I went to Marliave for the first time in a while tonight. I guess everyone else has also not been back in a while. The place was a ghost town. If Marliave does not have a solid afterwork crowd, I don't see how it can stay open much longer. Maybe there are some very deep-pocket backers, but they certainly can't be making too much money these days.
We arrived at 6pm - there were 4 customers in the downstairs, main bar area. We sat at the bar and I had a ridiculously sweet Molasses Flood of 1919.
Two women next to me asked one of the bartenders what St. Germain was. His reply, "It's, uh, this" (as he brought the bottle over to show the women). One woman asked how it tasted. The bartender said "Umm" and then asked the other bartender what the main ingredient was. St. Germain isn't exactly an exotic ingredient these days. Not knowing about the major ingredients in drinks on the menu is unforgivable in my book, especially at a place that bills itself as a serious cocktail bar. Also, for the record, Marliave is NOT a serious cocktail bar by any stretch. I've heard rumors of B-Side alums working some shifts and making great drinks, but I've never had anything other than lackluster drink service.
The three of us decided to grab one of the empty tables to make conversation easier than at the bar. We settled at the bar and moved to a table for some more drinks and food. After an oddly long wait given the lack of customers our waitress arrived.
We asked about the $1 oyster special. She said that we could only get the $1 oyster deal if we sat at one of the bars (by this time the bar had three customers and, including us, six customers at the tables). Huh? We pressed her on it after she returned with drinks. She said she would ask a manager. It worked out. If we had been denied the oyster deal I probably would have hit the floor laughing.
Our food was fine - cheese plate, mussels, oysters, and a pastrami sandwich. Nothing that special, everything was just pretty good.
When we left at 8pm, the crowd was up to about 8. Sad. Not a good sign for a Thursday evening. Marliave is a cool space and has such great potential. Too bad it's full of fail right now.
My lunch trip to Flour was a serious contrast. It was delicious and ridiculously packed. Not everyone is hurting these days.