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Jacques Gastreaux

Marcel's, Robert Wiedmaier's Fine-Dining Flagship in West End with Chef Paul Stearman, Pastry Chef Ashleigh Pearson, and the Great Maitre d' Adnane Kebaier

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My wife and son took me out for my birthday to Marcel's (meaning I took me out for my birthday.)

Robert Wiedmaier named the restaurant for his son and serves wonderful French food with a Flemish influence. The restaurant is quite pretty, very formal in some ways, and not at all noisy.

I made the reservation on OpenTable.com and told them that I was bringing a bottle of wine with me (I had called to check and was told the corkage fee was $25) as I was celebrating my birthday. I also said I wanted no fuss. When I arrived I was welcomed, told Happy Birthday, and no more was said about it. We were shown to a very nice table, Ramon Narvaez (the sommelier) brought me a wine list and then returned with a decanter for the wine. (I brought a 2002 Martinelli Blue Slide Pinot Noir). I ordered a half bottle of the 2004 Sancerre Domaine Merlin-Cherrier Loire Valley to start and to have with appetizers.

The amuse bouche was an asparagus mousse with chives. It was very tasty (Jake made sure that he got every bit and I had to tell him to put it down before he scraped a hole into the side of the dish.) Jake ordered Gratin of Mussels with Roasted Garlic Cream Fondue of Tomatoes and Baby Spinach to start. They were delicious. Karen had the Pan Seared Diver Scallops with Fennel Puree, Red Pepper Essence and Applewood Smoked Bacon. Two very large scallops with an excellent sauce. I ordered the Belgian battered soft shell crabs with tomato puree and frizee. It was huge and very good. We ordered a couple of glasses of wine to go with the appetizers as we had finished the Half we had ordered previously and did not want to start on the Pinot yet. (A Neyers Chard for me, a Marsanne-Viognier Grange des Rouquette Vin de Pays d'Oc for Karen, though Jake ended up drinking most of it since she wanted the rest of his Sancerre.)

For our entrees Karen ordered the Veal Osso Bucco with a Melange of Wild Forrest Mushrooms, Yukon Gold Potato Puree, and Zinfandel Sauce. It was very tasty but the meal was a little stringy. Good flavor however and a huge portion with a very large marrow bone. Jake and I both ordered the Filet of Beef with Foie Gras, Yukon Gold garlic mashed potatoes and Cabernet Jus. It was fork tender and prepared just as we ordered (rare for me, Blue for Jake). They went wonderfully with the Pinot Noir.

We ended with a Lemon Souffle with strawberry ice cream for me, a trio of sorbets (honeydew, rasberry, and mango) for Karen, and a Chocolate mousse with rasberry center and cinnimon ice cream for Jake. Coffee for Karen and I, espresso for Jake ended the meal.

Service was wonderful, the water glasses were always full and the bread plates always replentished with wonderful warm french bread. All in all and excellent meal. The comped the corkage fee since I had bought wine from the list. Valet parking was $8 (plus tip). The meal was not inexpensive as the appetizers ranged from $13 to $17, and the entrees were about $40 each, but it was a very good experience. We left very full and I did not want to get up this morning, but what the heck, you only have a birthday once a year.

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Does anyone know if Marcel's has any semi-private or private dining options that can accomodate a party of around 15 people? I am thinking of taking some clients to dinner there at the end of October who will be staying near by.

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Alan-- I went to a private function about 4 years ago at Marcel's. It was in the back of the restaurant, separated by velvet curtains... (memory is really foggy). Why don't you give them a call and see what they can do? Our groups was probably larger than 15 though.

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Does anyone know if Marcel's has any semi-private or private dining options that can accomodate a party of around 15 people? I am thinking of taking some clients to dinner there at the end of October who will be staying near by.

My wife organized a large-ish dinner at Marcel's, and they just put tables together in the front of the restaurant. The room in the back is more than big enough for a party of 15, as well. Have fun!

