Monday, March 29, 2010

Marche Bacchus

On Sunday Ian and I went to another picture perfect lakeside brunch in Desert Shores, this time at Marche Bacchus. I am falling in love with this commecial center's 'restaurant row' each time we go, as I find it a much needed escape from our natural desert landscape (the desert has it's beauty, but the life that flourishes in and amongst this artificial oasis is a refreshing change). The beautiful weather this time of year certainly makes this particular outdoor eatery more appealing, but the food makes it worthy of a return no matter the season.

Although I have eaten at Marche Bacchus a handful of times within the past few years, I hadn't been back recently because the old chef seemed to let things slip. The new chef, however, has revived this hot spot for traditional French cuisine, and a decorator has stepped in and made the cafe/wine store into a place you can easily spend a few hours in. Since this location is becoming a popular place to host weddings, today we tried something old and something new, something cold and something, well, pink.

There were actually two something olds, the french onion soup ($8) and the moulles frites (or steamed mussels with fries, $15). The French onion soup was served traditionally in a brown and white clay bowl textured by crisp gruyere baked around its edges. The veal stock was rich and seemed salty at first, but as the soup began to cool from its bubbling state the flavors emerged revealing a layer of acidity we intially mistook for overseasoning. It was definitely one of those dishes that gets better and better the more you eat. Sadly, however, the moules weren't as impressive. Although the mussels were cooked well, the broth was weak and didn't coat them enough to give any additional flavor. It was served in the appropriate cast iron vessel, but this pot was really too small to allow you to get the liquid in each bite. The frittes on the other hand were teriffic, but I would have preferred a traditional aoli as an accompaniment rather than plain old American ketchup.

The something cold was the Lobster Avocado Croissant ($12), which was incredibly difficult to find any fault with. The buttery and golden brown croissant was light (can light be used to describe a croissant?), but despite this was not overpowered by the lobster filling. There is no mayonnaise used in the salad, according to the waiter, making the dish all the more impressive as there is a definite creaminess to it. The salad was composed of big chunks of lobster bound by less desirable (yet still tasty) knuckle meat enhanced with crunchy, finely chopped celery and shallots. It was served with a delicately dressed salad that upped the fresh factor and colored the plate.

The something new was the sake Bloody Mary ($9.50) Ian had, which rivaled that of Hash House for the best in town (note: they don't use vodka at March Bacchus because they only have a wine and beer license). This one doesn't have the jalapeno stuffed olives and tangy cornichons, but it does contain an ample amount of real horseradish that gives an unexpected punch, differing greatly from the usual tobasco and black pepper that give heat to most (think spiked cocktail sauce). The something pink was my Kir Royale ($8) which was a relative bargain but a touch on the sweet side for my taste. It didn't matter though, becuase the color looked so beautiful in contrast to the background of blue sky and green palm fronds (see below).

To top off the lovely meal, the service was wonderful. Our waiter even brought over a heat lamp to combat the mild, cool breeze without us having to ask. I could have done without the artificial strand of sunflowers that wrapped the bridge, but I guess the whole scene is fairly artificial so it didn't bother me too much. The ambiance actually adds tremendously to the meal, because despite the faux flowers and what not, you are surrounded by running water, several turtles, large carp, and the beautiful black swan you may remember from the Garfield's review. If you come here I insist you pick a day when the weather is just right and make the most of the money you're spending by lingering over a deliciously beautiful afternoon.

Today's Food Ratings:
French Onion Soup: 8.5
Avocado and Lobster Croissant: 8.5
Moules: 6.5
Frittes: 8

Today's Drink Ratings:
Bloody Mary: 9.5
Kir Royal: 7.5

Restaurant Rating: 8

Would we go back? OUI OUI

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