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Feb 8, 2010 07:26 PM

Marche Moderne: Best French in OC? Oui? :-)

My goodness, a fabulously delicious French Bistro in Orange County? In South Coast Plaza? Are you kidding me?

That would have been my response before Marche Moderne opened. And since I'm back in OC this week to visit the family, I figured I should finally give this place a try while I'm in town. And oh yes, thank goodness I did!

The bread and butter were a good sign of what was to come. The butter was nice and sweet, and the bread was soft and fresh.

And from here, on to the cheese course. Great European cheeses. Fresh fruit compotes. Perfectly baked baguette. What's not to love?

And then, I discovered the Alsatian Tarte Flambee. The caramelized onions added just the right amount of sweetness to perfectly complement the tang and tart of the creme fraiche and the cave aged Gruyere.

Oh, and how can I forget dessert? The lemon and blackberry souffle with ice cream wasn't exactly traditional, but my oh my was it delicious! I just couldn't stop eating it, as the fruity flavors kept me wanting to dig deeper into it.

So what's not to love about this place? The service was superb and very friendly. The food was bar none the best bistro fare I've discovered in Orange County. And for a chi-chi bistro in such a high-end mall, the lunch specials are surprisingly affordable. RUN, don't walk, to this place and give it a taste!

Btw, I have pics at my Photobucket if you'd like a sneak preview of what's for lunch or dinner:



Marche Moderne
3333 Bristol Street, Suite 3001, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

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  1. Oui, oui! I share your enthusiasm. Chef Florent Marchand and his lovely wife Amelia do an impeccable job in pleasing their patrons.

    3 Replies
    1. re: degustateur

      Well, they sure haven't pleased us with their service. We used to go there all the time, but too many service issues has left a sour taste in our mouth. Their pre fix lunch used to be pretty good, but that too was kind of OK the past couple of times, compare to what it used to be. I think because thy don't have much competiton in the area they can get away with service issues. In NYC and San fran they couldn't get away with it.

      1. re: degustateur

        Oh yes, Florent and Amelia Marneau are my new heroes! IMHO they've brought to South Coast Plaza what Pascal Olhats has done for Newport. It's great to see more quality French dining options in OC. I'm now excited about coming back to visit the family and eat at these places! :-)

        1. re: degustateur


          The last name of Marche Moderne’s owner/chef is Marneau, not Marchand.

          To Florent and Amelia Marneau, my sincerest apologies.

        2. What's not to love? Service. I've found it to be more miss than hit (with a couple servers that belong in a Denny's than a "chi-chi bistro"). Also, better escargot and mussels can be had elsewhere. I was, however, mostly tepid to lukewarm about MM until I had their Alsatian pig head-to-toe last November; that was one of the best meals I had all year. Otherwise, there's room for improvement.

          7 Replies
          1. re: OCAnn

            My wife and I pretty much have a rotation of three go to spots: Marche Moderne, Old Vine and Koi. I am sure that everyone's experiences are different, but we have not had any service issues and have always found the staff to be very attentive. The only "misses" I can think of are the truffle cappucino that accompanies one entree and a tuna carpaccio that was doused in Mayo (the latter on a night that Florent was not there). The major construtive criticism I have is that I'd like to see an improved wine list. But, for us, this has been a reliable and often spectacular destination.

            That being said, I'd love to hear your recommendations for another French restaurant in the OC

            1. re: lawdog262

              I'm a glutton for punishment b/c I keep going back to MM to see why everyone loves them so much. That last experience was great, but one out of half dozen visits isn't a good batting record.

              What other recommendations do I have for French? Nada. I haven't yet been to Pascal's; we go to La Vie en Rose (Brea on Imperial Hwy/56) a couple times a year (due to proximity), but they're "french country" and the food is okay and expensive for what it is. They have great service, with staff that have been there forever (and look it).

              I think mrsjoujou has a better feel for French in OC. For mussels, we go to Brussels Bistro (not quite French); they have the plumpest & tastiest ones around.

              EDIT: When I do recommend MM, it is always with a caveat. The Cellar bills itself as a French restaurant, but I don't think they are.

              1. re: lawdog262

                hello lawdog,

                I recommend that you add the following to your rotation:

                Tradition by Pascal
                1000 N Bristol St
                Newport Beach, CA 92660
                (949) 263-9400

                Before the arrival of MM, Pascal (Tradition) was the unequivocal pinnacle of fine French dining in OC. Please let us know what you think.

                1. re: degustateur

                  Thanks for the reminder, degustateur! Pascal Olhats is another OC culinary hero, and Tradition still serves up the fabulous stuff! I'll have to visit again soon, plus I want to try his new(ish) brasserie at Fashion Island to see how he's fixed up the old French 75 space. :-)

                  1. re: degustateur

                    I've been to Pascal countless times over the past twenty some years, and keep telling myself that I should go back. MM howeever just keeps getting better and the ambience of a cabana on MM's patio is a heck of a lot nicer than sitting next to a portrait of Pascal. And nothing I have ever had as Pascal touches the Morel Mushroom risotto from Sat. night...

                    1. re: lawdog262

                      Hey we were there the same night! I'm still reeling from how good that morel risotto was...

                2. re: OCAnn

                  Really? I guess I'll have to do a follow-up visit when I'm back in town to check up on them. When I was there yesterday, the service was impeccable. Actually, the service here yesterday was probably better than the last time I was at Mon Ami Gabi in Vegas.

                  Still, I'll have to check them again soon to make sure the service is consistent.

                3. marche moderne and old vine cafe are the two restaurants we put on rotation for 'fancy' food. that said, we are in love. is there better french food behind the orange curtain? i don't know, but i'm not ready to find out.
                  i've never had really bad service there, although it can be slow at times.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: nomnomnoms

                    Yeah, Marche Moderne was busy on Monday when I went for lunch. I didn't see many empty tables, but the service still wasn't too slow that day.

                    And btw, I haven't yet found better French food here in OC but degustateur is correct in noting Pascal Olhats' restaurants in the same league. If you want excellent French food near John Wayne, Tradition by Pascal is most definitely the way to go! I just can't wait to get a chance to try Brasserie Pascal at Fashion Island soon and see how it compares to Marche Moderne.

                  2. Had lunch there, was good but not as good as I imagined based on the reviews. I'll give it another try.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Funwithfood

                      Marche Moderne rocks. Sometimes the service is a little slow, but that's rare, and HELLO, anyone been to France lately? You are not meant to scarf down your food in 5 seconds. Comparing it to La Vie en Rose is just sad....

                      Marche Moderne
                      3333 Bristol St 3001, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

                      La Vie
                      2547 San Gabriel Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770

                      1. re: ausfrench

                        I didn't find the service to be slow...??

                    2. Just got back from a PHENOMENAL dinner at Marché Moderne with Mrs. J.L. Chef Florent and Chef Amelia were both in-house, and the joint was jumpin'.

                      The meal was superb on so many levels. Write-up possibly to follow within the next few days... No service issues whatsoever.

                      Marché Moderne
                      3333 Bristol Street, #3001, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: J.L.

                        Hi J.L.

                        Nice! I can't wait to hear your thoughts. :) I may have to go back to Marche Moderne soon. Did you get to try Chef Amelia's Beignets? *So* good! :)

                        1. re: exilekiss

                          Hi exile,

                          Without doubt, those warm, fresh beignets were definitely one of the highlights. I'll write up the whole report after a second visit...

                          Sure you don't wanna reconsider my (offline) dining offer?