South Coast Plaza
3333 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Dining date: 9/26/11
I often see Marché Moderne near the top (or atop) lists of the best Orange County restaurants. Located in a mall (South Coast Plaza), I suspect many mall-goers that walk by may not realize the accolades garnished upon this place. The restaurant serves upscale French bistro fare in a really quaint setting that almost makes you forget you’re in a large mall. Almost.
I’ve been for lunch once (trying just one dish) and I thought it was pretty good. I’ve wanted to come for dinner for years now but just haven’t gotten to it. An occasion to meet some family friends in Orange County for lunch would be the perfect opportunity to drop by again.
The restaurant offers a 3-course lunch menu for $20 ($25 on the weekend), changing often. Quite a deal considering a 3-course a la carte meal can easily reach the higher double-digits. I think almost all of the lunch diners opt for that menu…we certainly did.
Smoked Salmon cucumber, mint, yogurt, freshly baked scone, arugula
The first course was a lightly-smoked salmon on a bed of spinach and arugula. Both the salmon and greens were solid, but the freshly baked scone was delightful – warm, buttery and tasty. I didn’t think the scone really fit in with the rest of the plate, but I still enjoyed it.
Milanese of Pork Filet horseradish & dijon pommes puree, caper tomato tartare, micro arugula
One of the entree options was this pork, pounded thin and breaded milanese-style. It was pretty moist and tender, complemented well by the crunchy breading and salty acidity of capers and tomatoes. A dijon-horseradish potato puree was nice as well.
Provencal Butter Roasted Shrimp Israeli couscous, blistered cherry tomatoes, yuzu emulsion, micro citrus
The second entree option was shrimp, just cooked through with roasted cherry tomatoes and a couscous. The sweetness and acidity of the tomatoes worked well with the shrimp, while the couscous provided a welcome grounding of flavors. The creamy emulsion of yuzu provided some welcome citrus flavors as well.
Peach Gateau caramel, chantilly
Lastly, dessert was a peach gateau with caramel sauce and chantilly cream. Served warm, the gateau was rich and buttery, though the peach flavor was lost. Pretty comforting, nonetheless. The chantilly cream helped to lighten things up a bit.
The three course menu at Marché Moderne was solid. Nothing exactly memorable, but it was a well-executed variety of flavors. For three courses at $20, it presented a ton of value and a budget-friendly opportunity to try the restaurant. I do need to return here for dinner, eventually, as I feel it’ll be a much different experience.