After all the fabulous reviews about the restaurant, my husband and I were looking forward to dining at Marmalade. We found the decor pleasing: a mixture of contemporary chic and subdued comfort. We chose the 4-course and 6-course dinners respectively. Mine consisted of pop-corn shrimp, golden beets, sea bass and coconut pineapple crisp. My husband had tuna tartare, ceviche, red beets, squash ramen, surf and turf (scallops and pork belly), and apple creme brûlée. We did not have paired wines but instead had glasses of Albariño and grenache blanc. Let me preface my review with this comment: opinions on food are inherently subjective. They are influenced by one’s culture, up-bringing, exposure, experiences and preferences. However, these factors also contribute to informed opinions. Marmalade’s creations were interesting and some were pretty good, but hardly superb. As we slowly wound our way through the courses, one recurring observation was that while each individual ingredient used to compose a dish might have been fresh, wonderful, and even impressive, there were too many of them tangled together, all fighting for attention. The end result was that they prevented the star ingredient to shine through. It’s like having too many brilliantly-clad and chattering bridesmaids around the demure bride who is in a simple monochrome gown, and who should have been the main focus but alas is diminished by the distraction. Or when you mix the seven beautiful colors of the rainbow (light), you just get plain white. Take the golden beet course. Each little round beet (there were 4 of them, pre-marinated in apple cider vinegar) is topped with hearts of palm, radish carpaccio, goat cheese and a marcona almond almost half the size of the beet itself. I was advised by the waiter to ‘eat the entire beet-pile like a sushi’ so as to experience the different tastes and textures at once. I love beets, and was expecting that wonderful earthy, slightly sweet taste of the golden beet to spread through my mouth, complemented perhaps by a tinge of smooth goat cheese. But I could not taste any distinctive flavor or experience distinctive textures, except the crunch of the almond. Astonishment was followed by disappointment. Similar experiences happened with the red beet course, the ‘ramen’ course, and the apple creme brûlée. The ceviche was better but the addition of avocado sullied the umami taste of the seafood. The scallops and accompanying vegetables and rice were very salty. The popcorn shrimp was cooked just right. The sea bass was good. The complementary white bean soup was delicious. The pineapple crisp was so-so. The portion sizes were perfect. We think a little restraint in integrating the ingredients may provide a more satisfying culinary enjoyment.
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