- Cuisine: Californian, Mediterranean
- Location: 7465 Melrose Avenue - Los Angeles, CA 90046
- Pricing: $$
- What's delicious: Muddled-fruit cocktails, Mussels with Romesco and Sausage Broth
- Perfect for: Al-fresco dining - date night - group dining - cocktails
Situated within a sexy, hidden patio/garden behind Melrose Umbrella Co. and Greenspan's Grilled Cheese is Chef Greenspan's newest concept: Mare. And, speaking of concepts...While I do love a good trend/gimmick (i.e. a restaurant with a jewelry store and/or hardware shop facade), the logistics must be fairly user-friendly. Getting *IN* to Mare is tricky; guests have to meander through the grilled cheese shop - up a short flight of stairs - through the tiny kitchen - and beyond a heavy door to reach Mare's hostess stand. I can only imagine how annoyed the employees at the grilled cheese joint get every time someone asks to be pointed to "the new restaurant." All that aside, when we finally reached our destination, Ayano and I were greeted by an incredibly friendly hostess who led us to a two-top under a gorgeous canopy of trees and twinkling strewn lights.
While I loved the outdoor atmosphere (there is no interior seating, FYI), I found the menu to be a bit random and oddly organized. The first half listed appetizers and sides under the heading of "Plates," followed by two entrees - skirt steak or the whole fish - and "Shellfish." Finishing the menu, "Desserts" preceded "Drinks."
To whet our appetites, we were presented with a gratis, picturesque potpourri of pickled peppers, olives + pistachios + kumquats, a halved lemon, garlic olive oil, and two generous hunks of "everything" baguettes. While I found the halved lemon to be a bit of an odd addition, I really enjoyed the peppers, olives, kumquats, olive oil, and bread...although it wasn't as moist as I would have liked.
Shortly thereafter, our cocktails arrived. The menu offers a selection of wines and beer, plus a number of spirits muddled with a variety of fresh fruit and herbs. I opted for the tequila beverage which contained kumquats - among other citrus fruit - and, what appeared to be, basil leaves. I could not dreamt of a more refreshing, sweet'n sour, delightful summer cocktail! A++!
The first "Plates" to arrive were the Roasted Broccolini and one of the evening's specials: Scallop Crudo.
If you're a fan of the fragrant garlic bulb, the greens are a must order! Served atop a thick schmear of garlic paste, the roasted broccolini was crowned with fried garlic chips.
Thick slices of raw scallop were topped with green plums and briny sea greens, which perfectly accentuated the delicate oceanic flavor of the mollusk.
Forgoing entrees, Ayano and I each chose to order one of the customizable shellfish dishes. She opted for the shrimp with Vadouvan curry and I chose the mussels with a sausage/romesco broth. Our shellfish bowls were paired with a mound of naked spaghetti noodles and two shelled poached eggs. Random. I would have much preferred a crusty baguette to soak up the remaining broth (Right? I mean, traditionally, that's how I've eaten mussels. And you, too, no doubt.), but I decided to put my snobbery aside and give the egg and noodles a whirl. The mussels were plump and the sausage/romesco sauce was outstanding. When all that remained was broth, I added the spaghetti noodles and topped them with the freshly-cracked poached egg. I tossed the ingredients to combine and took a bite. "Aha," I exclaimed to Ayayno. "Now I get the whole noodle and egg thing! It's really yummy!" She smiled and nodded. My only complaint was that both the noodles and the egg were chilly, as they had a while to cool during the time that we ate our respective shellfish (Mare should present these items once the guest has *almost* finished their shellfish.).
For dessert, Ayano and I split the Blood Orange "Trifolo" - layers of semolina cake, fruit, and blood orange-curd - served in a mason jar. Cute, kitschy and, most importantly, delicious. A plate of rosemary shortbread accompanied.
Like many new successful restaurants, I suspect that the minor food hiccups at Mare will lessen with time, especially with uber-talented Chef Eric Greenspan at the helm.
Ayano and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and I look forward to returning in the future!
Lindsay, Beverly Hills Bites