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Restaurant Death Watch - Marliave

d
DoubleMan May 28, 2009 07:10 PM

I went to Marliave for the first time in a while tonight. I guess everyone else has also not been back in a while. The place was a ghost town. If Marliave does not have a solid afterwork crowd, I don't see how it can stay open much longer. Maybe there are some very deep-pocket backers, but they certainly can't be making too much money these days.

We arrived at 6pm - there were 4 customers in the downstairs, main bar area. We sat at the bar and I had a ridiculously sweet Molasses Flood of 1919.

Two women next to me asked one of the bartenders what St. Germain was. His reply, "It's, uh, this" (as he brought the bottle over to show the women). One woman asked how it tasted. The bartender said "Umm" and then asked the other bartender what the main ingredient was. St. Germain isn't exactly an exotic ingredient these days. Not knowing about the major ingredients in drinks on the menu is unforgivable in my book, especially at a place that bills itself as a serious cocktail bar. Also, for the record, Marliave is NOT a serious cocktail bar by any stretch. I've heard rumors of B-Side alums working some shifts and making great drinks, but I've never had anything other than lackluster drink service.

The three of us decided to grab one of the empty tables to make conversation easier than at the bar. We settled at the bar and moved to a table for some more drinks and food. After an oddly long wait given the lack of customers our waitress arrived.

We asked about the $1 oyster special. She said that we could only get the $1 oyster deal if we sat at one of the bars (by this time the bar had three customers and, including us, six customers at the tables). Huh? We pressed her on it after she returned with drinks. She said she would ask a manager. It worked out. If we had been denied the oyster deal I probably would have hit the floor laughing.

Our food was fine - cheese plate, mussels, oysters, and a pastrami sandwich. Nothing that special, everything was just pretty good.

When we left at 8pm, the crowd was up to about 8. Sad. Not a good sign for a Thursday evening. Marliave is a cool space and has such great potential. Too bad it's full of fail right now.

My lunch trip to Flour was a serious contrast. It was delicious and ridiculously packed. Not everyone is hurting these days.

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  1. c
    Canadian Tuxedo May 28, 2009 07:51 PM

    You read my mind. I was thinking, though felt bad about it, along exactly the same lines (albeit without the food order). I was there last Wednesday and had a similar experience. Poorly made drinks in a bar that was a ghost town after work.

    Arrived around 5:30 after stopping in at Silvertone where the bar was already full while some tables where empty (but wasn't ready to sit down for dinner yet). Moved on to Marliave to show it to a relative newcomer to town. We had come from Eastern Standard and the cocktail craft was incredibly weak in comparison at Marliave. There were about 4 people in the downstairs area when I left around 6:30.

    If that is the normal situation, it cannot be long for this world.

    1. MC Slim JB May 28, 2009 08:11 PM

      You could say the same about a lot of restaurants in town. Very brisk business the last couple of times I've been, on weekend nights (very enjoyable meal, mostly off the cafe portion of the menu)

      It's the same story at a lot of places in town. Nobody dines out on weeknights anymore. If there's a place you love, dine there from Sunday to Thursday.

      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

      12 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB
        fmcoxe6188 May 29, 2009 05:55 AM

        I have to politely disagree. I eat out pretty frequently on week nights and really havent seen a downturn of patronage. Silvertones this week was packed, in the past couple of weeks LTK, 75 Chestnut, Luckys, walking past Toscanos and No 9 -all pretty well populated inside on weeknights. Its been giving me hope in the face of the recent news of Aujourd hui and Great Bay...

        Just my experience recently

        I havent gotten to Marliave yet- was planning to check it out this coming week- I guess I better get on that!

        1. re: fmcoxe6188
          MC Slim JB May 29, 2009 06:09 AM

          Hearing that restaurants are busy in the wealthiest neighborhood in the city isn't terribly surprising, nor after-work spots for the Financial District crowd. There are places that are doing well seven nights a week (can't remember the last time I saw a slow night at Toro, for instance). But I'd guess a lot of industry folks would tell you that weeknight business is grim at many places around town. Fridays and Saturdays still boom.

