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Marche L.A. ...........A true disappointment!!

Went to dinner at Marche. While the S.O. and I were not exactly regulars at Max, we did have several fine dining experiences there. Last night however, we dined with friends who - well - let's just say they were fixtures at Max. Because of our dining companions, our table received more than average attention from the staff. There is really zero negative to say about the service we received.

Sadly, the food was another story. First of all, they present the menu on a ridiculous wooden board with a rubber band holding together loose pages of menu and wine list. It's awkward and silly.

Secondly, the portions are all "bite size". You are intended to order several items just to make a regular size dinner portion. I started with the tepenade which, aside from being extremely and unusually salty, was so small that they should just offer it complimentary with bread, not actually charge and serve it as an appetizer. The S.O. had an arugula salad which is best described as 'barely edible' but yet, was the most generous portion of the night.

We next had gnocchi. That was laughable. There were 4, maybe 5, tiny, tiny dumplings in a bland sauce. Awful. We also had the halibut - which actually was not bad - not great - but not bad. We had the potatoes which were -- well potatoes. The coup de grace, however, was the pork belly. It literally makes me nauseaus to think back on it. Bad. Bad I tell you.

By the end of the meal everyone was so disappointed and disgusted that we all politely refused coffee and dessert and just ran out.

All in all it was quite the disappointment......and we couldn't help but feel that the entire time someone somewhere was having a good laugh at everyone in the restaurant carrying on with such a ridiculous charade!

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  1. I had dinner at Marche on Saturday and it was delicious. I found the portion sizes spot on. We had the coddled egg with an extremely generous portion of summer truffles, Delicious. The foie gras terrine was rich and delicious and more than we could finish.
    Next we had the light and airy gnocchi and a delicious arugula salad - bright and fresh.
    Finally we had the halibut which my mom declared the best she'd ever eaten (superior to the fish at acclaimed SF restaurant Boulevard where she'd had halibut the week before) and I had the pork belly which I finished - every lip smacking bite. Sorry you missed dessert - the talented pastry chef produced a delicous, bitter chocolate mousse - dense and not sweet just the way I like it, and a classic apple tart.

    No one in the restaurant seemed to feel it was a charade - in fact had a lovely conversation with the couple next to us who were equally thrilled with their meal.

    I hope anyone who reads this will give Marche a try and not dismiss it based on the previous post. I will be there again soon.

    1. I would have to agree with CHOW BELLA, had a dinner there with a group of 10, 2 months ago. Service was good, but the food was not. The only memorable item was the mussels, which was an appetizer. I would much prefer charlie palmer, though the past two times I have been there the food was not superb either.

      4 Replies
      1. re: broncophil

        2 months ago it was still Max. It's only been Marche for less than 2 weeks.

        1. re: Bob Brooks

          See my post below, Bob (that bronc is confusing Marche with Marche Moderne).

        2. re: broncophil

          I think this might well be a mix up between Marche Moderne (which is indeed near Charlie Palmer in the South Coast Plaza) and Marche (formerly Max) in Sherman Oaks (and which is the restaurant under discussion in this thread)?

          1. re: Servorg

            Yes, please clarify where you had this bland dinner.

            Sound like Sherman Oaks, not Costa Mesa. But nonetheless, please clarify.

        3. OP states: "..Secondly, the portions are all "bite size". You are intended to order several items just to make a regular size dinner portion." Isn't that a fairly standard definition of the 'small plates' concept in dining? If so, nothing terribly unusual or scandalous in that... And as for the tapenade being salty, isn't that the point of a tapenade (with salty ingredients such as olives, employed to perk up bland 'edible delivery devices' such as bread and white fish, for example)? And let me guess: your arugula salad was bitter and too peppery? ;-) Not quite sure what made you nauseous about the pork belly, based on the vague and brief dismissal above. " Waiter, there's fat on this pork belly!" Sorry, could resist, but your complaints are rather vague...

          5 Replies
          1. re: silence9

            because the last meal i had at Max was so bad, i have no interest in trying marche.
            Chow Bella's complaints about the marche food quality are completely in line with my experience with max's poor food quality.
            chow bella's complaints sound perfectly clear to me..
            nothing vague about the complaints.

            at least with the new small portions, after dining, you might have room to east something good at some other place. . . .

            1. re: westsidegal

              OP states: "The coup de grace, however, was the pork belly. It literally makes me nauseaus to think back on it. Bad. Bad I tell you." Yes. that's vague, as complaints go. OP also states: "The S.O. had an arugula salad which is best described as 'barely edible' ...". Really, that's the "best description" available in a review that rips on a new place? Only stating that the pork belly was "bad" and the salad was "barely edible" told me very little, that's all I'm saying... To quote Steve Martin when his date Bernadette Peters becomes horrified after ordering escargot: "Waiter, there are _snails_ on her plate! Remove them immediately!"

