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“Unique dining experience”
Review of Marley's Cafe

Marley's Cafe
Ranked #3 of 17 Restaurants in Essex
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: American
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Reviewed April 16, 2014

Getting there is half the fun. It's on an island - really - and you get there by water taxi in a minute across a very narrow inlet. You can sit indoors but nearly everyone chooses to sit out on the lawn under an umbrella. What a great breakfast or brunch with an interesting a varied menu. Lunch and dinner also but the schedule varies seasonally. Listen to Bob Marley and other island tunes while you watch the boats go by.
Drive down Main Street in Essex Village and turn left on Ferry Street for parking. You will see the small ferry crossing on a continuous schedule.

1  Thank JackX729
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (96)
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76 - 80 of 96 reviews

Reviewed October 14, 2013

We had heard from friends in the Essex area that Marley's Octoberfest was lots of fun. !2 or so of us made a reservation and at the appointed time piled into the boat and went to Essex Island. It was a chilly evening, some clouds, but nothing odd for that time of year. Sadly for Marley's all the other reservations cancelled for fear of the weather. We had the whole place to ourselves. The people at Marley's were disappointed, to say the least. I suspect they lost quite a lot of money. But they treated us with style, fun, good humor and delicious food. All 12 or so of us had a great time keeping warm around the well stoked fire and all ate too much, I suspect. It was a delightful evening and we were all very well cared for.
It was the first night of the Fest, so I hope the following nights were as good for Marley's as the first was for us.
We look forward to doing it again next year.

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1  Thank CasaUmile
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 20, 2013

My wife and I took the 30 second ferry in historic Essex CT to the small island where Marley's sits. Based on the recommendation of a friend who had enjoyed lunch here, we looked forward to a fun dinner. The setting is wonderful: the CT River, beautiful sailboats, outdoor dining and a full moon. The chef came out to greet us and after a few minutes, he suggested we move to a table with a better view. Everything was looking up! Unfortunately, the rest of the experience was bland at best. The dinner experience was about as much Jamaican as my bald head is dreadlocks! In fact, only one dish featured tamarind as a seasoning. We ordered Grilled Wahoo and the Pork Tenderloin. For appetizers, we ordered the Fish Bisque and the Snails. The Bisque was tasty, but had a grainy consistency. The Snails were well seasoned, fresh and swimming in a garlic butter. The Wahoo was way overcooked, and the pork was covered with an overly sweet marmalade sauce and far too heavily peppered. The side dish of diced potatoes, peppers, squash and onions was tasty, but far too sweet. The one time our somewhat somber waitress asked "is everything OK?, I answered:that the fish is not medium rare, but overcooked. Without so much as a "sorry," she asked if she should tell the chef. I said he'd want to know, but we never heard another word , only the bill. After waiting ten minutes to pay, (the restaurant was only serving four tables at the time) I looked around inside for someone to take my money. We left without anyone saying a word to us. Had it not been for the wonderful setting and the greeting of our chef when we arrived, I would have given Marley's a poor rating. Perhaps in a few months we'll try the breakfast, but I doubt it.

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1  Thank 73journey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 20, 2013

Friend raved about her experience here so we went.
After a 10 second ferry ride, a short walk, there is Marley's Jamaican Cafe. Nothing about the place is Jamaican, not the food, the ambiance or the service.
It was a typical fall evening in CT, chilly and clear. We were seated outside, two of six at the place and should have moved inside. If they are going to serve outside on these fall evenings, they need to get heaters.
Service was competent but not particularly friendly nor particularly interested in whether we were enjoying our experience.
The clam chowder starter was not clam chowder but a fish chowder made mostly with cod, clunky flour bits and dressed with too much hot sauce. The wahoo was overcooked although we particularly requested medium rare. When we told the waitress, she simply said, I'll let the cook know and swept the dish away. The pork tenderloin was over seasoned with black pepper and served with an ultra sweet fig relish. On both entries, there was a side of peppers, zucchini and potatoes. This was in addition to a rice melange with the wahoo and small roasted potatoes with the pork.
And for what it was, considering it was BYOB, it was expensive. We should have complained more, sent everything back, but it was a Friday evening with a beautiful moon and we just wanted to go home. I'm sure it is a bustling busy place on hot summer nights at the shore. But for us, who care about food, and have so many other options, it is that one time deal. Won't be going back even if they comped us.

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2  Thank jv40
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 17, 2013

loved the 30 sec required ferry ride to get to this restaurant! although we had to wait for some time, it was worth it. the place was packed! i loved the eggs benedict and when i come back will order it again!

2  Thank Rory T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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