* Click here for rating key
Marché Moderne Restaurant Review: Costa Mesa’s South Coast Plaza is a draw not only for its shopping opportunities but also for its culinary roster. Chief among them is Marché Moderne, the culmination of the illustrious careers of chefs Florent and Amelia Marneau. The sophisticated yet inviting interior features wood plank floors, high wood ceilings, cozy banquette seating, sumptuous fabrics and an exhibition kitchen. However, the patio may be the jewel of the restaurant, with Mediterranean touches like olive trees, a communal table and romantic booths for four draped with silk taffeta. OC’s power elite, especially head honchos and fashionistas, lunch here on the chef’s three-course fixed-price menu ($20 on weekdays/$25 on weekends). In the afternoons and early evenings, some come here to relax at the wine tasting bar with its temperature controlled Cruvinet dispensing system. Chef Florent is also known for his fresh salads (burrata and heirloom tomatoes, salade composée) and savory, French-style tarts, which he bakes himself in the kitchen’s roaring wood-burning oven. Other starters might range from pork belly confit with peach and red onion jam to roasted octopus flavored with chorizo, shishito pepper pipérade and sauce verte. There’s a good selection of French bistro classics such as steak frites, coq au vin and charcuterie. Entrées, like the soft-shell crab with yuzu emulsion served alongside a shower of black truffles, are full of enticing flavors. Be sure to make a few selections from the cheese offerings, which mostly hail from France. The crowning course may be one of pastry chef Amelia’s creations, perhaps peach gâteau with late-harvest Semillon ice cream and praline cream.