          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

          1. re: MC Slim JB
            fmcoxe6188 May 29, 2009 07:14 AM

            Hmm-thats a good point- though when I went to Carlos out in Allston a few weeks ago on a Tuesday it was steady as well. -again just my observations and probably some wishful thinking :-)

            1. re: fmcoxe6188
              t
              twentyoystahs May 29, 2009 09:36 AM

              The Sat & Sun boom may be true for some restaurants, but unfortunately I'll have to agree with DoubleMan on this one. I went to Marliave for the first (and to be honest, probably last) time a couple of weeks ago, on a Saturday night, peak time at 7:30. The place was dead. There were a few folks at the bar, maybe one or two other tables taken. I walked upstairs just to take a look at the dining room and there was nobody in there.
              I wouldn't blame this one on the economic downturn --it just hasn't taken off. It should certainly have a great after work crowd (Silvertone clearly does and they are just around the corner, so it has nothing to do with location!) and at the very least, be busy on weekend nights!
              The food was just ok, and I found the whole atmosphere pretty cold and not all that welcoming. It was alright, but no place I'd be rushing back to.

              1. re: twentyoystahs
                Bob Dobalina May 29, 2009 09:38 AM

                You might be surprised about the location - I know several people who are familiar with Silvertone but who were clueless about the location of Marliave. It is tucked a little out of the way in my opinion. They ought to put out a sign near the Beantown directing people down the dead end.

                1. re: Bob Dobalina
                  rlove May 29, 2009 10:00 AM

                  Bob, I think you are spot on. The location is down a dingy alley (Bosworth St).

                  It appears that they are doing work on improving the entrance on the cross street (Province St, I think?) and the pathway connecting Bosworth to the cross street. Additionally, when I was there last, on Memorial Day for a quick drink and late lunch, they were also paving with attractive brick the end of Bosworth outside of Marliave (Chef Scott was outside supervising).

                  I hope those investments pay off.

                  Another thing that always irked me about the place was the split personalities--downstairs with a casual menu, upstairs with a formal menu, and the raw bar with a separate entrance, plus a bar in both the upstairs and downstairs. They've taken some steps to unify all of those places--I think the upstairs menu is now the same as their "dinner at marliave" menu downstairs.

                  Despite all this, I've liked Marliave since it first opened and was the talk of Chowhound, and I hope it makes it. The space is unique, the history is neat, the cocktails are good (but inconsistent), and the food is great, particularly given the price point.

                  1. re: Bob Dobalina
                    t
                    twentyoystahs May 29, 2009 07:22 PM

                    Of course, I totally agree about the location. It is sort of out-of-the-way, no doubt. I guess what I was saying is it's in the downtown crossing area, just like silvertone, and people seem to make ample effort to make it to silvertone..so they certainly could do the same with Marliave. I think it's a cool space, lots of history, a great concept --but something's missing. The food was just ok. Like I said, the place just didn't feel all that warm to me...when I'm out for dinner, i want to get that vibe...i.e. a place like Hungry Mother does it right. Marliave...not-so-much. Believe me, I wanted to like it. And I hope they can hang in there. But.....they've gotta be hurting right now. If they aren't busy on a Saturday night, when are they busy????? Yikes.

                    1. re: Bob Dobalina
                      9
                      9lives May 30, 2009 06:20 AM

                      I think you have basically 2 sets of people, those that knew Marliave when it was open some years ago(and awful Italian American food) but was 1 of a few sit down options for a mid price lunch in the area, and know the location..and people who didn't know it and to whom it is a "new" location...and may find it tough to find. Maybe a 3rd set who remember it from when it had good food?

                      I've been 3 or 4 times and always had good food and satisfactory service; once at the oyster bar, once at the main floor bar, once at a table on the main floor.

                      If enough people are having bad food and service issues, I don't see it lasting. Much as I enjoy sister ship Grotto, it has it's detractors here and service is not their strong suit.

                      Shame, it's a bit of Boston history and I'm sure a pile of $ went into the renovation.