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I have been to Marcel's for about a dozen events. These have been held in both the front and the back room. They never miss a beat, the food is as good as I have had dining there with a small party, the service is very professional, and they do an excellent job with the wine service (including decanting the wines hours ahead of time for us).

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Last night after a wine event I was a member of a large group of people that descended on Marcel's. To feed this unexpected horde, Robert put together a wonderful buffet. The mashed potatoes and beef stew were the standouts. Because one member of the group is very allergic to gluten Robert did not thickened the stew, this allowed the flavors and texture of the veal stock he used to shine through. As a general rule, I am not a fan of buffets, but then again, I have never had one at Marcel's or been served the food by Robert Weidmaier.

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Rocks writes:

it was the transition into cooked food where the problems began (although in fairness, Robert Wiedmaier was not in the restaurant), Creamy Polenta with poached egg, (it was an eggy evening) wild mushrooms, and shaved parmesan was heavy and reductive, and Ravioli of Duck Confit with green peppercorn sauce ($16) had terrific pasta, but the terribly fatty confit was cold, and the peppercorn sauce was herbaceous and dull, Marcel's is still a very good restaurant, and a warm, welcoming place to dine, but the food itself is a shadow of what it was several years ago

It would appear that Don is more in the Sietsema camp than the Kliman camp when it comes to Marcel's, although Don uses Wiedmaier's absence as a sort of excuse for less than stellar food, while Sietsema identifies his frequent absence as the (implied, anyway) reason for Marcel's's absence from the last dining guide. Meanwhile, Kliman puts Marcel's in the top ten (at number 9), just ahead of Komi. Did Wiedmaier happen to be in the kitchen every time Kliman or his crew dined there? I last dined at Marcel's quite a few months ago, and Wiedmaier was not in the kitchen, but the food was superb (although at this point I don't remember what I ate). I've been itching to dine there again, but I want the Kliman experience, not the Sietsema/Rockwell one (at those prices).

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My husband and I went to Marcel's for dinner last night. We arrived a little early and enjoyed a drink at the bar. There was a crowd there leaving for the Kennedy Center so it was quite busy. We were seated promptly at 8. We always ask for Jonathan, the Captain for our server. He is absolutely the best. Chef was in the kitchen so we decided to go with the 6 course tasting. It is different from the tasting menu you see online, except for the duck with the puy lentils. In fact the regular menu right now is alot different from the one online, I guess due to it being winter season. Marcels was offering a stuffed squash blossom with salmon mousse as an appetizer and since I had never had a stuffed blossom asked to substitiute for one of the other courses of the tasting (sweetbread and snail something). This was absolutely one of the best dinners I have ever had. We also asked Jonathan to pair each course with a wine. We ended up only doing 4 glasses each during the tasting, as I already had 2 glasses of champagne prior to dinner. I can't remember the details, but for courses we had diver scallops, red snapper, squash blossum, the duck, a cheese course (camembert with black truffle in the middle, it was a little too ripe for me), and dessert and coffee. We spent a leisurely 3 1/2 hours there. Our total came to $290 before tip. This included 2 glasses of champagne, and 8 glasses of wine. The 6 course tasting is $98 and the meal was amazing. Chef came into the dining room and stopped at all the tables, we always enjoy talking to him. His new restaurant, Beck's, is set to open in April and will offer bistro style cuisine. While we were there we made reservations for Valentine's Day, they are doing a special menu for $125 ea. Reservations have already been cut off through open table, if anyone is interested in attending, you should call the restaurant. We highly recommend the tasting menu.

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My wife and I took my parents to Marcel's for dinner on Easter Sunday. They were visiting from Washington State and it was my mom's 70th birthday. It was a warm and intimate family meal that I think we will remember for quite some time, not least because of Marcel's impeccable service and top-flight cuisine.

We were seated in the area just off to the left of the foyer, but the cold draft that day proved irksome to my parents, so before ordering we asked to be moved to a different table. This presented no difficulties, and we were re-seated at an intimate corner table in the lower level of the dining room.

