The Marc Restaurant
By Kirsten Telander:
There are three words to sum up 2012 for Chef Antonio Campolio. James. Beard. House. He had me at James Beard. If you’re not familiar with the Greenwich Village townhouse-turned-foundation named after the culinary icon James Beard, to be invited into its hallowed halls is the equivalent of an invitation to the White House. But you have to bring a massive amount of ingredients and your A game. To add to my cliché, it’s a go big or go home type of deal.
According to the sold out crowd on December 12, Campolio seriously moved the chains., with The Marc Sous Chef Erik Johnson and Pastry Chef Mandi Wendt, and Dan Thiessen of the Wine Country Culinary Institute in Walla Walla by his side. Upon his return, Campolio just smiled in that hunky Italian way and said, “life is good.”
His menu at the James Beard House represented the best of Walla Walla and Washington state farms and five Walla Walla wineries including L’Ecole No 41 Winery, Leonetti Cellars, Three Rivers Winery, TERO Estates, and Woodward Canyon.
Per usual, Marcus Whitman owners Kyle and Brenda Mussman were a class act, purchasing dinner tickets for all of the winemakers involved, and launching a promotional campaign to celebrate Campolio. It’s no surprise the effort was dubbed the Walla Walla Road Show – every winemaker attended along with spouses and friends to a crowd of epicureans from New York and well beyond. In addition to Campolio, the high numbers were a result of the interest in Walla Walla wines. Damn it’s good to be a Walla Wallan these days.
I had an opportunity to experience the James Beard Tasting Menu at The Marc Restaurant on the fortnight of Campolios’s sojourn to New York City, with spectacular wine pairing selections from Restaurant Manager and Sommelier Dan McCaffrey.
The amuse bouche was served in one of those adorable serving spoons, the stark white of which showed off the colors of the cranberry jam, duck confit and herbed goat cheese brilliantly.
The Cape Cod Diver Scallop was massive and embellished with butternut squash purée, stone fruit mostarda, spiced pecan, green apple, and sunflower. The Three Rivers 2010 Chardonnay was delightfully creamy – a perfect pairing.
Equally perfect was the 2010 Woodward Canyon Artist Series #19 Cabernet Sauvignon with the Upper Dry Creek Ranch lamb. The pepper and rich berry notes of the wine elevators the flavors of the sweet potato gnocchi, white chocolate, huckleberry jam, 25-year balsamic, and mint.
Typically the Tasting Menu includes four courses; the James Beard sampler was three due to the large portions and selections, the finale being the Valrhona dark chocolate French silk with Port fig jam, Chantilly, and vanilla, topped with Marcona almond brittle. This plate of lusciousness was paired with an equally luscious 2009 Syrah from L’Ecole No 41.
The Tasting Menu rotates monthly with pairings from a single winery, kicking off the New Year with Bergevin Lane. What was a surprise was the cost I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Vineyard Lounge adjacent to The Marc Restaurant. Bar Manager Silas Manlove has revived time forgotten ingredients but uses the latest methods in molecular mixology. This is a guy who has home-made bitters – some made specifically for an individual cocktail) and puts squid ink in his bloody marys. “There are no rules, flavor is king, balance is my bride,” he says pushing his Clark Kent style glasses up the bridge of his nose. Cheers.
The Marc Restaurant
Sunday – Thursday 5:30 – 8:30
Fri, Sat 5:30 – 9:00
The Vineyard Lounge
Daily 4:00 – 9(ish)
6 West Rose Street