Sunday, August 02, 2015

Maré on Melrose: Your New Favorite Secret Summer Patio

This month's Larchmont Ledger review was Maré on Melrose. Go to the neighborhood paper's website to see how many forks it got.

To find the sweet little hidden restaurant Maré, start at Greenspan's Grilled Cheese shop on Melrose. Now walk confidently through to the kitchen at the rear. It may look like a dead-end, but the kitchen staff will point you to a heavy door that looks like it might lead to a walk-in cooler. Don't worry, you're not about to be deep-frozen: the door leads to the former Foundry chef's pleasant new all-patio restaurant that features a tightly-edited menu that concentrates on Mediterranean-style seafood and lots of seasonal vegetables.

A pleasant patio restaurant with no indoor seats

With polished service and fresh, assured flavors, Maré will hopefully stick around long enough to get some use out of the many available heat lamps. You emerge from of the grilled cheese shop's kitchen into a patio with a hostess station and waiting area. Reservations are available for parties of six and more only, so kill some time on the foosball table if there’s a wait.

While you’re considering the menu, an array of snacks is placed on the brown paper table covering: a dish of preserved kumquats and tiny olives, seeded baguettes, pickled sweet peppers. There are certainly worse ways to while away an evening than sipping rosé and dipping bread into the little wood dishes of dipping oil and pickles.

this pleasant spread greats diners on arrival

If you haven’t stopped by the Melrose Umbrella Company next door first, there are muddled fruit cocktails, like tequila with kumquat or whiskey with fig and oregano. For now the wine list keeps it super-simple with one house choice of each color, though it may eventually grow.

There’s something relaxing about the lack of choices at Mare. Order a selection of a pretty tray of crudités with two dips and an array of lightly steamed and raw veggies, a very Italian Riviera plate of small fried smelts, maybe a whole grilled branzino or a special like supple slices of raw scallops topped with plums, salsa verde and crunchy sea beans.

Almost every table gets one of the shellfish dishes: Mussels, shrimp or clams are available with a handful of broth variations from white wine to curry to corn. A bowl of plain spaghetti arrives alongside the mussels, along with a raw egg, and the diner is instructed to mix the egg, pasta and leftover broth to form a sort of a French ramen, a nice touch that makes for a heartier dish.

For dessert, choose between a few simple selections like sorbet, semolina cake with fruit compote or chili chocolate crepes.
raw scallops with sea beans and salsa verde

Maré’s slightly improvisational feel, enthusiastic service and reasonable prices make it a fine spot for a mid-city summer supper. With just a few more dishes on the menu -- perhaps a cheese and charcuterie plate – it could end up being everyone’s favorite secret spot.

Mare Melrose, 7465 Melrose Ave., 323-592-3226

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