Friday, October 24, 2008

Restaurant Review: Marcel's

Marcel's is a French-Belgian restaurant in Washington, D.C. that has been open for a few years in the city's West End district. Until last week, I had never gotten around to eating there.

Maybe it was the bad taste in my mouth that lingered from my experiences with the previous tenant of this space -- a restaurant called Provence.

At Marcel's, dishes arrive in tapa-esque sizes. But I like the fact that you can order them in entree sizes if you prefer.

This is not a cheap place to dine. I think the five-course menu was about $75 without wine. Yet the quality of the food is extraordinary, and I'd say it's a pretty good value -- a definite splurge, but not overpriced. From start to finish, we had a wonderful meal. The desserts were okay, but slightly disappointing. But the first 4 courses we had were excellent and, in a few cases, amazing. The lamb with cumin and roast garlic was a tour de force.

The wine list has great French burgundies, but nearly every one of them has a sticker-shock price. The choices of Gigondas are much more reasonably priced.

The back room of Marcel's is carpeted so the cacophony of noise that was always annoying during the days of Provence is no longer. You don't have to shout to be heard by your dining partner.

Gayot's website rates Marcel's as a 16 out of 20 points, which is a very good score. However, I think the case could be made that Marcel's may be one of the top 3 or 4 restaurants in Washington, D.C. -- not quite as accomplished as Citronelle, but every bit as superb as Ten Penh or Tosca. I've only made one visit to Marcel's so perhaps I'm getting a little ahead of myself, but I am sure as hell looking forward to visit #2.

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