                      1. re: 9lives
                        MC Slim JB May 30, 2009 07:01 AM

                        I've gotten excellent food here on pretty much every visit, though the cafe menu of more casual dishes rings my value bell much louder.

                        But the wine list is one of the most top-heavy I've seen in a town full of top-heavy lists: a ridiculous number of bottles over $120, probably the majority of the list over $80, far too few bottles under $60, only a handful under $40. Clearly, it was compiled to serve the far-more-ambitious original upstairs fine-dining concept, which didn't fly and has been scaled back to a few "After Five" dishes and a table d'hote menu served on both floors. (There's also a hefty roster of high-end booze, like 21-year-old single malts at $30/pour, also presumably assembled for the horribly mistimed luxe upstairs concept.)

                        I'd love to see a more sensible wine list assembled to suit the cafe menu, something along the lines of what Deborah Hansen did at Coda. Silvertone and the Franklin Cafes have shown how attractively this can be done, too. It's annoying to only have a handful of by-the-glass options to go with under-$20 entrees.

                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                2. re: MC Slim JB
                  almansa May 29, 2009 10:16 AM

                  My theory is that valet parking is really hurting the downtown spots. Who wants to pay $20 just for the privilege of spending more on an expensive dinner. South End and suburban neighborhood restaurants are faring better.

                  1. re: almansa
                    BobB Jun 2, 2009 01:31 PM

                    On the other hand, there are plenty of us who take the T and Marliave is just a block or two from Park Street.

                3. re: fmcoxe6188
                  StriperGuy May 29, 2009 06:38 AM

                  Have to disagree, bar hopped a couple of times both in the South End and downtown hitting some of the high end and other places and attendance was LOW everywhere on numerous nights. Places like Silvertone being the one exception.

              2. t
                TheScribe May 29, 2009 05:54 AM

                I have a special place in my heart for Marliave. This does not sound good. I went for lunch on a Friday and same thing. Not a whole lot of patrons. I don't want to see this place close, again.

                my blog: http://thegeminiweb.com

                1. a
                  avial May 29, 2009 06:55 AM

                  They definitely need to upgrade their drink making corps. A friend asked for a sazerac once and the bartender that night almost poured him a shot of the Sazerac-branded rye. Luckily, we were able to stop him before that happened and straighten that out.

                  Another issue that I see happening a lot are the bartenders making classic drinks like the sazerac, shaken instead of stirred. A sazerac with a 1" head of foam is just not pleasant.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: avial
                    Bob Dobalina May 29, 2009 07:10 AM

                    Had the same problem when a weekend bartender had never heard of a Ward Eight. I think Marliave actually sits in Ward 8.

                    1. re: Bob Dobalina
                      MC Slim JB May 29, 2009 07:20 AM

                      Yep, very hit or miss. My gross observation: the girls are skilled, the boys not so much.

                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                      1. re: MC Slim JB
                        t
                        the modern serf May 29, 2009 09:09 PM

                        They should do an exchange program with Deep Ellum.

                        1. re: the modern serf
                          ScubaSteve May 30, 2009 07:57 AM

                          noooooo!
                          i <3 the DE GrrlZ.

                          1. re: the modern serf
                            a
                            avial May 30, 2009 08:15 AM

                            Deep Ellum does seem to have a glut of female bartenders. I have not seen the guy from B-Side at Marliave for a quite some time, maybe not since last year even.

                      2. re: avial
                        hotoynoodle May 29, 2009 08:08 AM

                        was at the new sel de la terre on wednesday. they pre-make their negronis in batches, "because they're so hard to make." bartender also was clueless about the wines by the glass.

                        no rush to head back there, as much as i enjoy the waterfront location.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle
                          MC Slim JB May 29, 2009 08:40 AM

                          Endlessly amazing to me how such a simple drink as the Negroni -- equal parts of three ingredients -- is so endlessly screwed up around here. We're not asking you to make the original Don the Beachcomber Zombie Punch, people! It's child's play!

                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                            hotoynoodle May 29, 2009 09:16 AM

                            and ya know, it's not like they position themselves as a kids' bar and i was asking for something esoteric. i didn't *say* anything, but i knew my face had the look of "are you f****ing kidding me?"

