Review of Marjorie

2311 Second Avenue in Seattle

206 441 9842

UPDATE 11/29/04: Since our last visit Tyler Boring has left Marjorie. We will have to get back and see how things are doing.

We tried Marjorie because of the favorable review in the Seattle Times. We expected something good and something unusual. We were not disappointed in the least.

Marjorie is located in Belltown, on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Battery, in a neighborhood undergoing renovation and moving upmarket. Marjorie has a great looking bar and a good design. The restaurant is designed so you can actually talk, despite its lively look. The main dining area is around the corner from the bar and there is sound padding on the ceiling. This is a restaurant with something for everyone. There is even a garden outside for outdoor dining once the weather gets warmer.

To start with, the menu is fascinating. It seems that the entire world is cooking with ideas and ingredients from French, American, Chinese, Indian, and German cuisine. The wine list was small, but intriguing, with a lot of modestly priced bottles and glasses mainly from Washington State, the West Coast and France. We knew we were going to be happy.

Our appetizers confirmed this. We had the onion pakora, Indian style onion rings, with two dipping sauces: green coriander and smokey catsup. The deep fried onion rings were crisp and steamy and served hot. We also had the thin
cut plantain chips, seasoned with garlic and served with a pineapple-avocado guacamole. Was this really a guacamole, or was it a chutney, or was it something else? Whatever, it was wonderful. With the appetizers we started with the house sparkling wine, a delicious bargain in these days of $15 glasses. Unlike most champagne alternatives, it was toasty and dry, rather than sweet. The owner served it herself and even offered us a taste to make sure that we would enjoy it.

We moved on to what is likely to become Marjorie's signature dish, the fleur de sel roast chicken with crispy skin and a breath of star anise and vanilla. It was served with apple fritters, roast potatoes and a compote of cabbage, carroway and sour cherries. This was the best chicken we have eaten outside of France. The meat was hearty and flavorful, the skin melted in the mouth, the spicing was perfect. Every flavor contributed to this dish. There wasn't a gratuitous note. There is a temptation to just pile on the flavors, but at Marjorie, they layer them, so they all work together.

We almost ordered the curried eggplant, and briefly pondered the hanger steak, but we went with the barbequed pork ribs in a classic southern sauce, tangy and delicious. These were served with collard greens and a cassoulet of black eyed peas, that is, black eyed peas with a tender confit of pork. The accompanying corn pone was drenched with butter and caused us to swoon.

The wines were perfect for the food. We had a fruity pinot noir and a spicy blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and sangiovese. These were not "rip your lips off" wines. They were full of flavor, but they complemented rather than overwhelmed the food.

By now, we hated to leave. We were ready for dessert. We knew the rule: collard greens plus black eyed peas means great gooey desserts. We let the owner choose and she selected the ice creams and the brioche. There were three scoops. The best was the orange creamsicle, the vanilla was great and we even liked the lavender, which was delicate, not soapy. Once again, three very different flavors worked together.

The brioche brioche bread pudding was something special. It had a sweet caramel topping, a ton of ultra-rich organic whipped cream and there was plenty of caramel sauce with candied ginger to sop up with it. Thank heavens there was excellent coffee to revive us.

We spoke briefly with the owner, who moved west from Chicago, an excellent food town.  She radiated warmth and welcome and we had to agree that her 26 year old chef was working magic in the kitchen. We can't wait to go back.

Review: 17 May 2003

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