The amuse was a cup of concentrated seafood consommé that was the perfect thing to take the edge off the cold evening. We passed over the tasting menu for the most part, as the regular a la carte menu looked even more interesting to us. I started with a seared Maine diver scallop, simply but beautifully presented on a vegetable puree (fennel, if I remember) with a bit of veal jus. The dish was perfectly executed in every way. My dad had an interesting gratin of mussels in an Aurore-like tomato cream sauce that was the epitome of judicious flavoring and presentation (the porcelain at Marcel's seems custom-designed for every dish it contains). The ladies, meanwhile, had a roasted beet salad with Pipe Dreams chevre, which was a burst of color on the plate, garnished with a confetti of carefully diced shallots and chive. I didn't taste this dish but it received raves from those who did. I also had a second appetizer, the boudin blanc served with root vegetable purée and veal jus. Tender, airy, juicy, and deeply flavored with its perfect garnishes, it was a dish I knew I would order even before I arrived, and it did not disappoint.

The mains were, for my parents, seared Alaskan Halibut in a Matelote sauce, while my wife had seared Ahi Tuna garnished with a small risotto. I had an item from the specials menu: roasted breast of pheasant with leg confit served with a few haricots verts and in a veal jus with cream or a purée of some sort. The pheasant was cooked to absolute perfection, still juicy and slightly pink but also still hot, and the confit was judiciously seasoned. The Halibut and Tuna met with equal admiration.

It should be clear by now that there was nothing especially innovative or original about these preparations, unless you consider traditional French cuisine prepared to an extremely high standard something innovative and original. These days, that is an argument I could easily subscribe to.

Except for the Tuna, the dishes cried out for Red Burgundy. We had a Nuits-St.- Georges Premier Cru from Confuron that was one of those wines that restore your faith in Red Burgundy and make you realize that there is nothing in the world, when all is said and done, that can possibly beat a worthy representative of this region. The wine was served at the perfect temperature.

Desserts, a chocolate soufflé of ethereal airiness, a crepe Suzette presented in a releve with vanilla-bean ice cream, were all jewels of sweetness, loving presentation, and good taste. My dad asked simply for vanilla ice cream with a shot of Grand Marnier on the side; he was presented with three quenelles of vanilla-bean ice cream sitting on a plate that looked like it had been specially designed for the purpose, garnished with mint leaves and berries, with a little pitcher of Grand Marnier. Toward the end of the evening we were comped several glasses of Champagne, though I had made no mention of my mom's birthday.

Service at Marcel's, from FOH to walking out the door at the end of the evening, is in a class by itself. This is the only restaurant I have been to in the Washington area where the waiters appear to have had the same exacting and systematic training of their colleagues in France. But this professionalism is also combined with a warmth and generosity that indicate a true concern for the well-being of the guest. We all were quite overwhelmed by the consummate professionalism of all who served us. It was largely for this reason that our dinner went beyond an evening of excellent food and drink and became a truly convivial family celebration that we will remember for a long time to come. We had the impression that many other people at Marcel's that Easter evening were having a similar memorable experience.

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Hmmm... one of the top restaurants in the city, and no posts about the food in over nine months? I have reservations for Wednesday - I'll make a point of reporting back. In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions for "can't miss" dishes, I'd love to hear them.

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Hmmm... one of the top restaurants in the city, and no posts about the food in over nine months? I have reservations for Wednesday - I'll make a point of reporting back. In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions for "can't miss" dishes, I'd love to hear them.

Boudin blanc--I think it's always on the menu in one form or another.

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Help me out - Have a reservation for next Saturday night and really looking for a place to impress.

I am assuming but really double checking, the experts are on here help out a friend -

This would be a coat and tie restaurant? Really would like a place that says romance in the air.

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It is certainly a coat and tie restaurant and my wife finds it to be quite romantic, and it will certainly impress.

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Help me out - Have a reservation for next Saturday night and really looking for a place to impress.

I am assuming but really double checking, the experts are on here help out a friend -

This would be a coat and tie restaurant? Really would like a place that says romance in the air.