                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                              Bob Dobalina May 29, 2009 09:16 AM

                              For the record...

                              http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/28/din...

                              1. re: MC Slim JB
                                p
                                purple bot May 29, 2009 11:32 AM

                                Equally lame at the Mandarin Oriental bar... bartender had to look it up, then still proceeded to make it wrong. It's like they don't trust that it could possibly be as simple as it is.

                          2. t
                            thegirlwholovestoeat May 29, 2009 07:48 AM

                            I went to Marliave for my first time a couple of weeks ago. The oysters were great, but the room was completely empty on a Friday night at 8:30 There were 8 people at the bar and not one table in the dining room (although I didn't go all the way upstairs). The room looked great, the menu was very reasonable and the bartender was very friendly. I hope they stick around for a while so I can try it out for a real dinner.

                            1. rlove May 29, 2009 07:58 AM

                              This is worrisome, as I really love Marliave.

                              I have to agree on two points: The place is never packed and the cocktails are just okay.

                              I do love the food, though. Some items are better than others, but all of their sandwiches and many of the dinner options are excellent. The Mrs Marliave (a croque madame) is excellent. As is the pulled pork sandwich, which is no longer on the menu. For dinner, the yankee pot roast and monday night gnocchi are both excellent.

                              Bummer. I hope they make it.

                              1. C. Hamster May 29, 2009 08:58 AM

                                My only visit was during RW but the service was unforgivably awful and the food less than impressive.

                                The horrible service in a much less than less than full restaurant suggested to me some serious problems, unfortunately.

                                Sad, as I'd love that space and those folks to make it.

                                1. p
                                  pierce May 29, 2009 10:12 AM

                                  Umm, when do the front doors to the 150-unit luxury condo tower that is 15' from Marliave open? I would imagine they would at least hold out for the new neighbors.....

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: pierce
                                    almansa May 29, 2009 10:17 AM

                                    I think a better question is how many of the condos have sold?

                                    1. re: almansa
                                      9
                                      9lives May 29, 2009 11:31 AM

                                      I don't think they're selling well at all.

                                      OT but maybe of interest...both Chacarero and LaGrassa's have mentioned to me they may add Sat hours if the building opens and has decent occupancy. Make it easier for the non downtowners to try these places.

                                      1. re: 9lives
                                        9
                                        9lives Jun 14, 2009 06:13 AM

                                        http://bostonherald.com/business/real...

                                        This is even worse than I thought.

                                        1. re: 9lives
                                          StriperGuy Jun 14, 2009 07:06 AM

                                          Yeoch. Gotta think a bunch of those places, even with all the restaurants, etc. in the SE are also selling kinda slow.

                                  2. cassoulady May 29, 2009 10:21 AM

                                    I work in the area, and always end up at silvertone for an after work drink over marliave though I am not sure why.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: cassoulady
                                      yumyum May 29, 2009 10:27 AM

                                      Because Slivertone has a lively atmosphere and Marliave feels ghostly?

                                      I love the rarebits at Marliave, and the tiny raw bar is a fun place to spend a few hours, but it feels cold to me and I *never* think of it when I'm in the area.

                                      1. re: yumyum
                                        m
                                        moglia May 29, 2009 11:12 AM

                                        That's funny, I always think the opposite when I'm in the area because Silvertone usually feels a bit too crowded and loud for a decent conversation. Is it fair to say I hope the Marliave catches on a bit, but not *that* much?

                                        1. re: moglia
                                          SmokeDawg May 29, 2009 10:14 PM

                                          A restaurateur's dream - catch on but not too much.

                                        2. re: yumyum
                                          cassoulady May 29, 2009 11:42 AM

                                          I think you may be right yumyum, after work I am often just with drinkers not eaters and silvertone fits the bill.

