Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me - Marea

Husband J surprised me (or tried to surprise me) yet again for my birthday. He's also a little bit perturbed by the fact that we went to a nice dinner just last month for our anniversary. Folks, did he think that I didn't plan this when picking our wedding date?! Hello! ;) Just kidding... (well, actually...)

I told Husband J that HE picked Marea, and it's Italian focused seafood and not me. I was more than happy to go to a 2 Michelin star restaurant for my birthday, especially if he wanted to. Marea is a tad fancy schmancy, and it was so hard for Husband J to get a reservation that we didn't get to eat until about 10pm. The funny thing was that people were coming in to eat well after we sat down! We were shocked, but I don't know why. People do things in New York at all times of the day and night.

We also had a celebrity sighting. We got there early and were standing near the bar before getting seated. I happened to notice a guy that looked like Matt Dillon when I was passing one end of the bar looking for a seat. I did the quick, non-stalkerish look. You're not allowed to make a scene when you see a celebrity (in NYC anyway), so I mentioned this to Husband J, who confirmed it was him later.

Marea's menu is actually somewhat similar to the process as River Cafe. While you can order a la carte individual dishes (WARNING: NOT a good value), there are 6 course or 8 course tasting menus. The most popular option is to put together four courses from their VERY vast and intimidating menu. You take one dish each from from their Crudo (sliced raw fish or shellfish), Ostriche (Oysters), Antipasti (appetizers essentially), Pasta, Secondi (usually a main course dish, many of Marea's feature fish) or their whole fish dishes, which can be shared for an extra charge (with dessert at the end). Husband J and I decided to get a variety of the types of dishes so that we could try many options .

Please note the following:

1. These pics were taken with an Iphone 'cause I forgot my camera at home. Plus, when I'm in a nicer restaurant, sometimes it's hard to focus on the pic taking, KWIM? And it was my birthday...

2. Their menu online is a little different than what I had so I am going to wing the food descriptions. :) If the folks at Marea ever find this post, I'm apologizing ahead of time for misidentifying their food. I apologize to you guys, too.

First Course

An appetizer for me

Calamari, heirloom tomato and chicken sausage like thing I'm not remembering
I never thought that I'd like calamari and a chicken sausage-esque thing. Simple and completely flavorful.

Crudo for Husband J

Langoustines (Small lobsters that resemble prawns), pink sea salt, cucumber
Extremely refreshing! The langoustines melted in your mouth. I was jealous of his choice.

Pasta Course

For Husband J

Seafood Risotto - Shrimp, lobster, scallop
This was nice. I like risotto and make it quite a bit at home. Husband J thought this needed a little bit more seasoning (perhaps a little salt), and I agree. I wanted more flavor from this dish, but who can really complain about fresh seafood and perfectly cooked risotto?

Fusilli with Red Wine Braised Octopus and Bone Marrow
One of the best dishes we had all night. Tender octopus and the fusilli was perfectly al dente. This is one of Marea's signature dishes, and it showed. This is the closest thing to red sauce Italian food that we had all night, but it was a complete explosion of tomato, salty sea food and fresh pasta. I could imagine being in an Italian seaside fishing village after eating this.


For Husband J

Snapper with a Sumer Corn Relish
I really like this dish. The relish was so flavorful balancing corn, cream and had bits of sausage or chorizo, which added smokiness to the dish.

For me
Branzino (Mediterranean Sea Bass), Candied Pistachios, Apricot
The fish was not the star of the show for me, but I did think it was perfectly cooked, soft and buttery. I guess candied anything is going to make any dish taste great, and I loved the nuts. The greens (I'm forgetting what they were) were a little bitter and spicy. There was some kind of rice ball on the plate that had no flavor, and I found perfectly unnecessary.

Crostata di Cioccolato (Milk Chocolate Ganache, Amaretto Cream, Coffee Gelato)
I only had a bit, but yet another great choice by Husband J. Anything mixing coffee and chocolate gets my vote.

Bomboloni (Sugar Covered Doughnut Holes), Lemon Cream, Cassis (Black Currant) & Prickly Pear Sorbet
Loved these. Hello, they're warm doughnut holes!! The lemon cream was a perfect balance between sweet and tart, and the prickly pear ice cream reminded me of our trip to the Southwest last year. Thanks to the kitchen for acknowledging my birthday.

Overall, was I blown away by this meal? No. Was it very good? Yes, indeed. I would totally return Marea just to try different items on their menu and for their exceptional preparations of fish and seafood.

Okay, no more birthday references until next year. :)

240 Central Park South
New York, NY


Geek in Heels said...

Happy birthday! The food from Marea looks absolutely delicious! I'm glad you had a good celebration and I hope you have a great year!

Anne said...

Happy birthday!That delicious food is making me seriously hungry!!

Daphne said...

I love seafood, so I enjoyed the yummy pictures. Thanks for sharing!

nellie said...

Hands down, my favorite restaurant in NYC! Looks like you and J had a blast (and a feast!) Your photos are making me hungry... I might just have to take a cue from you and book a reservation soon.

Hannah {Culture Connoisseur} said...

Mmm that risotto looks scrumptious! Happy birthday to you! And congrats on the fine dining!

Mrs. Hot Cocoa said...

Looks delicious. Happy birthday!


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