Had dinner with my wife last night at Marly's BYOB in Phoenixville. Short story: this place is a disaster. I live in Phoenixville and just hadn't gotten around to eating here yet. Last night we finally went. Since they opened, I've heard many good things about this restaurant...a lot on this site in fact. I would love believe that my experience last night was just an "off night"...but I can't. The problems with the food were fundamental mistakes made by a kitchen more interested with an easy, speedy service instead of producing quality food.
OK...first course: I don't recall exactly how it was advertised...but my wife had a salad. The menu made no mention of blue cheese...but it was all over the salad. My wife doesn't eat blue cheese, so she pushed it aside and went on. Otherwise, the salad was pleasant and forgetable. Also, the blue cheese was of particularly low quality, and purchased pre-cut. It was cut into cubes (not crumbles) and clearly had the taste of the flour/cornstarch coasting used to keep bagged/pre-cut cheese separated while in the bag. Next...my app. Crispy halloumi cheese salad w/roasted beets, greens. This was a crime agaist cheese. I like halloumi cheese. I'm sure that what they served me was once halloumi...however, it no longer resembled anyything I'd call cheese. It was a rectangular piece of cheese that was clearly cooked some time before my ordering it, perhaps even the day before. It was overcooked, barely warm, and served to me about two mintes after ordering. This cheese was cooked a while ago. In doing so, they removed all flavor, texture and life outthe chese. The rest of the salad was fine, except for the huge pile of expensive microgreens that came undressed. I personally believe that any greens on the plate should be dressed. Otherwise, while very pretty....they're still just dry cut grass.
Entrees: My wife had the evening special: Seared Ahi with sweet potaoto risotto, pancetta, mushrooms and bok choy. The tuna was a precut, frozen, color injected piece of "fish". This is just a a cheap and lazy move by the chef/kitchen. Either they don't know how to handle the fresh fish, they're not confident that sell enough to buy fresh, or they're just cheap and lazy. The risotto was also pre-cooked and refired to order. This is common and fine, but this particular risoto was also way too old. The rice was dry and crumbly. The flavor of sweet potato was good, but it couldn't revive the overcooked, old rice. The mushrooms (also precooked) and pancetta were both overcooked. The "sauce" was siply an herb oil, and lots of it. Essentially, they made the dish, then poured about 3oz of green oil over eveything. Disappointing.
I had Lamb loin w/ porcini, mascapone polenta, and roasted brussel sprouts. The lamb was good, a little under cooked (ordered MR) but the meat was good. The brussel sprouts were a travesty. Again, precooked....my guess was at least a day or two ago. Again, overcooked, burnt, andwithout any flavor. Green vegetables should be served green...not brown and black. The porcini were rehydrated dry mushrooms that were actually undercooked. This combinaton results in a rubber band texture. The polenta was the loosest polenta I've ever had. When picking it up with a fork, it ran through the tines and proved very difficult to eat. Also, I found several clumbs of mascarpone that had not been properly mixed into polenta.
Obviously the theme here is "pre cooked". I went last night (Tuesday) at 7pm. There was only one other group of four in the restaurant. Another couple entered aout halfway through our meal. This is how busy they are...and they serve a menu which was cooked yesterday? Oh, and the rolls...these were "par cooked" frozen rolls. I've actually had this particular brand of roll before, and I love 'em. However, they're made to be tawed, then finished in an oven. They gave us the rolls thawed and unfinished. The butter came with what I think was some type of smoked sea salt...which I liked very much. Again, rolls served ice cold without even being properly cooked...half our food cooked yesterday...and an empty dining room. And it wasn't just a slow night in town. We walked up and down Bridge St. after dinner and found several other restaurants doing a good business. Clearly, they had made a better choice than I had. We did not have any desserts, or coffee...just couldn't risk it.
Service was good, although she couldn't tell me what kind of oysters they had that day. Two apps, two entrees, 20% tip: $90. Unaceptable.
I just don't understand.
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