COSTA MESA, CALIF., Nov. 23, 2013 -
With Florent conducting the festivities from center stage in the open kitchen like a gastronomical
Located in the extremely upscale
The key is a vivid dining experience that transcends the traditional in favor of innovative dishes that are immediately timeless. Florent Marneau creates a fiery palate of unique ingredients tempered with the restraint of delicate flavors brought to life.
Gourmets flock to be in the presence of a great chef who is actually at the center of his kitchen, personally turning out the evening’s dinner before your eyes.
His wife Amelia Marneau is the pastry chef extraordinaire, but also Florent’s indispensable partner in all aspects of both the restaurant and in life. They each followed separate paths for years as rising stars in Orange County, finally combining their professional talents 6 years ago by opening Marche’ Moderne.
Fine dining in
The restaurant is divided into a beautifully appointed dining room with elegant banquets, hard wood floors and rich dark colors. It leads onto a more casually designed but spacious patio area with a series of booths and tables under a retractable roof that can reveal the sky on warm summer nights.
At the apex of one end of the dining room is the open kitchen. Florent is at center stage, in the spotlight, as he finishes each and every dish before it is served.
An amuse bouche of Caribbean conch starts the evening with flair, the conch meaty and tender, enhanced by celery, chorizo and smoked paprika. Oysters du jour are hearty and fresh, changing with the season, with two simple mignonettes for dipping. The heirloom baby beet salad is a wonder, whole beets sourced from a local farm, lovingly presented alongside a basil and fresh goat milk panna cotta.
A generous portion of New Zealand abalone tempura over an heirloom tomato risotto is head spinning, the abalone immaculately tender, while the risotto is deliciously light and rich. Roast Spanish octopus is a fabulous counterpoint, mouthwatering and flavorful, in a beautiful jus de citron.
“Ris de veau” sweetbreads sautéed a la provencale with dates, apricot, and a fresh coriander sauce verte is spectacular, a plump burst of flavor with a crispy outer shell. A 2010 Littorai Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir from winemaker of the year Ted Lemon is a more than worthy complement. It blends seamlessly with the rack of
Braised short rib with cipollini onions and cremini mushrooms served in a steaming pot is nothing short of a revelation. This is an exquisite signature dish, stewed in its own sumptuous juices. A final course of
Then it is Amelia Marneau’s turn to shine with a stunning series of desert courses. A tarte of braeburn apple and crème d’amande and a fleur de sel caramel is wonderful, a glaze of tender sweet fruit that entices without overwhelming. Beignets with a butterscotch pot de crème transcends all concepts of delight, truly so lovely it is tempting to order more than one.
Starters and appetizers are a relatively reasonable $15 to $25, and most entrees run around $40. Appetizer portions tend toward smaller plates, while entrees are graciously ample, and sampling a variety of courses over the span of several hours is highly recommended. At
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in
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