You will have a wonderful time there. The Maitre d', Adnane, is extremely charming. Ramon, the sommelier is great and very helpful. Ask for a quiet table. Tasting menu is the way to go. Have fun!

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The fact that this topic is still on it's first page, with the first post 3 years ago, is a shame of gargantuan proportions.

My wife and I dined here this evening, as a substitute for Valentine's Day. I can honestly say that, save for the night we got engaged at Jean Louis nearly 17 years go, this was probably the finest meal from top to bottom we have ever had in DC, in the 20+ years we have lived in the area.

Service, from the valet parking in front of the restaurant, all the way through the meal and back to the valet, was perfect. I mean, not great, perfect. Not a thing could have been done better. My wife was suffering from a sore throat and a fractured tailbone (goddamned ice storm), and she was simultaneously treated like a princess, and not made to feel like they were fawning over her.

The menu on the website is close to what we were presented, so feel free to follow along at home. As this was a special occasion, and we had a gift certificate from my boss as a holiday bonus, we elected to go whole hog with the seven course tasting menu. I would say that on another occasion we might go with 4 or 5 courses, but I can't think of any course that I would like to delete! When we indicated that we wanted all 7 courses, and weren't running for a show, the waiter made sure to indicate that he would pace us to about 2.5 hours, and if we wanted to go slower or faster at any point, to just say the word. We didn't make such a request all through the meal, never felt either rushed or ignored, and we were out the door in exactly 2 hours 40 minutes.

While looking at the menu, I decided to grab a glass of bubbly, and my wife just wanted hot tea. I should point out that during the meal they brought her a new pot of hot water 3 times, and a new tea bag twice (and not the cheap shit, but good tea), but only one charge appeared on the bill. I don't see the rose sparkler that I had on the glass list, but I will say that for $10 I was served a ridiculously large pour (par for the evening).

For the first course, my wife went for Caramelized Chestnut Soup, Black Trumpet Mushrooms, and I had Gáteau of Crab, Aged Sherry Shallot Butter (from the second course on the website menu). When we ordered the soup, the waiter made sure to point out that the soup contained bacon as well - was this ok? OK? We're talking bacon here, and we're Jewish. Better than ok, it's beautiful. And the soup was too, containing the pure essensce of chestnuts, earthy mushrooms, and of course, beautiful bacon. I shouldn't shortchange the crab, which was essentially the French interpretation of a crab cake, which was sweet, ethereal, and rich.

Since my wife was not drinking, I was relegated to pours by the glass for the evening. I wanted something white but not fruity for the second and third courses. Our waiter pushed aside the "by the glass" list, and poured me a 2005 Cháteau Graville Lacoste Graves. $50 on the bottle menu - he charged me $12 for a ridiculously large pour, which he then topped off with the third course. This was to be the theme for the evening - get Daniel sloshed.

For the second course, I had the Seared Scallop, Yellow Wax Bean Risotto. A perfectly seared scallop, nearly gelatin in the center, laid upon a bed of "risotto", made from wax beans. Playful and yet classic, this was one of the evening highlights. My wife went for a Salmon Ravioli, which I don't see on the online menu. The pasta was perfectly cooked, and while I thought my taste was a tad fishy, my wife disagreed and nearly licked the plate clean.

Next, I had the Roasted Alaska Black Cod, Pink Grapefruit & Ginger. While I thought the cod was served beautifully, nicely crisped on the outside, and the grapefruit/ginger combo was brilliant, I thought the cod could have had a bit more flavor. My wife says that I am just on drugs, and it tasted just like cod to her. She selected a Dover Sole that I don't see on the menu, but disappeared before I could get a taste.

With the meat courses approaching, I again placed myself in the hands of the waiter for a glass of something red. I don't see it on the online wine list, either by the bottle or glass, but it was a 2004 Australian Shiraz that was spicy, not too fruity, and worth far more than the $15 he poured it for.

For the first meat course, I could not avoid the Marcel's Classic Boudin Blanc. It's a freaking blend of various animal fats, stuffed in a tube and crisped. If you don't love this, get the hell out of town. It took all of my love for my wife to share this with her, though her veal cheeks over polenta, laid on a bed of mushroom-stuffed spinach didn't exactly suck.

