Thursday, January 26, 2017

Marks Restaurant

Marks Restaurant is nestled into a beautiful house off Dolley Madison Road. The quaint bar, thoughtful service and scrumptious food makes you feel indeed, right at home. I attended the Stags' Leap wine dinner at Marks on Monday, which also marked the first time I dined at the restaurant. I cannot believe in my 4 years living in Greensboro, that I hadn't been here until now. Stags' Leap is a famed winery in the prestigious Napa Valley, and I couldn't wait to sample some of their varietals. The dinner was seamless, and the food and wine pairings were nothing less than stellar. Mark and his staff should be very proud of the hard work that went into preparing this dinner. It certainly paid off.

From the first pairing, I knew we were in for quite a treat. I prefer red to white, but Napa Chardonnay is very special. The Stags' Leap 2015 Chardonnay was a lovely match to Crab Macaroni & Cheese with Creamy Herb Boursin. The earthy notes from the herbaceous cheese went wonderfully with the buttery, oakey Chardonnay. The crab to noodle ratio was equal - menus often advertise crab or lobster mac & cheese, but then you might find just one or two bites of seafood - not the case here! This rich dish was a perfect, albeit rich way to start the meal.

Red Blends are hit or miss for me. The Investor Red Blend is almost equal parts Merlot - Petite Sirah - Cabernet Sauvignon and while they're all wonderful on their own, this blend seemed a little young, and could have used a little more time to open up. Fortunately I was too busy enjoying the Rack of Lamb (I'd never had lamb on the bone before!) with the Port Wine Demi-Glace and Roasted Root Vegetables. The lamb possessed that lovely unctuous, umami flavor that makes the protein so special, and I was served an end piece, giving me more of that salty crust. The roasted root vegetables were diced a little on the small side, and fresh rosemary covered up some of the port wine flavor, but overall, this was a fantastic dish.

The descriptor of the third course featured some of my favorite words: "kobe", "truffle", "caramelized" and "Cabernet". I've always heard that 2013 was a great year for Napa Cabs, and now I've come to understand why. The perfect Bacon-Wrapped Kobe Beef alongside the Cabernet - these two were made for each other. The beef rested on a Brioche Crouton and was topped with a Caramelized Onion and Truffle reduction. Crispy pea shoots (or perhaps tendrils) adorned the filet for color, and while this was the smallest portion, it was the most memorable.

By the time dessert rolled around, I had done my best to save a little room for at least a bite. The Blackberry-Chocolate Bread Pudding was quite an interesting and risky flavor pairing - raspberry and chocolate tend to be paired together more often - but the texture was fabulous, and it was studded with plump, juicy blackberries. The Cinnamon Creme Anglaise was my favorite part. I'm not a huge chocolate fan, but I very much enjoyed the Petite Sirah that went along with it. Wine and food pairings are so wonderful because when done well, the flavors enhance each other! A different wine would have brought a different dimension to this dish, so I was pleased that this one enhanced the dessert for my palate.

I'm loving the trend of wine dinners in the Triad - you can practically go to a different one every night! But if you have the opportunity to attend one at Marks, jump at it. The pours were ample and the portions were just right. You won't leave over- or under-stuffed. I'm eager to return for more of Mark's food during a "normal" dinner setting, and they are open for lunch, too! I'll be visiting again very, very soon.

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