Well, here is goes – our first review, and in my eyes what better way to start it with a restaurant that easily pulled off a feast for the senses. There is so much to discuss about The Marquis that this is a bit of a long review, but with that I am just going to dive right in!
Restaurant: The Marquis
Mains Price: $25 – $35
Dress Code: Neat Casual (Girls – think a nice frock, Lads – think jeans and a nice shirt)
Mood: Relaxed yet special (explained more further down)
Specialty: Use of their Sommelier
We arrived at The Marquis to find a very busy, yet snug and inviting looking restaurant. You instantly want to be a part of the scene that you find. Its trendy, people are having a good time and there is a buzz about the room – it’s exciting!
It took us a minute or two to find someone, and when we did, we thought our night was over before it began – they couldn’t find our booking! But after a minute of confusion, we realised they had booked under my last name, and with a sheepish look on my face we were lead to our table which was in the back of the seated area. This was great! Only 3 other couples were close by and there was a lower noise level than the rest of the restaurant – perfect for long romantic chats… or something like that!
We were given a ‘per glass’ wine menu and a brief explanation that we could select a bottle from the giant wall of wines that we passed as we entered with the help of their Sommelier should we wish. Instantly, we know which option we were to choose.
Our waiter for the evening, Haydn, was quick to return to take drink orders, but seeing we were going to order a bottle after we’d chosen our food, he let us be for a while. We were too busy chatting to even look at our menu, taking in the surroundings and commenting on how comfy, warm and decadent the decor looked, so when Haydn returned once again and answered some of our questions (like what is Epoisse?), we then decided we should start looking seriously at the menu.
The menu was simple with just 5 sections – appetisers, entrées, mains, sides and desserts. Each section did not offer a huge range of choices, which was great for someone like me who has a severe lack of ability to decide. Tastes on the menu ranged from indulgent cheeses, duck and salmon, through to different cuts of steak and a few vegetarian options too. We made our choices and waited patiently for our waiter to return. He did take a while, but we weren’t fazed, it was Valentine’s Day and there was not an empty seat in the building.
With our choices made and whisked away to the kitchen, we eagerly made our way to the library of wine and it’s here that I think I’ve never seen Andy’s eyes get so big. The wall was simple – whites on one side organised from Riesling through to Chardonnay and everything in between, and the other with reds from Merlot through to Shiraz. We knew we were after a white wine due to our menu choices, and with Andy taking my lack of Chardonnay liking into consideration we started looking at a Pinot Gris. The bottles ranged from $25 through to ‘I really don’t think I want to re-mortgage my house’, and after a minute or two, the Sommelier appeared with a friendly smile and asked us what we were after. We questioned him about something that had caught our eye – a 2011 Fiano by Ducks In A Row. To me it sounded like a fancy piano, but Andy was much more intrigued. Learning that it was very similar to a Pinot Gris we settled on this and made out way back to our table where two little bread rolls had appeared.
The bread rolls were simple, like any rolls really, but what really caught our taste buds off guard was the butter, we could see that it had a wonderful coating of rock salts, but the taste was different to anything we had before. While I thought it had an undertone of truffle oil or similar, Andy was completely stumped. As we found out later on in the night, it was actually infused with goat’s curd and made common bread and butter into something much more special.
After a short wait, and already a half glass each into our wine, our entrées arrived! So what did we order? Andy ordered a crumbed Epoisse with mushroom tortellini, parsley puree and field potato. Epoisse is a French cheese that was originally made in Burgundy, has a texture that is similar to Brie and is much more pungent in smell and flavour. This came fried in two servings similar to croquettes, paired with a large mushroom tortellini. While the mushroom did overpower the flavours of the Epoisse, it was style a delicious dish with the cheese being very bitey.
Myself? I ordered the Confit of Duck – a duck leg deep fried in low heat oil served on a small salad dressed in mustard and celeriac rémoulade. The duck was amazing as it fell off the bone as my fork touched it but the only downfall for my meal…. it tasted “like all of my grandmothers had each taken a turn in adding salt to the dish”, and anyone who has a European family will tell you, that makes it very, very salty. You could still taste the beautiful flavours through this, but I was reaching for my glass of wine after nearly every mouthful.
With our entrées finished, we waited in anticipation for our mains and talked some more about our night so far. As we said earlier, the building had a very relaxed feel too it, but the decor just gave it a little something. It felt special and a little bit fancy whilst feeling homey at the same time. The room gave off an elegant feel without having to get dressed up in your formal best and the background music was well suited. I suppose it did capture a little bit of the magic feel Paris has about it and if you’ve ever been, you’ll know exactly what I mean. So far we had also been impressed by our waiter, as he was easy to chat to, knew what he was talking about when asked a question about a dish, and was more than happy to answer any question we threw at him and engage in casual conversation.
