|Sage & Brown Butter Gnocchi with Brussels Sprouts|
What? Marben for dinner
Where? 488 Wellington St w (510 streetcar from Spadina station)
Price? $25-$40 (mains $14-$18)
The skinny: “Farmhouse revival.” Marben is a restaurant that turns out great food that appeals to anyone’s taste buds. It was revamped about a year ago through a collaboration of local artists, designers, architects and new chefs (Carl Heinrich and butcher Ryan Donovan). A cool feature of the menu is that every dish is named after someone, like “John’s burger”.
In the summer, this place has got a pretty sweet patio. I’m liking the whole farmhouse feel. I’ve been wanting to come for about a year now. Seems like the perfect time has come, one of my friends convocated on Monday and another got a job. It was also my birthday the other day so another excuse for the five of us to meet up! :D
They’ve used reclaimed wood in the décor. Most of the artwork was created by a local artist, Dessa Harhay (the in-house graphic designer and creative consultant). She was also our server that night and she was awesome! (Thanks!)
More very cool touches around the restaurant. Like the mason jars also serving as light fixtures! I know…taking photos of people is horrible, I’m sorry! But the guy on the far left sort of reminded me of Michael Bublé. haha :D
The menu is a sharing menu that changes regularly, with some constants. It's divided into sharing plates, meats & fish, sides, and desserts. We were given bread and dip to start. I don’t quite remember what was in the dip…something about olive oil…soybean oil? Olive? Balsamic?
Alex’s Turkey Stuffing Fritters (13)
“cranberry sauce, turkey gravy, arugula”. These fritters were so yummy! Hot, crunchy, and savoury. It’s like Thanksgiving all over again, but bite-sized and without the dry turkey. Would order more if we weren’t set on exploring as much of the menu as we can.
Dennis’ Roasted Beef (16)
“brown butter hollandaise, beef jus”. When this came…words cannot describe how excited we all got. The smell of that roast beef. Absolutely intoxicating. I couldn’t snap photos fast enough because we all just wanted to dive in.
Perfection on a plate? Well, I haven’t eaten many good cuts of beef but this was amazing. Tender and juicy. It was so flavourful. A little rarer than I expected but no complaints here! The hollandaise was somehow able to complement and bump it up even more but w/o it, the beef would still be phenomenal.
Sean’s Rainbow Trout (18)
“barigoule sauce, leek fries”. We were all really curious about what the leek fries would look like. So here we are. (Sorry for the grainy photos, the lens I used that night isn’t able to shoot well in the dark…which I should’ve thought about beforehand :( ). I normally shy away from cooked fish because it’s usually dry and/or overcooked but I’m so glad we ordered this!
The trout was medium rare done so it was super moist. To be honest, I didn’t expect the trout was this tasty. I expected the flavour to be subtler but nope, it really stood out! Wondering what “barigoule sauce” is? So were we. It’s a Provençal sauce usually served with artichokes but can also be paired with fish. Either way, this dish was really good!
|There's the leek fries! Crispy but be careful, they get soggy quick after coming in contact with the barigoule!|
John’s Burger (13)
“branston pickle, braised ribs, aged cheddar, coleslaw”. Every time I heard or read about Marben, there is mention of this burger. Then there’s the wish that they didn’t cut it into quarters…but this place serves food meant to be shared. haha
Oh yeah. I totally get what they meant. This burger is unlike any other I’ve ever had (due to the braised ribs in lieu of a beef patty) and yes, I would love to have one to myself. It was so delicious!!! So meaty and juicy. Why aren’t all burgers made like this?! The coleslaw was nice, although I think it would’ve stood out more had it been served cold? Point is, gimme more John’s burgers!!
|Conveniently quartered to make sharing a breeze. :D|
Sage & Brown Butter Gnocchi with Brussels Sprouts (5)
Like the “John’s Burger,” I’ve also read about this understated dish. These in-house made gnocchi were pillowy soft and man were they good!! Most of us hadn’t had gnocchi before this and I’m thinking, what better introduction to it than this?! :) mmmm. They had the right amount of chew to them and along with all the other goodies in the dish, you get it all texture-wise!
Pommes Kennedy (5)
Time to decide on more food. Yeah, we wanted MORE! :D When asked to recommend a dish, Dessa steered us toward the Pommes Kennedy. Thinly sliced cubes of potato fried in a brown butter hollandaise. SOLD! They were so crunchy!! And because it’s been thinly sliced, you get about a dozen layers of crunch. A little on the salty side but still great. We had a feeling they specifically gave us 5 pieces since there were 5 of us. How thoughtful! :D Ugh, they were so good we should’ve ordered more.
Giggie’s Whitefish (15)
“parsnip mash, caper-lemon brown butter, pine nuts”. This was the final dish we ordered. Good but in my opinion, definitely not as good as the previous dishes. The fish was well done…and it didn’t shine in comparison to the rainbow trout. Everything else on the dish was great though. The sultanas that were soaked in earl grey tea was for me, the nicest touch.
Dessert time! I was so excited to try some (if not all) their desserts but my friend Phoenix had other plans.
She had bought a lemon coconut layer cake from Dufflet! Gaah, that was so nice of her! It was brought out with a single lit candle. Of course I snapped a few photos. And then embarrassment ensued.
My friends sang Happy Birthday. Now I don’t know about you, but I prefer not to be the centre of attention so I could feel myself getting all red. haha Yup. There’s the five of us, all super pleased with out meal and ready for cake!
Hmmm, what to wish for? (wish made) Time to eat! Six layers of coconut cake sandwiched between alternating layers of lemon and coconut buttercream. It’s dense and rich! I love lemon so naturally, I really liked this cake! I’ve also had the “Devil’s Raspberry Cakelet” from Dufflet and am now a solid fan their cakes.
Here’s a shot of their kitchen. More creative light fixtures like these ones using giant whisk attachments for mixers.
Then there’s the old birdcage. Thought has been put into everything when they renovated Marben, but of course, the biggest focus is on the food.
The original bill was around $122. As a member of DiningDateNight, for a small $10 reservation I got 30% off. They forgot to put in the discount but gladly did so after I brought it up. That’s pretty sweet! And this translated into savings of over $32. The food is relatively inexpensive already but with the discount, it’s such a great deal! :D Bonus, becoming a member is free!
P.S. For all you peeps who miss Duggan's Brewery after it closed earlier this year, Marben serves the famous Duggan #9 IPA!!
Verdict? You can count on me to return to Marben. I loved everything (except perhaps the whitefish). The food is fantastic here and the service was impeccable. I’m already dreaming about that roasted beef and burger!!
5 out of 5 NOMs