                                      2. Suze123 May 29, 2009 12:11 PM

                                        I'd really love to see them make the first floor more of a lounge/bar. They should open up the tables for drinks only if people want. One thing that holds me back when I consider going is that if I want to go there with a group larger than 3, I worry that we'll have an issue finding seats all together at either the upstairs or downstairs bar (not to mention that it's awkward to talk to people when sitting at a long bar).

                                        1. StriperGuy May 29, 2009 12:45 PM

                                          I was just told by a friend that they put in a little patisserie downstairs and now have some al fresco seating too.

                                          11 Replies
                                          1. re: StriperGuy
                                            CreativeFoodie42 Jun 4, 2009 02:00 PM

                                            Yes, I just heard from the horse's mouth, Scott Herritt, that their outdoor seating opened yesterday, along with their patisserie, which will turn into their oyster bar after 5 PM.

                                            1. re: CreativeFoodie42
                                              fmcoxe6188 Jun 4, 2009 02:11 PM

                                              I can confirm- was there last night. Out door seating was cute-though will be right next door to the out door seating for whatever new restaurant goes into the condo complex.

                                              Oyster bar was open in the bottom level.

                                              1. re: fmcoxe6188
                                                rlove Jun 4, 2009 02:13 PM

                                                Thanks for the report, fmcoxe6188. Definitely will check that out.

                                                I guess the paving I saw them doing of the street was for the outdoors section. I bet its nice.

                                                Still amazed, though, at the number of variations and rooms in a single joint: downstairs, upstairs, two bars, raw bar, and now a patisserie and an outdoors area.

                                                1. re: rlove
                                                  fmcoxe6188 Jun 4, 2009 02:17 PM

                                                  They do have a lot going on there. I sat downstairs last night- in the Patisserie because the bar was crowded, and the upstairs was closed for a private party. The poor bartender downstairs didnt have a bar downstairs, so had to keep running upstairs to get us drinks. But the full menu and bar is available down in the patisserie after 5. Strange set up though.

                                                  I will say- our bartender was extremely nice, and well informed. I neglected to get his name. And it was good to see Scott Herritt fully involved- he delivered both of our appetizer items and I saw him playing host as well.

                                                  1. re: rlove
                                                    t
                                                    twentyoystahs Jun 4, 2009 07:11 PM

                                                    Actually, I walked by there today --the outdoor patio section isn't on the street, but on the upper level where you walk into the main entrance. Looked nice, esp since it wasn't right on street level.

                                                    1. re: twentyoystahs
                                                      9
                                                      9lives Jun 4, 2009 09:18 PM

                                                      I walked by tonight too and I thought the outdoor seating looked very nice...screened off with some plants.

                                                      Btw, anyone remember "Hank's ye old Province Pub??" Looks like they are getting a facelift.

                                                    2. re: rlove
                                                      p
                                                      pollystyrene Jun 4, 2009 08:26 PM

                                                      Plus, the upstairs contains two rooms. So that's four rooms (plus a patio), which house two bars, a raw bar, and a patisserie, on three floors. That is a lot going on.

                                                      I like the upstairs rooms a lot. I think they're warm and charming--not cold at all. The tables are well-spaced, which might make it feel less cozy than Grotto, but eating elbow to elbow isn't the kind of cozy I like. The food I had on my one visit was very good, but I'd love to see the cocktails taken up a notch or two. I'd be happy if they brought the bellini over from Grotto for starters.

                                                      1. re: pollystyrene
                                                        t
                                                        twentyoystahs Jun 5, 2009 05:21 AM

                                                        Maybe I need to check out the "up" upstairs room. I thought the mid-level one (above the bottom bar but below the top dining room) was sort of cold but that may have b/c there was hardly anyone else in there on a sat night and our voices were echoing off the walls ;)

                                                    3. re: fmcoxe6188
                                                      Bob Dobalina Jun 5, 2009 04:29 AM

                                                      That alley is going to be hopping once the companion restaurant goes in! Wow.

                                                      1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                                        fmcoxe6188 Jun 5, 2009 06:42 AM

                                                        Yeah it is!! Does anyone know what the new restaurant will be? The condos look gorgeous....

                                                    4. re: CreativeFoodie42
                                                      StriperGuy Jun 4, 2009 02:11 PM

                                                      Cool!

