly underwhelming - as crab often is if served long after cracking. Prices are fairly high but the $55 prixe fixe looked fairly nice. Wine prices were *HIGH* and I was a little disturbed that the very pleasant wine I had by the glass without pricing was $18 per. Perhaps worth it; hate learning that kind of price after the fact. With all other wines by the glass at $9/$12, I expect to be told about something that far from their normal.
Anyway - too bad, maybe we'll get something new there.
I have had really good meals at Marche. I also like the ambience, it's kind of New York comes to the California suburbs, dark leatherish banquettes, tables close together, high ceilings.
I had some halibut there that was amazing. And I was there alone, and was treated well. However, it's really expensive. I'm thinking it was $100 just for me with two glasses of wine.
This place is fantastic! Here is a brief review I posted on my Yelp page - I'm very smitten with this restaurant. It oozes modern romance. The interior is inviting with hardwood chocolate booths banking the right wall and beautiful tables dressed in white nestled in the center dining room under large dramatic drum lights. You get the feeling you might be dining in a nice home - intimate, but without feeling crowded.
The menu at Marche is seasonal with a lot of variety. The wine list is eye popping and can be a bit overwhelming. Plates that wowed me: Hal's Duck prosciutto was delicate and luxurious, roasted guinea hen perfectly crisp with fingerling potato in a heavenly sauce (so good you had to get your bread in there!) and for the finale a lovely blackberry shortcake with fresh whipped cream and honey lavender ice cream. This place has excellent service, outstanding food and ambiance to match. Marche is perfect place for any special occasion. Additionally, they have two private dining rooms for larger parties.