Went last night with a group for friends for a birthday celebration and we all really enjoyed ourselves. I really like the nostalgic feel of this place. We arrived a little early for our 8 PM reservation and we sat at the bar to wait for a member of our party. The hostess told us our table was ready in the upstairs dining room, but didn't rush us whatsoever.
I think their cocktail menu shows a lot of character. I had a warm cocktail, the Marilyn Monroe which was rum, orange bitters and some other ingredients served in a large snifter and it was a great way to take the chill off, later upstairs I had an Old Fashion which was mighty tasty.
I've dined downstairs before, but this was my first time upstairs. I'm fairly certain that when Marliave first opened, there was a pretty clear distinction between the upstairs (more pricey) menu and the downstairs, but now I think that has changed with an "After 5" menu (served after 5 PM) available on all dining levels including the oyster bar. As much as I like the casual downstairs, the upstairs dining room was indeed more special.
We shared a few apps, the rarebits, charcuterie plate and the mussels. All were very good, the pork rillette (of the charcuterie) was the table favorite, we did have to request more toasted bread for the charcuterie, rarebit and mussel broth, but I don't think that would have been an issue if you are an individual dining on any given app, but for for 5 folks sharing, it was a little scant- a very, very minor quibble.
Our server was great, she knew the menu, the history of the restaurant and was happy to share her favorite dishes on the menu. Professional and attentive.
Two ordered the Sunday Night Gravy (gnocci, San Marzano tomatoes, lamb, beef and pork) - just as delightful as the gnocci at Grotto. The Colorado Lamb and the Duck meatballs with foie gras ravioli ( a little too Al Dente for my wife's liking).Both dishes off the after 5 menu, I had the caviar on deviled egg from the raw bar menu and the Ruben.
The Colorado lamb was a roasted sirloin cut and perhaps the most tender and juicy lamb I've had in quite some time, I would definitely order it next time. My Rueben was monstrous, served on two thick slabs on house baked rye bread which I was expecting to be very dense, but to my surprise was really light an airy, yet hearty enough to hold the whole sandwich together, really well executed and the corned beef was "like buttah" but I wish there was a little more in there. The fries which accompanied my sandwich we very popular with everyone at the table.
Overall a great time and worthy of a place on my "go-to" rotation.
Scott Herritt was there, mostly expediting and doing some serving. Inspecting it seemed (while we were downstairs and could see the kitchen) pretty much every plate coming out of the kitchen. He was omnipresent on both floors making sure everything was going smoothly and people were happy. This is the attention to detail which I wish was found in a lot more local restaurants and is certainly a big factor in why Grotto is so successful and generally well embraced on this board.
A few last notes- nothing on the standard menu is over $20.00. After 5 menu main courses between the upper 20's and upper 30's. Both floors were fairly crowed for a Friday, but not slammed. Accepts Open Table reservations.