I’ve been quite nostalgic for France lately. After spending a month there last year, I find myself looking at the thousands of pictures I took during this trip quite often. I was in Nice, Cannes, Marseille, Avignon, Lyon and Paris. Of all those cities; Marseille stole my heart. When I tell people this, I get frazzled looks of confusion. The typical response is “why?”.
I loved the grittiness of the city. I loved its people. I fell in love with the immigrants. I fell in love with Notre Dame de La Garde. Marseille Cathedral made me fall in Proskynesis. Seeing the fishing boats come into the harbor and all the restaurant owners shopping there prior to opening warmed my heart. The beaches, the hills. There was nothing about Marseille I did not love. I love this city so much more than Paris. If you have not been there, do yourself a favor and go.
But I digress. I am here to talk about a restaurant in Hells Kitchen: Marseille. I had contemplated going to this restaurant many times, but somehow I kept skipping it. Finally I walked in. The staff was friendly enough, we were promptly seated with a smile by our server. The place screams France. Mirrored areas with the names of French dishes. It most definitely had a bistro feel. Our server was friendly enough and we ordered a Chardonnay and a Rose Champagne. The wines were lovely, but my bubbly lacked perlage. Perhaps I got the end of the bottle.
I ordered the Moules Frites and Antonio ordered the grilled chicken sandwich. Before our food came out, we got a bread basket accompanied by a plate of butter surrounded by olive oil. I was ready for a good meal: delicious bread, which I could top with a mix of my favorite things. I was ready for delicious food.
I’ll discuss the mussels first. They were fine, edible but nothing special. The fries were good but not amazing. There are much better places to get mussels in NYC.
The chicken in the sandwich was dry. The brioche was stale. The peppers were fine. The sandwich was a disappointment. If they had used the bread from the basket, they could have had a much better dish.
Our server was lovely. Although we were not in love with the food, we stayed for an extra glass of wine (my second glass was a Chardonnay). While I may not return to Marseille for the food, I would definitely return for a drink.
I had recently gone to Todd English’s Ca Va and Millesime (I loved both of them). I have to admit that perhaps this could have clouded my Marseille experience. But I seriously don’t think so. The frites were better at Marseille than at Ca Va, but the food at Ca Va was significantly better and the price was not all that different.
That being said, I have been to Marseille’s sister restaurant “Nice Matin” and loved it….Perhaps I will give Marseille another try.
Marseille is located at 2315 Broadway, New York, NY(212) 333-4488