I had already planned to check out Marea after having read about Michael White’s pasta. Watching him make the pasta on Martha Stewart’s cooking show with my nephew (not literally) further solidified my resolve to try its prix fixe lunch.
This is how the lunch unfolded at the bar, headed, by the way, with a very efficient and adept bartender.
1) Bread basket filled with freshly baked slices of seven-grain, sourdough, and rosemary breads. Accompanied by olive oil. The chewy bites that I have of the seven-grain bread are filled with dense earthy kernels. Save the calories for the fish and pasta, though.
2) Crudo: fluke with pomegranate seeds and scallions, langostine with cucumber and adorned with clover leaf (?), tuna bedecked with fried chips and dill sauce. The langostine and tuna are fresh and crisp to the bite whereas the fluke is a bit chewy and lacking in texture. For the fourth dish, the puree and kale work well together but do not mesh with the other ingredients. The roe lends crunch but no depth to the dish and the smoked scallop does not add dimension. As for why the strawberry slice is there, you would have to ask the chef.
Each element exists well on its own but not in unison. I had expected a better symbiosis for the composition of the crudo.
3) Pasta: Next to the halibut (see below), the pasta truly was memorable. I will never forget its al dente bite, soft, resilient, tangible. I would come back just for the pasta.
4) Fish: Halibut accompanied by morels, pureed kale, fresh peas, and baby potatoes. I had never tasted fresh English peas before and these were good: light, clean, pure. There is a lemony zing to the beef-based stock but overall, I wish the dish had been prepared more simply, as if it were a crudo. The halibut was the star of this entree, the beauty of its white flesh could stand on its own. All of the accompaniments detracted from the main ingredient and the base was too heavy for the lightness of the fish. Again, as with the crudo, I thought there would be more mastery applied to the dish composition.
Would I return to Marea? Yes, if only for the most simply-prepared dishes of seafood and pasta.