It’s been quite some time since my last visit to Marché Moderne, more than a year I’d say. My girlfriends and I came here to celebrate a birthday and we chose a place we knew we could trust to deliver both in service and taste.
Our server Marino was friendly and definitely chatty. It was nice to have someone knowledgeable about the menu and who wasn’t afraid to state his opinions on what his favorite dishes were. A bread basket consisting of two kinds of bread arrived for us to snack on while we perused the menu.
We started with an array of appetizers to share. In fact, we always like to dine family style, this way, everyone gets a taste of everything without filling up on one thing.
Big Eye Tuna ($15) was a tartare with elderflower espuma (a creamy gelatin sauce), shaved daikon, drizzled with a cucumber yuzu kosho vinaigrette. It was good, but didn’t wow. I loved the yuzu kosho vinaigrette especially because this chili pepper paste infused with yuzu peel and salt has such a distinctive flavor and I have been accustomed to sushi chefs putting it onto raw fish as a condiment for years now.
We were so happy to see the Charcuterie ($13) plate comprising homemade duck terrine, salame Toscano, La Quercia prosciutto, coppa ham and homemade rilette de porc. Toasted baguette, cornichons and mustard accompanied and while I loved the different meats, I think my favorite was the duck terrine with a layer of duck fat on top.
I’ve had the Roasted Spanish Octopus ($16) and loved it! I guess my friends enjoyed the dish as well. A saffron emulsion, celery, potato, shaved chorizo, jus de citron and huile d’olive brought this concoction together so artfully and tastefully we couldn’t get enough of it. It was truly the winner amongst our first courses.
Moving on to our main courses, Manila Clams Mariniere ($22) was my pick and the first of our entrees to arrive. I am a sucker for steamed clams. These were prepared with white wine, garlic and a sprinkle of fresh, parsley on top and served with a side of pomme frites. The clams were so deliciously flavorful I only wished they weren’t so gritty. Every one of us caught some sand in our mouth at one time or another while eating this.
Duck Breast ($34) proved to be a worthy choice — a suggestion by Marino — and we all ooo-ed and ahhh-ed at how tender the duck was and how it wasn’t marred by any fussiness whatsoever. Its natural flavors was only enhanced by the amaretto jus on the plate.
Our last entree, Chicken Coq Au Vin ($26) was another perfect choice. The richness of the sauce, together with the cremini mushrooms, cipollini onions and bacon floating in the red wine reduction was only slightly overshadowed by the hand rolled tagliatelle immersed in the cast iron pot. The noodles had soaked up all the flavors of the sauce, making it the most decadent mouthful you’ll ever eat.
While we ordered two desserts, the first being Lemon Gateau Basque ($12), I didn’t enjoy the honey lavender panna cotta served alongside. The texture was too firm and the honey overpowered taking over so much that the lavender was not detected at all.
Surprisingly, I liked the Tarte of Braeburn Apple & Creme D’Amande ($12) even though I’m not a fan of apples. Unfortunately for you I didn’t bother to take any pictures to show you since the desserts were more for my friends’ benefit moreso than mine. I was blissfully happy with the duck and chicken and would’ve been more than satisfied to have left it at that.
Marché Moderne remains one of those places in Orange County which offers a first rate, quality menu and delivers not only on paper, but also, in its execution. It is definitely one of the top OC restaurants in my book.
3333 Bristol Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626