Review - Marseille (630 9TH AVE @ 44TH ST , 212-333-3410 )
We stopped in for a late brunch at Marseille over the weekend. We've liked other outposts of this Frenchy chain (French Roast, L'express, Pigalle etc) and this was supposed to have a slightly Moroccan tilt toward their menu.
The place is bustling, and very loud, due to being popular and being surfaced with hard edged surfaces (tiles, no curtains or linens, mirrors etc) which all bounce the sound around. The place looks vaguely Moorish in design with lots of Gallic kitsch thrown in (usual signs and knick knackery) so its relatively charming. We had a reservation and were seated within 10min of arriving, even though one of our party was late and was brought to our table later.
The service was pretty weak, a combination of incompetence and being crowded. It wasn't malicious and we didn't whack them on the tip...but I wouldn't go back. It took too long to get menus, too long to get our drinks, multiple requests to get all the dishes, etc. Everything had to be followed up on, and it just gets tiresome. Although we did not order wine, the wine list is pretty large and mostly fairly priced, especially for lesser known estates. You should not have a problem getting a good bottle for $40 or so.
The food is ok for brunch, probably a 7 on the scale of 1-10. I had the crab salad, which was solid and offered a good dollop of crab. The SO had a frittata which was reported as being good; it looked large. And my high maintainence sister ordered the merguez laced omelet (sans creme fraiche and egg yolks of course!) which looked good although runny and oddly colored due to her demands. I guess for brunch these are all relatively hard to mess up. The fries are good at this place, but seem kind of high priced relative to the amount you get. Everything else is good value though and its not totally obvious that this is a corporate/chain type of place.
Posters seem to report up and down visits here. I could see it being better, and the menu looks good, especially for the price -- but the hospitality struggles with a chain of inexperienced waitstaff doing this as a waystation while they wait for their auditions to succeed.