Shiny shells adorn the back wall of this sleek establishment on the first floor of a Relais et Chateaux property across from Central Park. Try saying the first part of that 5 times fast.
After riding through freezing traffic of hell to get here, I was happy to find the space open and warm.
Marea is known as one of the top seafood places, and somehow after all the oysters and lobster this weekend, I'm ready for more seafood!
Amuse bouche: scallops with white polenta foam 7/10: It was good, but didn't make much of a splash. It got me really hungry though... and I must say that it was a little overshadowed by the delicious and obviously oily olive bread.
Razor clam and geoduck crudos: 7/10:
Starting with the razor clam at the top. It didn't really strike me as anything special. I liked it because I've been craving razor clam all weekend, but it didn't come off as recently alive as I wanted... I also didn't understand the thin layer of cucumber on the bottom that caused more confusion than anything.
I love geoduck. It's one of the most nasty looking creatures ever, but it's so delicious and sweet and crisp. I have a sweet tooth even with seafood. My fellow foodie mentioned that she would have liked it more with a chili pepper instead of a bell pepper. I hadn't thought about that, and I must say that I agree. Some kick would have gone well with the sweetness.
Chestnut soup with mushrooms: 8/10: I think we got this just because it was so cold. The very words "chestnut" and "soup" warmed us up inside. The soup was delicious... the chestnut soup itself was almost bush-soup-delicious. the mushrooms were cooked in bacon fat and smoke and were a great surprise. It was a little heavy compared to the seafood, but... soup!
Octopus and bone marrow fusilli: 10/10 What a brilliant combination. I really loved this dish and can absolutely understand why it's a staple of the restaurant.
The bone marrow and red wine red sauce was just to die for. I could dip bread in this sauce all day long. It was rich and creamy and coated the perfectly al dente fusilli and tender octopus. I think I drooled a little just writing about it.
Lobster ravioli: 9/10: I'm going to go ahead and say that this is the best lobster ravioli I've had. This might be because somehow I keep either missing the lobster ravioli at Ciano or going with people who don't eat shellfish, but I can't think of any other place that might have a better lobster ravioli. My only complaint was that the ravioli skin was a little too hard around the edges.
They plated this with the fusilli, and I was just alternating, jamming, and having a great time. By the time I was done with the 2 pastas, I was so full that I could barely talk.
Turbot: 6/10: I was so full by the time this arrived that it tasted like a 5/10. I adjusted it up 1 because I figure that my stomach was biased to the pasta course before it. In any case, the skin was really crisp, loved the cabbage, the sour fruits on top were interesting and made the whole thing taste like haute-Thanksgiving, the grated something or the other was too grainy for me, but my fellow foodie liked it.... the fish was tender... but it came off as *so* fishy. I don't remember turbot ever being this fishy, so I finished less than I would have on a full stomach.
Overall, I think Marea is worth going to just for the pasta, and in particular the fusilli. As a matter of fact, I think I'm going to plan a trip there now. Perhaps I can find an excuse to go to Columbus Circle!