Time: Saturday. June 14, 2014. 8:00 PM. Reservation.
Location: SoMa, San Francisco
Address: 330 Townsend St
Cuisine: American (New)
Party Size: 6 (M&V; L&Y; K&S)
Order: 5 entrees, 9 appetizers, 1 dessert, 8 glasses of wine, 2 espresso
Pre-tip Cost: $364 [$325 food & drink; $29 tax; $10 healthy SF]
Verdict: We had some Mar-highs and some Mar-lows.
How we ended up at Marlowe is somewhat of a humorous story. While on a walk in the SoMa neighborhood a few months back with Minako, we passed by a restaurant and read the posted menu. It looked great so I made a mental note to remember to stop by for dinner sometime in the future. In the months following this afternoon stroll, the restaurant slipped from our minds and the name was washed from our memories.
After meeting K&S and realizing that they lived in the area of the forgotten restaurant, I asked them if they had even been to the place with the great sounding burger and other meat options. They immediately said, yes – the place is called Marlowe and they frequent it. I agreed that the place had to be called Marlowe and their recommendation was good enough for us and we set up dinner.
As our car pulled up to the address of Marlowe I immediately became confused. This was not the location of the restaurant I was talking about. It turns out there is more than one burger and meat joint in SoMa and the mystery restaurant is still at large. But that is for another day, today is all about Marlowe.
We arrived with two goals in mind: bone marrow and burgers. We filled in the meal with a selection of other starters and entrees.
Warmed Deviled Egg; aged provolone, pickled jalapeno, bacon
A fluffy egg yolk topped with a mild jalapeno and crispy bacon.
Crispy Brussel Sprout Chips; lemon and sea salt
These were crispy indeed, the lemon kicked a tartness and the sea salt invited washing it all down with a beverage.
Di Stefano Burrata; chilled parsnip puree, porcini salt, citrus, hazelnuts, and toasted bread
A refreshing and colorful starter. The burrata was extra gooey. bonus points for having one dollop per person.
Steak Tartare; poached quail egg and crostini
The tartare had a smooth taste but at times the oil/seasoning overpowered the steak.
Roasted Bone Marrow; salsa verde and fines herbs
We grabbed three orders of the marrow, each of which come with two bones. One of the six was a little overcooked but still edible after a little digging work. With the others, the marrow just melted off the bone and was a beautiful gelatinous ooze on the crostini.
Marlowe Burger; caramelized onion, cheddar, bacon, horseradish aioli, and fries
The burger is the other Marlowe legend that was on the must have list. The burger, which rumor has it mixes ground beef and lamb, was cooked to a beautiful medium rare. A bountiful char on the outside of the meat is a residual of an open flame grill. The bun was disappointing however and slightly detracted from the overall enjoyment.
Grilled Niman Pork Chop; stinging nettle pesto risotto, baby turnips, sautéed spinach, and Morcillia sausage
I am on a pork chop kick lately and Marlowe’s version kept the train on that track. Recommended at medium, the chop maintained a redness and juiciness that is far from the overcooked and dry pork chops I grew up on. It is hard to tell from the photo, but the portion was generous as well. Two chops were ordered and due to a cooking issue with one of them, it came out a little late but a manager was quick to apologize for the delay and compensate the aggrieved party with a fresh drink.
Upside Down Pluot Crisp
TCHO Chocolate Cream Pie; graham cracker and cookie crust, cocoa nib, sea salt
Dessert is where things started to get a little testy. The upside down crisp was great and received thumbs up all around. The chocolate dessert was heavy on the salt. Each of the six of us took a spoonful (which depleted the jar) and all came to the same conclusion that it wasn’t to our taste. As a matter of question, we asked the waitress if it was supposed to be this salty or not. She first reminded us that sea salt was one of the three ingredients and then went back and checked with the kitchen to test it. She returned and confirmed this is the expected taste and, after a little back and forth, apologized that we it wasn’t to our liking and removed it from tab.
It got even more interesting after settling the tab. One of the couples ordered a little less and rather than an even three way split, they calculated their total (tip included, which they wrote on the line) and the other two split the balance of the bill and, since the first couple factored tip into their amount the other two covered the entire tip. We got a few paces out of the restaurant and the waitress called out from behind to us saying, essentially “you guys wrote tip is included on one receipt but we don’t automatically charge gratuity.”
We explained that the tip on the other two credit slips covered for the fact that the third included their tip in the swipe amount (and even did the math on a phone calculator). After a little more back and forth, the waitress walked away but it appeared she still felt short changed when in fact she wasn’t (unless 17% of the pretax total is being overly cheap these days). I understand the source of the confusion but felt it was a little forward of her to chase us down.