Sometimes when I walk into a brand new restaurant, I feel like I’ve accidentally stepped onto a magazine shoot. The furniture and décor are a little too perfect, and I am always embarrassed when someone comes over to wipe the crumbs in front of me. It was a relief when, walking into new restaurant Marrow, I felt not like an intruder, but like an appreciated guest.
Upon entering the new Sixth Avenue establishment, I was immediately greeted by a personable host. Not overly stuffy or grandiose, she received me like a friend ushering me into a very stylish, comfortable apartment. The restaurant was bustling, but our party of four was encouraged to take any available table.
We were promptly helped by our server, and offered not an ordinary lemon or lime for our water, but a cucumber. Who knew that this humble little veggie could transform tap into a spa beverage? The server gave us a thorough tour of the menu, comprising separate meat-eater and vegetarian fare, with some vegan options. When asked, the server enthusiastically responded that the owners hope to highlight seasonal ingredients on a changing menu.
Notes on Nibbles
We ordered two generous appetizers, two main courses, and one dessert, all to share. The trendy small plate concept is one that hasn’t quite made it to Tacoma in full force so the option is welcome and much needed; Marrow is the perfect place to share a plate or two. Or five.
The oxtail and fried egg dish immediately caught my eye. Though ultimately satisfying, I yearned for a stronger boost of flavor. A crunch or acidity; perhaps some sherry, or a sprinkle of fresh herbs.
I am a firm believer that a properly cooked egg can only improve a dish, forming a rich sauce as the yolk breaks. Rather disappointingly, the fried egg only muddled the flavors of the toothsome oxtail, though truly, the diner can’t really complain. At ten dollars this is dish is a steal, giving four of us plenty of richness and taste to share.
Following bites of the substantial oxtail, the watermelon salad was a pleasant contrast. Sweet, crisp watermelon was paired with creamy goat cheese and pistachio, while crunchy frisee added another layer; the combination was absolutely refreshing and nourishing.
Although this blend is frequently seen on summer menus, Marrow’s version has now set the standard for me with its commitment to a variety of textures and tastes. I gained probably too much satisfaction making the perfect little bite on my fork of all of the components because just one or two ingredients at a time simply does not compare.
The scallops with quinoa were perfectly seared from the brown crust to to the tender center. I tend to hold my breath before taking of a bite of a scallop dish for the first time, since they can easily be gritty and unappetizing. No need to worry at Marrow, scallop lovers! The accompanying quinoa added a pleasant (not at all mushy) nuttiness cut with a tang of black salt sprinkle.
At first bite, the farrotto with Beecher’s cheese, pistachio and vegetables dish seemed like a comfortable standard. Chewy whole farro grains with a little cheese and some colorful veggies were perfectly adequate. Yet, with each subsequent bite, the harmony of melted cheese and robust wild mushrooms develop sumptuously (did I mention that this is Beecher’s cheese? Brownie points for a favorite local ingredient). After a third bite of the dish, I found myself scooping at spoonfuls of the cheese sauce pooling in the bottom of the dish, imagining how that this would taste best straight out of the pan. I feel that negotiation should be a possibility.
Overly Efficient Service?
There is nothing worse than waiting an eternity for your order to appear, so I am shocked to find myself uttering the words: Marrow’s service may be too quick and attentive. It is quite impressive that even on a fairly busy night, food was expedited at the rate of some speedy take-out places, but for this atmosphere, this expedience is not necessary. If shared dishes were spaced out over the course of the dinner, I guarantee that my party would have enjoyed more cocktails and courses, upping our final tab.Also, my eating team and I agreed, that a few snacks (nothing fancy; perhaps a small dish of nuts, olives or bread) on the table would have improved the overall experience.
That said we felt no pressure to leave after our plates were cleared. Tables were pushed together as additional patrons joined our party. We were encouraged to stay as long as we wanted, and definitely perused the happy hour menu for some part II dining. The late night happy hour menu starts at 10pm nightly and consists of $5 bar food items (think polenta fries) and reasonably priced drinks. However, I recommend splurging on one of their innovative cocktails. Delightful concoctions with unconventional flavor combinations, these cocktails are well worth the $7-10.
A Delightful Conclusion
Near the end of the night Jaime Kay Jones came to the table, had a seat and began chatting. She humbly thanked us for our praises including our comment that Marrow is not only a welcome addition, but a necessary one. She recommended the poached pear for dessert, a light ending to the meal. It confirmed that there is of course always room for crème fraiche with fruit, and for that matter, there is always room for a little time at Marrow.