Next my wife went with the Pepper Encrusted Bison Entrecôe, Bordelaise Sauce. This is what beef should taste like - f*ck the corn-fed crap that we're served elsewhere. Thank god she agreed to share it with me. I had a roasted squab breast that was a different preparation than the website menu. It was served medium rare over an israeli couscous with a red wine reduction and sauteed greens of some variety - my memory, along with the copious pours of booze, were failing me at this point.

For the cheese course, we shared some Humbolt Fog and Saint Andre. Don't ask me about the accompaniments with the cheese - by the time he brought over a "taste" (really, a full pour) of Sauternes for the HF and a 40-year-old Tawny Port for the Saint Andre, I was pretty well shitfaced.

But not so much that I didn't appreciate my Valrhona Chocolate Mouse Tower, Raspberry Coulis, or my wife's Passionfruit cheesecake, nor the French Press coffee that came along with it.

Again, service was picture perfect, and the Sauternes, Port, coffee, tea refills, and wine topoffs did not appear on the bill, though my 30% gratuity did.

You are kidding yourself if you believe that you are dining at the finest places in the city, but you have not yet been to Marcel's.

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I was at Marcel's last weekend celebrating early Valentines day. I have to say that I was looking for a restaurant to impress and it went above and beyond exceeding my expectations.

We did the four course meal and it was plenty. I could not imagine doing the full seven courses since we were very full from the four courses. I cannot remember the wine we were drinking but we asked for help and were very happy with the selections (left with a pretty good buzz too - Fortunately no DC police that night)

Each item was better than the next. From the lobster bisque all the way through the chocolate souffle. The souffle was done PERFECTLY. Lately when I have had a souffle, it is either overdone or underdone and just garbage inside. This was a perfection taste of chocolate and light airy texture.

And I will agree that the service was right on, never felt ignored and never felt bothered.

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The fact that this topic is still on it's first page, with the first post 3 years ago, is a shame of gargantuan proportions.

Actually, I am not that surprised that it has not generated a lot of posts. I went there last November with a friend. We had a great meal. The service was excellent, the food very well prepared, the setting very nice. It was well worth the price, and for certain kinds of special meals I would consider going back. That said, I was not overwhelmed and there were no surprises. It lacked a certain spark.

A few weeks ago I went to Brasserie Beck and was surprised and impressed. The chorizo mussels are still kicking around in my memory. Despite the fact that it is not as refined, Beck is more interesting. (it could have been the beer).

If I go back to Marcel's I would take the suggestion of the tasting menu which might provide the kitchen with a chance to sparkle. When I checked in tonight I noticed the thread immediately below the one on Marcel's was the one asking what places excited you recently. There is something to be said for doing something specific and doing it well, but in being reliable perhaps the "exciting" element is lost.

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There is something to be said for doing something specific and doing it well, but in being reliable perhaps the "exciting" element is lost.

I agree that Marcel's is not "exciting" but what I love about it is the "Old World" feel that it generates. Impeccable service, great food, good wine, beautiful room, what else could one ask for in this type of restaurant.

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I agree that Marcel's is not "exciting" but what I love about it is the "Old World" feel that it generates. Impeccable service, great food, good wine, beautiful room, what else could one ask for in this type of restaurant.

I had a fantastic meal at Marcel's last Thursday evening. I was in town for a conference and dined here alone and was treated like a queen from the moment I walked in the door. I had 5 courses, each delicious (lobster bisque, boudin blanc, foie gras, squab and chocolate souffle) and while not particularly "surprising" the quality of the ingredients and the technique of the kitchen shone through in every course. The meal was served at a perfectly leisurely pace, the servcie was beyond excellent, I had a fabulous table, and the room was packed by 7:00 making for great people watching. I would definitely return, especially for a special occasion.

I had reservations at Central for Sunday evening but, unfortunately, had to leave town early so I missed the chance to dine there. Having tried at Citonelle last time I was in town (fabulous with lots of creative surprises) Central and Beck are at the top of my list for next time.

