Marche Moderne (Costa Mesa, CA)

Marche Moderne
3333 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Dining date: 3/30/14

exterior

After having dinner at Studio the previous night during a quick weekend trip, Marche Moderne was our choice for lunch on the way back from LA. Known for its upscale French bistro food in South Coast Plaza (which really takes mall food up a few notches), the restaurant offers a notable three-course daily lunch menu for $25.

Marche Moderne offers all the items one expects from a French bistro from cheese & charcuterie to a large selection steeped in French classics to some modernized, Californian dishes. The prix-fixe for lunch offers a soup or salad, a plated meat or fish main course and a small dessert. Between two people, it’s possible to sample all of the options on the prix-fixe menu…which is what we did.

fleur de provence wild flower honey, lavender vodka, champagne
fleur de champagne lychee, elderflower liqueur, champagne

champagne cocktails

To begin, we went with a duo of crisp refreshing champagne cocktails. An ideal way to start a weekend lunch.

roasted beets creamy blue cheese, red mustard greens, tangerine

roasted beets, creamy blue cheese, red mustard greens, tangerine

spanish minestrone chicken bouillon, beans, chorizo, smoked paprika & pine nut pesto

spanish minestrone, chicken bouillon, beans, chorizo, smoked paprika & pine nut pesto

One salad and one soup made up the first course options. The salad’s sweet beets were offset by bitter arugula, while tangerine segments brightened everything up. The soup’s presentation seemed a little messy and didn’t have a whole lot of substance. Slices of chorizo provided much of the flavor in the light broth.

oc register fresh pommes frites twice fried (140 and 180 degrees)

oc register fresh pommes frites twice fried (140 and 180 degrees)

I still have no idea what the O.C. Register wrote up about these fries, but I’m a sucker for good fries. The combination of it being named after some article and the fact it was limited to 30 servings a day was enough to get me to order these. The fries were, indeed, delicious served piping hot with a nice fluffy interior and good crunch. No sauce needed.

brown butter roasted new zealand hoki corn and asparagus risotto, shellfish and smoked paprika bouillon

brown butter roasted new zealand hoki corn and asparagus risotto, shellfish and smoked paprika bouillon

One of the two main course options, I really enjoyed this dish. The white fish had a crispy sear and moist flesh; great on its own but better with the creamy risotto. Corn and asparagus provided some fresh flavors to each bite.

boneless braised short ribs fresh angel hair pasta, caramelized fennel butter, vin rouge

boneless braised short ribs fresh angel hair pasta, caramelized fennel butter, vin rouge

The second main course option featured this generous chunk of short rib. It was perhaps a touch on the dry side but still pretty tasty with a rich and flavorful jus. The fresh pasta really needed to be tossed in some type of sauce as it all clumped together into one mass on the plate, especially while weighed down by the beef.

almond gateau basque au parfum de pamplemousse, mousseline and zest

almond gateau basque au parfum de pamplemousse, mousseline and zest

Served warm, the gateau had a subtle sweetness and almond flavor. Grapefruit added a little bit of fresh brightness to go along with the whipped cream accompaniment.

Marche Moderne’s lunch provided a lot of value and a generous amount of food, though it may not have been the most interesting menu. The hoki dish and the fries were standouts and I still think lunch is a good way to try the restaurant. I’m not really inspired to make a trip for dinner yet though.


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