                                                  2. MC Slim JB May 29, 2009 08:35 PM

                                                    I just heard that they're doing $1 oysters on weekends; wish I'd known that before I went out tonight.

                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                      a
                                                      avial May 30, 2009 08:12 AM

                                                      It runs Tuesday - Saturday from 10pm to 12:30pm or close depending on the night I think.

                                                    2. t
                                                      the modern serf May 29, 2009 09:11 PM

                                                      I've been there a couple of times - i've always enjoyed my dinner but the cocktails have been kind of underwhelming. The thing that really gets me, though, is their location -- the geographic center of downtown boston, but their front door is next to a grease Dumpster.

                                                      1. m
                                                        mwk May 31, 2009 01:29 PM

                                                        So I was in that area on Friday night, around 7pm and decided to give it a try. The downstairs cafe area was about half full with diners, but the bar was full. Service was very friendly and knowledgeable. I didn't take a look upstairs to see what was doing, so I don't know how crowded that was.

                                                        I can tell you that we had an excellent meal and we were very happy with the quality of the food and the price/value ratio.

                                                        My husband had the Foie Gras appetizer and I had the mussels appetizer, and we both had the Gnocchi with Sunday Gravy for an entree. The mussels were a nice portion, maybe 15 large plump ones, in a delicious garlicky tomato and wine broth. The Foie Gras was delicious. Two nice rounds of very succulent, melt-in-your-mouth rich goodness.

                                                        The Gnocchi were outstanding. They were big and light and very tasty. Served in a lovely "gravy" with big chunks of lamb and beef which were stewed in tomato/wine sauce. It was a large portion, too, but not obscenely washtub-large. However, we were certainly too full for any dessert.

                                                        The bill for the two of us, with one beer, came to $55.00. I thought that was quite reasonable. Overall, we will definitely come back, as it's nice to have a good place to eat in that area, which needs dining choices desperately.

                                                        10 Replies
                                                        1. re: mwk
                                                          StriperGuy May 31, 2009 02:41 PM

                                                          I think/hope that if Marliave just turns itself int Grotto+ they might just make it.

                                                          Grotto is not alta cucina italiana, thought sometimes it does achieve those heights, but I am just mad for it's homey charm. If they can just warm up Marliave, upstairs and down a tad and keep 'em coming, they might just make it.

                                                          1. re: StriperGuy
                                                            SmokeDawg May 31, 2009 02:57 PM

                                                            I don't get it. I've eaten in both Grotto and the Marliave and thought both were barely mediocre.

                                                            1. re: StriperGuy
                                                              BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jun 1, 2009 09:20 AM

                                                              I don't understand what's insufficiently warm and cozy about Marliave. The bar is a gorgeous room that always feels really comfortable to me.

                                                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                StriperGuy Jun 1, 2009 09:27 AM

                                                                I find the white room of the bar area a bit stark. Particularly when it is only 30% full. Honestly feels a bit institutional to me. Grotto on the other hand is so warm and cozy. I walk down those stairs and just go aaaah.

                                                                1. re: StriperGuy
                                                                  C. Hamster Jun 3, 2009 08:34 AM

                                                                  I agree. The whiteness of the room makes it feel like a bathroom, sorta.

                                                                  No way it's cozy, IMO.

                                                                  Grotto is "cozy" in a overcrowded basement kinda way.

                                                                  1. re: C. Hamster
                                                                    StriperGuy Jun 3, 2009 08:41 AM

                                                                    Too funny, cause I almost said "bathroom like" but edited my post after the fact to be kind.

                                                                    1. re: C. Hamster
                                                                      t
                                                                      twentyoystahs Jun 3, 2009 09:50 AM

                                                                      TOTALLY agree w. Striper and Hamster --Grotto and Marliave are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the cozy factor. i.e Grotto --cozy and comfortable; Marliave --cold and institutional....
                                                                      Thought the food was ok at Marliave --the rarebits really really good....but again, not running back anytime soon.