On to the mains! On the cards was a serve of Valdespino Duck Breast served with fresh pea cigars and different textures of mushroom for Andy, and for myself, I went for the Snapper with fresh vegetable consommé. In the spirit of eating out and needing to try anything we could, we also ordered a side of Fresh Peas with bacon, lettuce, vermouth and cream to share. Having seen other mains arrive before us, we were eager to get stuck into our when they arrive and it was well worth the wait. My snapper was accompanied with perfectly cooked and crisp fennel, peas, asparagus and carrot which our waiter finished at the table with the consommé (a clear soup like broth). The snapper was cooked amazingly well with the inside of the fish still moist and the skin with just a little bit of a crisp to it, as well as being well seasoned. Again this was well salted, but in this case unlike the duck, it was not overbearing nor did it take away from the dish. The meal was a light one, in the sense that all the flavours were crisp, clean and not overly rich, but the portion was large and it was immensely satisfying.
Andy’s duck was served with a ‘cigar’ of pea puree which resembled a spring roll filled with pea soup – still tasty and presented well, but not the highlight of the meal. The meal had two different textures of mushroom served with it, a puree and the same mushroom filling that had been used in Andy’s entrée The puree was very simple, but the mushroom filling was filled with flavour and really captured what a mushroom should be about – strong, distinctive and satisfying. The duck itself was presented in two parts, half was served as a breast, and the other already sliced showing off the perfectly cooked middle. The texture was similar to what would expect from a rare steak or a piece of sashimi and definitely blew away the common ‘casserole cooked’ duck stereotype of falling off in stringy pieces, had a strong but not overpowering taste and was a pleasure to eat.
Our side was something special in itself. If I could re-write the comment that Andy made on the night on here, we would instantly need an 18+ rating on this site. Let’s just say he liked it – a lot. We both agreed that the different textures in this dish made it truly amazing. The peas were still crisp and not over cooked, but the lettuce which had been warmed from the cream and vermouth sauce had taken on a slightly soggy texture to it and gave the dish a smooth and nostalgically mushy feel to it.
With our bellies full, we sat there determined to power on, so with a swift removal of our finished plates and a replacement with the dessert menu we scanned our eyes over the choices and made a quick decision – tonight it was to be a Rum Baba with pistachio ice cream, nougat and Turkish delight chosen by myself, and a Hazelnut and Bitter Chocolate Dacquiose with passionfruit sorbet chosen by Andy, but in no means were these to be exclusive – sharing all round!
The Dacquiose itself was served on a base of chocolate meringue and a pastry top, alongside a scoop of passionfruit sorbet filled with and scattered with pieces of bitter dark chocolate biscuit. Dacquiose is made from layers of hazelnut meringue and in this case, chocolate buttercream and has the consistency of ice cream mixed with chocolate mousse – heavenly. We found that depending on we had eaten beforehand really played on how bitter the chocolate really was. As I sampled some of this dessert first, I didn’t find it bitter at all, but as Andy had gone for the sweet Rum Baba first, his experience with the bitter chocolate was exactly that – very bitter! Our suggestion would be to eat the sorbet first as a pallet cleanser to experience the full taste of the dacquiose!
The Baba was beautiful and dense, fully soaked in rum as it should be. A small serving, it was just suffice for the needs of the busy dessert plate it was served on. The pistachio ice cream was gorgeous. It did not hold a very artificial flavour as many pistachio ice creams or gelato do, so it was a warm welcome to taste something that closely resembled the real thing. A small amount of nougat was served along with a few small pieces of Turkish delight. My only question about this revolves around the Turkish delight and its authenticity, as it had the consistency of jelly rather the texture of the many pieces I’ve eaten – sugary, chewy and slightly rubbery. Overall, it was an amazing dessert full of different flavours, which is great if you really wish you could eat more than one dessert (like I usually do).
At the end of our eating ventures, we realise that we had been at The Marquis for about 3 and a half hours – amazing! We did not feel we had been there this long at all, and felt it was proof that the staff had allowed adequate time between serving us and that the wait between meals was not too long (although we did give a bit of an allowance on some long waits due to how busy it was!). The atmosphere carried us through the night without a whim, and our only downfall for the evening came at the end of the night where our waiter had seemed to disappear (we did want to order some dessert wine we had tasted) as he was too occupied with cleaning up for the night –after all, we were the last patrons left for the night! After getting the attention of another staff member, we paid our bill and were on a way after an amazing dinner and of course, a fantastic Valentine’s Day.
We really feel that The Marquis is a fantastic venue to go to for a dinner that is just a little bit extra special and different than your average restaurant visit. The meals are a little more expensive than your norm, especially considering that Gouger Street is home to al lot of cheap Asian eateries, but we both agree that the little splurge is worth it as the food is unique and delicious, the venue is welcoming and the service is pretty damn good.