Upscale, Tasting Menu
Would We Come Back?
No, we'd much rather go to
Wiedmaier's other restaurant
Brabo, which is way cheaper and
Having fallen in love with Brabo, a restaurant by Robert Wiedmaier we had been meaning to try his first restaurant Marcel's. Conveniently for us we were already out and about around the Foggy Bottom metro station in Washington D.C. so we decided to stop in. Treating ourselves to an excellent meal seemed reasonable, even if it was just to celebrate the fact that it was Tuesday.
Marcel's has a unique menu because you can order any dish a la carte like any other restaurant - the twist is that you can order any of the dishes in an appetizer or an entree portion. The other unique part of their menu is that you may choose instead to do a tasting menu from 3 to 7 courses (3 course only available before 6:30 pm).
For our meal we decided to go with 5 courses. Each course we selected was different from each other, and we shared so that we could experience as much as possible. While a nice cheese plate and dessert course are great, we wanted to go all savory for the evening and avoided these categories.
To start off the chef provided us with an Amuse Bouche which was a Smoked Salmon Napolean with Caviar. It really was the perfect bite and we could've eaten dozens of these...I wonder what I'll want to get catered the next time I have a sophisticated cocktail party... But anyway, the meal progressed and we got our first courses, the Scallops and the Skate Wing. The scallops were perfectly cooked and worked well with the butternut squash and bacon, a well composed dish. The skate wing, while delicious, had mostly a fried flavor which left something to desire.
The second course arrived with the Rockfish and Red Snapper. Again it was a bit of a mixed bag, the rockfish was good but could've been any white fish and the pork belly on that dish was tasty but there was not a lot of it. The star of the rockfish plate was the pineapple pico de gallo and the coconut cream, on their own they could be an excellent vegetarian dish - if only the chef had used a little more of the coconut cream. In comparison, however, the rockfish was much more a success than the snapper. The snapper, too, could have been any white fish. The ratatouille was delicious but way to overpowering, it was hard to taste anything else. And I absolutely love balsamic, it is usually a selling point for me when I decide on a dish from a menu, but it just wasn't cohesive with the flavor profile of the rest of the plate.
The third course was overall the weakest offering yet curiously provided my single favorite bite of the evening. Turbotin and Tagliatelle were the slections for this course. The turbotin was nothing special and the risotto had no traces of saffron, not to mention that it was undercooked - this is the only dish I would call a failure outright. The tagliatelle was very bland, squid ink makes a pasta interesting but does not impart much flavor itself, at least a little salt and pepper please? That being said the snails were perfectly cooked and were very flavorful, I missed being able to take the snails out myself with a little fork as they were already shell-less. Beyond that was my favorite bite, the sweetbread. The fry on the sweetbread was flaky and crunchy and the sweetbread melted in my mouth. Katherine felt this fry was overpowering like the skate wing but I disagree.
For the fourth course we received Poussin and Beef Tenderloin. The poussin was very good and was Katherine's favorite dish, I wasn't a fan but that is because of my personal dislike of tarragon. The beef tenderloin was well cooked and tasty, good but its your "run of the mill" meat and potatoes course.
Lastly, we had the Duck Breast and Bison Loin. The duck was rendered well and paired nicely with the black trumpet mushrooms. The only downside to the duck breast was the potatoes, they were kind of thrown on the plate as an after thought, undercooked and underseasoned. The bison, in comparison to the beef, was worlds apart. This was not just a meat and potatoes kind of dish, all of the accompaniments harmonized and were out of the ordinary and interesting - raisins and kalamata olives together, who knew? The sunchoke flan was delicious but the texture was a little undesirable. Overall this was a nice end to the dinner.
Before we got our check the chef surprised us with a miniature dessert course which put smiles on our faces. The boysenberry macaroon was certainly a flavor of macaroon I had not experienced and was very tasty and you could feed me the almond paste candy for breakfast lunch and dinner. I would recommend giving Marcel's a try for a special occasion, the food is actually very good, but in my opinion Robert Wiemaier's other restaurant Brabo is far better and wont hurt your wallet as badly!