                                                                      1. re: twentyoystahs
                                                                        a
                                                                        avial Jun 3, 2009 01:23 PM

                                                                        I wonder if the issue is perhaps also the lack of proper lighting in the corners of the place where it tends to get very dark. Perhaps software, more yellow lighting would make the place less stark.

                                                                  2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                    BobB Jun 2, 2009 01:35 PM

                                                                    I agree, I find Marliave very comfortable while Grotto has a funky, "hey look, I painted the basement ceiling red" kind of feel. Fun, but less inviting to my taste than Marliave.

                                                                    1. re: BobB
                                                                      p
                                                                      pemma Jun 3, 2009 08:49 AM

                                                                      I stopped into Marliave for a drink and the "cheese toast" appetizer this winter. Both were good, but I am one of those people who have real warm and fuzzy feelings about the old Marliave with the booths and patina, the out-of-the way location, and cold snowy Christmas-time lunches. It was never just about the food. I just can't get over the changes and the starkness. Saving the tin ceilings just didn't do it. I was looking for some remnant of the past and have no burning desire to go back, although I wouldn't avoid it either.

                                                              2. l
                                                                lantheaume May 31, 2009 05:51 PM

                                                                A few comments.

                                                                I've really liked Marliave in the past, so much so we hosted a major event there. The staff, food and drinks were excellent and every guest had a wonderful time. Really. It was totally great.

                                                                That being said there's a few things that just don't work for me there:

                                                                1. To my knowledge most, if not all, of the bartenders that had the skills have moved on to other restaurants/bars that are busier so they could make some money. The lack of patrons does not equal decent pay for tip earning folks.

                                                                2. Scott, although a nice guy, has some control freak in him and was a little tough to work with when planning our events menu. The staff was great and did a lot of things to incorporate what we wanted for the night even if Scott wasn't open to it originally.

                                                                3. Two brings me to three - the music selection. Holy cow, does it suck. It's the same iPod with oldies tunes over and over and over again. And they aren't great, lost and found oldies from obscure but excellent artists - this is crappy top 40 oldies. On a short loop. I don't need to hear "Run Around Sue" 3 times in one visit. Has anyone else noticed that? I know the staff has and their hands are tied.

                                                                I REALLY wish Marliave well and want them to succeed. The space is great, the food is good (or has been whenever I've eaten there) and I think it'd be good to have another bar where a decent cocktail can be mixed (assuming they regain talent in that department).

                                                                But like others on this thread - 8 customers a night is not going to get them there.

                                                                Here's hopin'!

                                                                P.S. The alley is an obstacle, but not the end of the world. Freemens in NYC is down a alley but there's usually a wait out the door for it anytime I've been there. If Marliave had a following the alley could be a draw.

                                                                1. beetlebug Jun 2, 2009 01:47 PM

                                                                  I really like both Marliave and Grotto. The problem I have with both is that the chef just isn't friendly. Not unfriendly or unpleasant, but he doesn't even say hi or greet customers. I've been to Marliave a number of times and I always see him. In the earlier days at Grotto and Marliave, I've talked with him about the pork products/bacon and how delicious they are. But, if I don't take the initiative, he literally, will sit there like and never acknowledge that I've been there or chatted with him in the past. I'm only looking for a hello, or how's your food. I've brought large parties, small parties, sat upstairs, downstairs, the whole bit. The wait staff has always been lovely, but the chef/owner, not so much.

                                                                  It's a little thing and like I said, he's not unpleasant, just not welcoming.

                                                                  1. g
                                                                    gyppielou Jun 3, 2009 01:52 PM

                                                                    I love the place. Have only gone to the bar a couple of times. Had some amazing food and some ok food.

                                                                    I HATE the glassware. A simple martini should be presented in a properly chilled martini glass - not a breast shaped vessel. Who would think a simple martini would be so hard to find in a place that wanted to be known for drinks as well as food.

