I finally made it to Marimar last weekend. This was a place I had avoided since they opened because they allowed smoking, and I remember when the space used to be a coffee house, The Nokomis Inn, and a couple of other places - poor ventilation left cigarette smoke around for a looooong time. Retold experiences of a couple of friends who decided to check out Marimar after it opened confirmed my suspicions. It was indeed smoky - even though smoking was only permitted in the front room. It later got scaled back to the bar only, but that didn't seem to help much.
Well, I'm happy to report that Marimar is now totally smoke free, with the exception of Mondays. This will make me a frequent patron. The food is solidly prepared (give it a 7 on a scale of 1-10). A little more imagination and attention to detail could bump that rating up, but most days of the week, I'll be happy with a 7.
I started with a composed beet, goat cheese, and arugula salad served with a chive vinaigrette. All it needed was some coarse salt, coarsely ground pepper, and the vinaigrette drizzled on the salad and not around the rim of the plate. My wife's cream based sausage and spinach soup was flavorful, but a parsnip and apple puree that one of our party had was on the bland side.
For an entree, I had the duck breast on a mushroom risotto. The duck was done very well - most of the fat had been rendered, and the skin was crispy without being "greasily" so. The meat was a medium pink. Some people may like a little more red, but it was plenty tender. The risotto was somewhat uninspired and lacked depth of flavor (a heartier mushroom broth and some seasoning is all it needed). My wife had the sea bass special, and it was perfectly cooked, and very well flavored. Our companions also enjoyed their entrees - braised lamb shank for one, and salmon for the other.
The wine list is attractively priced. Most selections are under $30, and over 75% of the list is also available by the glass. The selections on the list are carefully chosen, and there is a wide range of styles available. It's a list that's about the food, and not about the wine. We also brought a bottle of our own (calling ahead to make sure it was allowed), and the corkage fee was only $12.
Service was friendly and attentive. Our reservations were for 8:00. The restaurant was fairly full at that time, but by about 9:30 on this Saturday evening, the it was almost cleared out. The kitchen closes at 10:00. If you want an experience on the more quiet side, an 8:00 or 8:30 reservation will suit you well.
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