01 September 2007

Eugene Restaurant Review: Marché

I had been told that Eugene had a lot of great restaurants. We've been here for a few months now, and I hadn't really felt that Eugene had lived up to that, in fact, I'd been fairly disappointed so far. Tonight changed that in a big way. My wife, parents, and I had dinner at Marché.  

Dinner was superb!  All of us thoroughly enjoyed it.  The atmosphere was great - clean, crisp, yet warm, and relatively casual.  We had reservations and were seated promptly at a nice corner table.  Our waitress was great, and was helpful with the wine choices.  She knew the wines on their list quite well, as well as knew California vs. Oregon characteristic differences and other points that helped.  

We started off with some great cocktails, and placed our order:
  • My mom: Heirloom tomato and goat cheese salad, side of chard to split with my dad, and the fresh, Chinook salmon.
  • My dad: Heirloom tomato and goat cheese salad, and the pork chops.
  • My wife: Trio of bruschetta for appetizer, and then she went for the heirloom tomato salad, side of onion rings, and side of beans with bleu cheese, for her entrée.
  • Myself: Breaded/fried oysters, and the duck.
First off, the heirloom tomato salad was absolutely outstanding, all of us couldn't stop raving.  The tomatoes were perfect, the goat cheese was outstanding, and at the proper temperature, and the light dressing was killer (so good we asked how they made it, and plan to try to reproduce it at home :)  I ate a chunk of my wife's salad, and again, just stellar.
The fried oysters were ok, and are something sort of unusual for me anyway.  I think slightly lacking in flavor, but honestly, with all the other awesome food we had, it was fine, and we ate them all.

As for the entree's, all of them were excellent.  My mom loved her salmon, and I tried the pork which was very good - very juicy and tender, so often restaurants dry out pork, but not at all in this case.  Also, the grilled peaches that went with it were a really great match, and a nice change from the the more typical apples.  

The duck I had was hands down the best duck I've had in as long as I can recall.  I don't order duck all that often, but had it recently in the Bay area, and it was pretty average on that occasion.  The duck came sliced, rare, with a extremely tasty crust around the edges, and in the most wonderful sauce!  Everyone was going nuts for the sauce, and in fact, we had them bring a little extra bowl for dipping the onion rings, as we found that a great combo :)  The sauce was the perfect amount too - by no means swimming in it, but also, enough to coat some of the potatoes and chard.

Speaking of chard, yes, we had a lot, given two of our entrees came with it, and we had two sides.  It was so darn good though that we ate nearly all of it, and took the remainder home.  Perfectly cooked, great seasoning, oh, just so good.  I wish I had more room, as I'd have finished it off.

Finally, we managed to save enough room to have some dessert.  My dad and I split the cheese plate, and my wife had the creme brulee.  First, thank you Marché for not putting berries in the creme brulee!  Very good.  The cheese plate had a small serving of the same goat cheese used on the heirloom tomato salad, and a Camembert I particularly liked.  Given the intent for this to be a dessert for one person, it was a good portion, but since we split it, I'd probably have liked to have one more cheese (not that our stomachs needed it!).  We also had some espresso.

The food was so good, I almost forgot we had wine.  Aside from a glass of malbec we sent back (and indeed, the waitress had told us it wasn't the best), the cab was good.  We had wound up going with just wine by the glass, as honestly, their wine prices are quite high - even by California standards.  They had a fair number of good wines, but with cocktails, and the prices of the wine, we just decided to skip it.  I guess that would be about my only knock.  Aside from that, outstanding.  Definitely the best meal I've had in Eugene, and Marché gets my vote as the best restaurant in town (that I've been to so far anyway). I would highly recommend it.

Update: I also posted this review here on Yelp. I'm finding Yelp more useful for restaurant reviews than say Eugene Weekly's food thing.


Tabitha Eck said...

I am sorry to hear you haven't had much success with Eugene restaurants. Despite owning and working in a restaurant 5 to 7 days a week, my husband and I make it a priority to eat out whenever we can - a bit of a busman's holiday I guess. Here are a few of our downtown favorites, each for a different reason - Lucky Noodle for atmosphere, freshly prepared food and fresh squeezed fruit juice cocktails, Mazzi's for great handmade Italian, Koho Bistro for trendy atmosphere, late night music and great food, Adam's Place for out-of-this-world entrees (but can only afford once a year), and LaVelle Bistro for Jazz on the Patio, appetizers and wonderful wine. Some places are definitely date night instead of family outing. Hope this helps!

Chris said...

I've now been in Eugene over a year, and have hit many more restaurants. And in fact, last night created a new top dog: Belly. This is a new place, right on 5th across from Vaquero. Flat out outstanding! It is a no-frills place (no tablecloths, paper napkins), but damn if the food isn't out of this world. If you go, you MUST order the pork reillons, the pork belly was stunning, and the pork sausage (getting the idea?) was the best I've ever had. This is a whole new bar/level. My buddy from San Francisco joined me and he was raving as well (and he frequents all the top places in SF, so that's saying something).

I also recently went to Red Agave which I thought was excellent, and would go again easily.

Anonymous said...

Just ran across your blog and your review on Yelp. I am similarly in love with Belly (and Marche), but I can afford to love Belly more. I also wrote a review about Belly on my blog a little bit ago. Its here... http://ourhomeworks.wordpress.com/2008/11/21/mmmm-belly/

Good to see another Eugene foodie.

Chris said...

Amy, yes, indeed, Belly is great. I'm taking my wife tomorrow night in fact. Another one you should definitely try is Black Rabbit. I'd actually say that's my favorite in Eugene right now. It's a French bistro-style place over in the Willamette & 29th shopping center - took over the space where Asado used to be. I didn't like Asado, but Black Rabbit is stellar (see my Yelp review). It's real, no dumbing down for Americans (read: no ketchup for their awesome fries :) just great food, whether for lunch or dinner. I've only been for dinner once, but it's a favorite lunch spot when you have enough time (it's not quick, but that's not a complaint, just a note).