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I celebrated my birthday with Pete on Sunday with dinner at Marcels. We arrived early and the place was empty. But they were ready for us and took us to our table. I was beginning to think we were their only guests for Sunday dinner but others did start arriving as well as a big party of doctors being wooed by a pharaceutical company, our waiter informed us as they walked by.
Our waiter was Johnathan and he was fantastic. He brought us some complementary champagne (for my birthday) to start off the evening. After some mishaps with our water (flies doing the backstroke is both water glasses) we finally made a decision on dinner - 5 courses. We were happy when Jonathan mentioned they could do a sampler on the cheese course as that was what we wanted. For those who are not familiar the menu is broken up into 5 courses, a cheese course and a dessert course. You can pick to do 3, 4, 5, or 7 courses-or they also offer an a la carte feature where you can get one appetizer and then one of the fish or meat courses doubled as an entrée.

I probably picked the heaviest dish from each course. That's just what sounded good to me.

First Course - I had the Mussels Gratin - good and rich as expected in a gratin. Nothing to wow me but good. Pete had the Trio of Scallop - the scallop ceviche he says was the best single bite of the night; vibrant and fresh scallop with citrus and a little corn in a phyllo cup. Needless to say he didn't share.

Second Course - I had the Duck Confit and Sweetbread Lasagne - sounded interesting and it's hard for me to pass up sweetbreads. It was interesting, the filling had a gelatinous feel but was good. I couldn't pick out the duck or the sweetbreads flavor on their own but the dish overall was good. Pete had the Boudin Blanc which was good but overwhelmed by the mushroom sauce. Johnathan had described it well but I was still caught by surprise by the texture. I don't expect "sausage" to be light and airy.

Third Course - I had the Lamb "Wellington" - not the true name of the dish but how it was described. I wish the filling and lamb were better incorporated or that the phyllo crust didn't fall apart so easily. It was hard to get a bite of everything onto my fork. The lamb was a perfect medium rare. The sauce was very rich which I found overpowering the more I ate. But I was also getting full at this point.

Pete had the Roulade of Rabbit with Carrot Ginger Reduction - he says this was a terrific dish that got better with each bite; the sauce was a perfect compliment to the roulade.

Fourth Course - Cheese Sampler - I was disappointed not to see Epoisses on the menu as it was on their online menu. But the cheeses they did have were great-except for the cheddar. That was the waxiest piece of cheese I've ever eaten. Unfortunately I don't remember the name but we commented that we think we also had it at City Zen-although I think it was edible there. The blue cheese had a layer of apricots on it that should have been much thinner. I had to push them off so I could enjoy the cheese.

Fifth Course - Dessert - I had the Triple Chocolate Brownie with passion fruit sauce and chocolate sorbet. The passion fruit was a great tart punch to break through all the chocolate. The brownie was ok but made better by the layer of ganache and another layer-maybe a mousse (?) on top. The chocolate sorbet was so rich. It was good but I'm not a huge fan of chocolate ice cream or sorbet.

Pete had the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake - This was fantastic-as I can remember from only one bite. It would have been a better ending to my heavy meall.but that was my mistake.

Overall, the food was enjoyable but nothing wowed us. The sauces were rich (as I know French sauces are supposed to be with all that butter) and sometimes overpowering.

The service was excellent! Very attentive but not overbearing. Johnathan also brought us a glass of a late-harvest sauvignon blanc from Chile that was excellent with the cheese and dessert. We would definitely go back.

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I had heard from a friend with a more refined palate that mine that Marcel's might have lost a step, what with Wiedmaier distracted by the the bushels of cash one assumes that Beck is raking in, but an accidental visit Saturday night -- apparently they no longer offer the bar menu in the bar -- suggested otherwise.