              1. re: silence9

                i guess when something is vile, i don't need a lot of detail.
                my reviews tend to be similar--if something is truly disgusting, imho there is no need to dissect the many ways it fails.

            2. re: silence9

              With all due respect to everyone's personal SUBJECTIVE opinions, I am not a moron. Perhaps I was not at eloquent in my writing as I could have been, that may have resulted in some confusion. Let me clarify........I know what GOOD tepanade tastes like and am familiar with the ingredients. The tepenade at Marche was EXTREMELY salty. (This, by the way, coming from someone who would trade a cookie or anything sweet for a bag of chips or anything salty!). As to the peppery nature of the argula, I get the scarcasm. However, we would much have rather had PLAIN argula in all it's peppery glory than the way it was dressed. The dressing was the problem, not the arugula,

              1. re: Chow Bella

                OPstates: "... we would much have rather had PLAIN argula in all it's peppery glory than the way it was dressed. The dressing was the problem, not the arugula". How would a reader have come to that conclusion from your original review? Yes, everyone has their opinion. Was merely seeking a bit more from the original negative review. Thanks for clarifying...

            3. I disagree with the OP. But, as the OP indicated, taste is subjective, so I'm not necessarily saying the OP's experience was anything other than they described, but just adding another perspective.

              I was there Wednesday and was thrilled with marche. The prices are in line with the size of the plates, quality of the ingredients, and presentation. The foie gras was phenominal. It was like silk. I can still taste the summer truffle risotto it was that good. The skirt steak (rolled into a cylinder, cooked sous vide, then lightly seared) was a flavorful and textural delight. I also had the pork belly, and was quite happy with it. And yes, the potatoes are just potatoes, but they are very tasty potatoes if you appreciate the simplicity of a perfect potato perfectly cooked.

              We had a party of 3, and the total bill came to about $240 (including $36 in corkage/$18/bottle). We were filled, and the food was tremendous. Not cheap, but worth it considering the quality.

              1. Question to the OP. Maybe I'm missing out. What restaurants with similar concepts as marche have you tried and enjoyed?

                1. Anyone know why they changed the name? Seems an odd idea in the present climate.

                  We've been a few times (when it was Max). It was satisfactory, no more. Is it different now, and if so, how?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: carter

                    Are the offerings more appealing and tasty now?

                    It was a lovely ambience, but I was never "wowed" by their food.

                    What would you say is their forte?

                  2. I agree that this place was disappointing. The service was great, but based on the food I wouldn't go back.

                    I only had two apps: the potted chicken, which was delicious and the gnocchi which had a commercial taste, liked canned tomato soup. I also had two of the larger plates: the chicken breast which was ok (wonderfully moist, but the flavor seemed lacking and uninteresting) and the skirt steak which had no flavor and more importantly was so incredibly tough and chewy that I literally could not eat it (I heard the table next to me complaining to the chef about the same problem)...it was especially odd, because the steak is described as a "filet mignon" skirt steak on the menu. We debated ordering more food since my date and I were still hungry at this point, but it seemed like we would just be disappointed so we went elsewhere.

                    All in all it wasn't awful, but the food was uninteresting and I expect a lot more for what ends up being a higher priced restaurant.

                    1. For the people who have tried marche L.A., and have been disappointed, can you please recommend some restaurants that have a similar concept, but you feel executes this concept much better. As I stated above, I loved marche, but obviously some people feel there are much better representations of this type of restaurant. I'm not asking this to be argumentative. I really want to try great restaurants that I may be missing out on.

                      There's been too much drama in this thread, so I really hope we can just get back to talking about food instead of motives (give the mods a break, lol). I think we all just love food....right?

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: spoggly

                        Have you tried Gjelina yet? You might find it to your tastes.


                        1. re: Servorg

                          Never even heard of it. That menu sounds delicious. Thanks for that rec.

                          Keep 'em coming.......This is what CH should be all about....

                          1. re: spoggly

                            We have liked the food and drinks (and the prices) at the Westside Tavern in the mall at Pico and Westwood Blvd. (in the part of the mall that is on the west side of Pico by the Barnes & Noble store and the theaters).


                          2. re: Servorg

                            Wow Servorg! Thank you for this. I had no clue! The menu looks great......will definitely plan a pilgrimage.

                          3. re: spoggly

                            If you describe the concept as small plates meant for sharing with market driven cuisine, then I think that AOC and Palate are both excellent examples of restaurants that do it right for a similar price point as Marche. I'm also a big fan of Tasca.