Local Flavours from Marben!
One of my favourite things to do is to venture into smaller, non-chain restaurants in Toronto. My husband always seems to be able to find out where the good places to eat are. For my upcoming birthday we stopped by Marben on Wellington Street. They offer local ingredients which is always a bonus.
The restaurant had a lot of greenery and a nice patio outside. We got in a little before the opening time, so we took a walk and came back when they were officially open at 5pm. The décor was very eclectic and homey which made it inviting and relaxing. The wall behind the host stand was an old looking outfit in glass. The entrance ceiling was dangling with mason jars. Every bit of the wall and ledge were covered in items that looked like it was from a yard sale. Even the bathrooms were quirky with large copper like tubs as sinks!
As we browsed the menu, we were very inclined to try the 4 course tasting menu that offered dishes from the Michelin star restaurant, Simply Fosh, in Spain. In order to have the tasting menu, everyone at the table had to order it. The price for the tasting menu was quite reasonable at $39 per person.
The service staff was quite professional but reserved. The gentlemen that served us had amazing bartending skills. We had the booth right next to the bar it was like we were first row in a bartending competition. His skills and actions were precise and entrancing.
The timing of the food was perfect. First course was marinated tuna with argan, roasted red peppers and preserved lemon. This dish was a great start to the meal. Light and clean on the palate. The flavours worked very well together. I love raw fish and I loved how the flavours were simple so that it did not over shadow the great tasting tuna.
Shortly after we finished the first course, the server cleared our plates and set new cutlery. Little touches like this is very nice and makes a huge difference. The second course was my favourite. Seared scallop a la mallorquina with vanilla-potato parmentier, pine nuts & sultanas. The server brought the plate out and poured the sauce on the plate. I really tasted some almonds or amaretto in the sauce. The scallop was so tender and sweet and worked great with the sauce.
My husband liked the third dish the best. Truffle & anis glazed beef – pea truffle, bacon and spring onion. The beef was cooked beautifully and it fell apart delicately as we devoured it. The chunky pieces of bacon tasted so good with a forkful of spring onion and beef. This course was very satisfying.
Dessert was an interesting one. We had chocolate & olive oil truffle with roasted red pepper, raspberry, flor de sal. The chocolate truffle was intensely rich. Almost too rich to finish but I cannot resist chocolate. The way they garnished with red peppers was very unique. The consistency of the red peppers was jelly like and the sweetness of the peppers and raspberries cut through the richness of the chocolate truffle very well. On the top of the truffle there was some salt which is one of my favourite pleasures of “sweet and salty”. This dessert was not my favourite and I do not think I would order it off the menu regularly.
Different wait staffed brought out the courses and I would have loved if they described it more and offered answers when we had questions about ingredients and the flavours we tasted. They were very brief in terms of description and sometimes none was given at all. For me, part of making the dining experience whole does include exceptional service. I feel like it was lacking this a little bit.
Overall, the food and service was good. I would consider going back but it would not be on the top of my list. If I did visit again, I would definitely try something off the regular menu. It was a nice relaxing birthday meal and now I have experienced a Michelin star meal!
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