                                                                    1. CreativeFoodie42 Jun 8, 2009 07:12 AM

                                                                      I went to Marliave last week for lunch. The service was a bit slow but the place actually had a decent lunchtime crowd. I had the Mr. Marliave (croque monsieur), which was very tasty and very generous in serving. Like others, saw Chef Scott Herriitt there who actually ended up serving us. I left around 2 PM and the patio and bar were full downstairs, with a decent amount of diners at the tables. I know the lunch crowd is different from the dinner time but hopefully this place will really make it!

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: CreativeFoodie42
                                                                        Joanie Jun 8, 2009 07:20 AM

                                                                        So is he never at Grotto anymore?

                                                                      2. hotoynoodle Jun 8, 2009 06:18 PM

                                                                        i went today for the 1st time because of this thread. late afternoon.

                                                                        the downstairs bar certainly lacks warmth and there was no music. the food network was on tv. really? i frigging hate bobby flay.

                                                                        one other person at the bar and one couple in the room.

                                                                        bartender was chatting up her other guest, but was slow in even acknowledging me. i ordered an ice water and a negroni and went to the bathroom. waited. came back. still no water and no drink. finally water.

                                                                        watched her make the drink. wrong. she assumed on the rocks. really? and i watched her pull dry vermouth out of the cooler. when she gave it to me, i asked for straight up and the proper sweet vermouth. "oh! good catch!" it was a very poorly made cocktail.

                                                                        a quick look at the menu, which is standard for about 85% of places at that price point, and that clueless barkeep aren't making me rush back.

                                                                        my negroni conundrum continues.

                                                                        1. sailormouth Jun 8, 2009 07:49 PM

                                                                          Marliave has one of my favorite burgers in town. If the bartending went up a few rungs I'd be there more often. I've had some very poorly made drinks, and the glasses are ginormous, my poorly made martini ended up being a warm glass of gin. I still drank it, of course, but would have enjoyed a smaller, better made one. I almost always order beer there now.

                                                                          I actually rather like the space as well.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: sailormouth
                                                                            a
                                                                            avial Jun 8, 2009 09:01 PM

                                                                            Speaking of the burger, I went to get one from Marliave after getting out of work around 6:30pm or so today. Asked for it medium rare and it came out with a sear on the outside 1/8" maybe and it was it was just raw ground beef on the inside. The accompanying side salad was fine. My coworker that came along asked for a medium and got the same doneness that I did - wonder if the bartender entered the ticket in wrong or something.

                                                                            1. re: avial
                                                                              t
                                                                              twentyoystahs Jun 9, 2009 08:59 AM

                                                                              I think I said that in a previous post, but I wasn't impressed with my burger there. It was alright, but really nothing special --there are a lot of other burgers in town I like better. Plus, though I'm not all that bothered by a brioche bun, here it really bugged me 'cause I didn't think the burger was all that great either. So, sorta added to the mediocre experience....

                                                                            2. re: sailormouth
                                                                              hotoynoodle Jun 9, 2009 06:11 AM

                                                                              i actually like the glasses -- but mine was less than half full. or more than half-empty, depending on your optimism level. :)

                                                                            3. n
                                                                              nightsky Jun 13, 2009 03:04 PM

                                                                              Had lunch there today. Outdoor space is a nice oasis, but the shade/breeze can make it a little chilly for some, even on a warm sunny day. Menu seemed ok, though our server didn't tell us they served brunch until after we ordered and i noticed brunch-like food served to others. I asked, and they have brunch until 5.

                                                                              Warning for others who order it: the salad nicoise is ridiculously meager. For $14 i thought it would be a decent lunch size. It's basically an appetizer, and the waitstaff should tell people that. I think it had half a boiled egg, 3 bits of potato that were carved out with a melon baller (they were the size of chickpeas) on a pile of maybe 8-10 leaves of arugula and a few slabs of tuna. It was kind of hilarious. Two of us got that, and left hungry. They could easily make this dish seem more substantial by beefing up the filler ingredients. Third got portabella sandwich, which looked like a better deal.

                                                                              Anyone know whey they ripped out all those old booths, which were much more in keeping with the original speakeasy theme? I was also expecting more interesting music than classic rock hits. I guess i'd go back because I want them to do well, and i think that if they change a few things the place could be much better.

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