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Nov 4, 2013 11:50 AM

Lackluster lunch @ Marea

First of all, sorry to write complaints two times in a row. I am not the kind of person who nags about the food all the time. When I dine out, I try to enjoy it myself, act gently, give my servers nice smile, and ignore minor mistakes.

That said, I had lunch at Marea today.

Since it hardly changes the menu, it was my first visit after 3 to 4 months.

Assortment of three crudos was great as usual.

Tagliatelle with white truffles.... Well, I now Marea is one of the places for expense accounts and I fully understand they charge really a lot. But still, they charge $149 per portion (or a supplement of $129 for prix fixe) and they were so~~~ skimpy with the white truffles! (first photo)

Especially compared to tagliatelle I had at The NoMad a couple weeks ago for $120, which practically covered the plate!! (second photo)

And tagliatelle itself was too greasy with too much olive oil that oil was dripping when I was eating it.... (third photo)

I used to like Marea when it just opened.

Well... I have just crossed out another restaurant from my regular go to list. Sad....

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  1. With all due respect, I think you're crossing off restaurants for the wrong reasons (desserts at Per Se, tagliatelle with white truffles at Marea).

    The desserts at Per Se are now as streamlined as Le Bernardin and that's not a bad thing, especially after a long, complex, multicourse meal. I think Marea's seafood specialties are still very good. I wouldn't think of ordering white truffles at a seafood restaurant, but that's just me.

    7 Replies
    1. re: H Manning

      The pastry chef at Le Bernardin used to work at Per Se, and I think now LB's desserts are far better than Per Se's.

      Marea is famous for seafood dishes, but its pasta used to be great as well. Nothing like the greasy tagliatelle I had today...

      1. re: kosmose7

        Oh I didn't know the pastry chef at Le Bernardin used to work at Per Se. Was there a recent change? That would explain why I thought the desserts were surprisingly good and way better at my last visit (aug) than my previous visit (march)

        Marea was one of my favorite restaurants when it first opened, but I haven't been back in a couple of years. I feel that most of the restaurants in the Altamarea group keep finding a way to underperform their potential. I'm going to revisit Costata this week and form a full view there, but I think White has enough stuff open that he should be less worried about new concepts and more worried about maintaining and enhancing the concepts he already has open.

        1. re: fooder

          Le Bernardin's pastry chef Laurie Jon Moran used to be pastry sous chef at Per Se. He joined LB in early 2012 and since then IMHO, LB's desserts noticeably improved.

          Regarding your comment on chef White's maintaining and enhancing the concepts of his existing restaurants, I couldn't agree more! BTW, I loved Costata. Much more enjoyed there than I did at Marea today. :)

          1. re: kosmose7

            I enjoyed Costata on my first visit. While I enjoyed the food, I found FOH to be lacking, and hope they've improved when I revisit this week before forming a full opinion. Another example of a Michael White restaurant not living up to potential.

            I found the desserts at my last LB visit to be significantly better, with greater play in textures. Perhaps the pastry chef is starting to expand repertoire.

      2. re: H Manning

        Uh yeah, ok. That plate of tagliatelle is a joke for $149. What do you think of a restaurant that can't make a bowl of noodles with butter? Speaking from my experience as well, OP is right. Marea ain't what it used to be. Per Se's hit to miss ratio is a problem at their price point, too.

        1. re: H Manning

          "Streamlining" the desserts at Per Se may not be a bad thing after a multi-course dinner (taking your word for that; I can't swing a full dinner at Per Se, so I've never experienced it), but it IS disappointing when you are there only for the desserts, such as when you do the dessert tasting in the Salon. That was my birthday splurge last year and it really underperformed. Nothing was particularly inventive or WOW-want-to-lick-the-plate-bring-me-another delicious; I have no plans to go back.

          1. re: charmedgirl

            FYI, it depends on people too. I have a big stomach and I always enjoy desserts after a full meal... Even after Per Se's extended menu savory dishes, I am ready for good desserts ha ha!

            As for the Per Se Salon, I couldn't agree with you more. For the same reason, I stopped going back to the Salon. This is unfortunate because I still remember how fabulous their desserts used to be.....

        2. Sorry to hear about your poor experience with the tagliatelle. I went to Marea last Friday for dinner and had a good time (didn't order the white truffles but instead the regular 4 courser). Though I would probably agree that some dishes at Marea are absolutely delightful (Ricci, astice, octopus fusili, uni and crab pasta) while some can be a bit forgettable.

          1. Always liked Marea, but didn't understand it being a chowhound darling. It's rather expensive for what you get. The uni pasta barely had a soup├žon of uni but was priced 3 times as much as a truly delicious uni and scallop dish I had at L'ecole, that gave me a slab of uni. Everything is ok, some things great, but nothing really makes me say "wow, I really feel $30 was well spent on the flour and water that went into making a small dish of pasta with bits of stewed beef and tomato".

            1. Did you have the 4 or 8 grams of white truffles at The NoMad? I'm dining at The NoMad next week, and I want to get what you had. Looks wonderful.

              BTW, I had a terrific white truffle risotto at Per Se in the Salon last week. Very generous shaving of white truffles.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ellenost

                That was 4 + 8 grams = 12 grams total ha ha.

                Yes, I have no complaints about Per Se's savory dishes. I am a bit tired of the same ole oysters and pears or foie gras or truffle-infused egg custard because I had them too many times but that's my problem I guess. It's their boring desserts I have a problem with, especially when I remember their desserts used to be one of the best in New York up until not long ago....

              2. You ordered poorly, they pulled one over on you

                1 Reply
                1. re: AubWah

                  A restaurant serving greasy tagliatelle is justified by stating that it's the cutomer's fault who ordered poorly?