Chophouse Row is the new development on Capitol Hill right now, itself the hippest part of Seattle, also known as the place with an actual nightlife and good independent music/fashion/food shopping options of the density of a Big City. Marmite, one of the glitzy tenants in the gorgeous block of Chophouse Row, wants to be established as one of them. But are they good enough?
My experience at Marmite wasn’t good – it was actually very disappointing, so I won’t be heading back there again. Maybe I can’t make the most accurate judgement on the whole restaurant’s culinary philosophy based on trying three things, but the first impression was such a disaster that I’m not interested in giving them a second chance.
The Farmer’s Breakfast (something in the ballpark of $15) was interesting in a great way – that brown pile is scrambled eggs, flavored a generous handful of morels. The eggs were prepared wonderfully, velvety and tender. Good, hearty toast as well.
Parsnip gratin was terrible – the flavor was completely dominated by arugula and tasted like a warm, wet salad. The Swiss cheese topping, which I had watched a cook brown with a blow torch from the open kitchen, wasn’t enough to save the vegetables and didn’t integrate with them.
The worst of the worst was this salmon with poached egg…thing.
Looks beautiful, right?
But is this worth $16?
Because that’s how much it cost, for literally two bites of fish and an egg. Wait, I forgot to mention the 2 calories of microgreens and teaspoon of puree! How luxurious.
This might have made a fine hors d’oeuvre (at a third of the price), listed as such on the menu. This three-bite arrangement, which could pass for artfully positioned leftovers, had no place on a brunch menu with actual entrees.
Another item that this would be a suitable portion size for is an amuse-bouche (which I won’t call this, because amuse-bouches aren’t ordered and are free). The amuse-bouche is supposed to provide a glimpse into the chef’s philosophy for customers. If this salmon thing tells me anything about Marmite’s philosophy towards food, it’s that the outside appearance is more important than the actual taste or ability to function as a meal. Pretentious and trend-chasing.
Which is a shame, really. Because from visuals alone, Marmite looks like an amazing destination for food. But there’s only so much Instagramming you can do of bone broth and avocado toast and cake slices stuck into milkshakes like all the other urban millennials – at some point, we want to eat things that don’t taste horrible and come in adult portion sizes.
The pastries ($5 each) and bread are from Amandine, a bakery next door operated by Marmite’s owner’s wife. Marmite’s operated by Bruce Naftaly, who is well-regarded in the Seattle food scene. I haven’t tried his other restaurants.
Architecturally, Chophouse Row is really awesome. Above’s a shot I took inside Marmite – Marmire seamlessly transitions into its bar area to an artisan jewelry store behind it, and further back is Kurt Farm Shop, selling cheese and ice cream.
From the outside:
Walk upstairs above Marmite, and over a few steps, and now we’re looking at Amandine.
Chophouse Row embodies the idea of cool that Seattle is slowly inching towards. I’ll be coming back to check out some of the other tenants, but not Marmite. Marmite looks stunning, but so does everything else in the building.
1424 11th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122