Mrs. B and I were trying to compensate for Cafe du Parc's inaccurate website -- the Breton dinner is no longer available, regardless of the menu posted prominently on their home page -- and figured we'd hit Marcel's for the cut-rate bar menu and maybe something just for a treat off the regular card. Sadly, the bar menu has gone the way of the buffalo (though we were told that Gruyere "pizza" can be had if one asks politely) and so we said "fuck it" since it was the first date night in weeks and ordered off the regular menu.

The thing I like about French bistro cooking is its rich, unctuous wonderfulness nd the dinner at Marcel's was kind of the same thing, only raised to an etherial level. When you sip a spoonful of the celeriac soup with pheasant rillette raviolies, you're not really picking out the different flavors comparing and contrasting in your mouth. You're simply saying "holy freeking Jesus" and arm-wrestling your significant other for another slurp. Snails and a garlic creme brulee...who knew? Spectacular. Nothing tests a kitchen like a delicate fish and the turbotin/grey sole (I think) in a bit of buerre blanc featured a crisped surface and just-warmed interior that both crunched and melted. Even better than an excellet lamb tenderloin in phyllo.

Desserts were kind of OK, but by then we hardly cared. Whatever regret we had about not dining in the dining room with its legendary service (because we thought that we were going to get that bar menu) were overcome by the excellent piano player, who will break out some serious stride if you ask politely. Our bartender, whose name I forgot to get, was charming and elegant, and had a bit of industry gossip to share as well.

All in all, a brilliant meal, perfectly calibrated for a cold night.

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The wife and I had a great meal at Marcel's on Friday. We did the 3 course Pre-Theater menu with wine pairings and were very happy with the food and the service and you get the added bonus of car service to and from the Kennedy Center. I started with the Diver Scallop, moved onto the Venison and finished up with the Butterscotch Creme Brulee (something I don't normal get, but this one was excellent). The wine parings were spot on as well.

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Marcel's is definitely one of the top three restaurants in the DC-Baltimore area (Sushi Sono and Tosca being the others).

My first experience was pretty solid (led by a memorable duck confit ravioli), but what really brought me back was the regal service by Rigaa. My second visit was one of the best dining experiences ever! Rigaa, made our divine dinner into a divine experience with his perfect recommendations, courteous service and informative explanations to all of our questions. In fact, it is Rigaa who provides the consistency in the restaurant's service.

First, my date and I were seated at a table in the perfect spot, facing the kitchen and sitting right next to each other (rather than across the table from each other), which made it perfect for sharing our meal.

All of the dishes we ordered were excellent, but we must point out the three that made the culinary experience absolutely superior (two of which were strong recommendations by Rigaa):

- Loup de Mer with Truffled Pommes and Chive Beurre Blanc: The fish was perfectly cooked, with a crisp skin and tender, flavor-packed meat. The pommes puree had a tasty infusion of truffle flavor, but still just subtle to complement the dreamy fish. The celery leaf garnish was the kiss of perfection.

- Lobster Bisque Encroute with Lobster Tartare: The texture of the lobster meat in the bisque was absolutely perfect, beautifully paired with the cool tartare, refreshing frisee, and fragrant cherry vinaigrette.

- Passion Fruit Cheesecake with Mango Sorbet: We savored every bite and angle of this dish, the perfect balance of form (beautiful presentation) and function (amazing taste). After devouring the sorbet, we divided up the two stories of cheesecake and delighted in dipping it into the lovely passion fruit-raspberry sauce. The fragrance and tartness of the sauce was balanced by the mellow cheesecake and hazelnutty tuile.

Our most recent visit was not nearly as magical, but still very solid. The Lamb Tenderloin in Phyllo was flavorful, tender meat harmonized with bitter chard, buttery crust, and rich cumin-madeira sauce, complemented by caramelized garlic, whipped potato and crisp; Grand Marnier Souffle with tangerine ice cream one of my favorite souffles ever; along with the delightful Petit Fours, these three were our favorite dishes.

The service was great, but we heard that Rigaa had left. For us, this is a bigger loss than the departure of the sommelier. A star like Rigaa may be tough to find, so hopefully Chef Wiedmaier can do so as soon as he gets comfortable with BRABO :P

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