September 26, 2011

Sausage League @ Marben

A few days after my brunch, I returned to Marben for their Sausage League. It was the last round of semi-finals, featuring La Palette and Pizzeria Libretto/Enoteca Sociale. I've eaten at Pizzeria Libretto and have been dying to try Enoteca Sociale, so naturally, I was very excited for the event. My previous two dining experiences at Marben had been fairly pleasant, but unfortunately, I had some issues with the service this time around.

Marben's menu for the night was significantly different from the online version, and I was rather disappointed because some of the dishes that I wanted to try was no longer on the menu (pulled pork croquette!!!). Although I appreciate that they change their menu frequently, it would be nice if they updated the menu online as well!
I usually love bread a lot, so regardless of how much food I ordered, I usually have to eat a piece or two. However, I miraculously did not eat a single bite of the bread this time, but not because I didn't want to, but because there wasn't any opportunity to do so. Everything came within 2 minutes of the bread's arrival! I wished the wait staff could've given me at least 5 minutes to sample the bread before bombarding me with all the food! However, my mom, who tried a piece later, told me that the bread was not very good at all. This was disappointing to me, as the bread I had for brunch a few days earlier was excellent. My mom also commented that the dip tasted like Chinese soy sauce.
We shared Julia's butternut squash soup with chantilly, croutons, and sage oil. The soup actually arrived last, after the burger and the two sausage dishes, which didn't really make sense to me. In addition to that, we weren't provided with spoons or a sharing bowl, despite explicitly stating that we planned to share the soup. I guess it wasn't a big deal, but it was slightly annoying. Now, onto the soup itself, which was actually quite delicious. It was creamy and sweet, but not too thick, and I loved that wonderful crunch from the croutons.
My mom likes burgers, so even though I just had John's burger a few days ago at brunch, I decided to order it again for my mom's sake. This time around, it was $4 cheaper at $13 and didn't come with a mountain of fries, which was a shame because I really love those fries... not that we could've finished it. The burger was, once again, scrumptious and excellent, though my mom commented that she tasted a lot of butter (which is probably why it's so good!). The coleslaw, however, was a little watered down. On a bright note, it was probably healthier this way. We actually packed half the burger home and I ate it the next day for dinner.
From Pizzeria Libretto/Enoteca Sociale, chef Rocco Agostino presented us with the Italian "chili dog" with mild fennel sausage, rabbit chili and pickled shallot. I thought that it was a nice touch to have the chef come out to present their sausage dish to the diners, but I couldn't help but wonder: how do they have enough time to cook in the kitchen if they have to do that for every table? I guess their main job is to supervise anyway. Anyhow, I really loved this dish! The sausage was pleasantly sweet and incredibly juicy! The rabbit chili and pickled shallot were great additions, even though I couldn't really distinguish the taste of the rabbit itself. The tangy pickled shallots were particularly refreshing. My mom wasn't a fan of the fennel, so I happily devoured most of this myself.
From La Palette, we have wild boar Andouille in duck neck confit with Esplette ratatouille, arugula, Cerignola olives and capers. I couldn't get over the fact that they put a whole duck head on the plate! Unfortunately, the Andouille sausage was too dry, although it had great flavour. It tasted great when paired with the ratatouille, but by itself the sausage was awfully dry. I thought that the various components of the dish worked quite well. The arugula salad was lightly dressed and very refreshing, and the duck neck confit was tender and had that wonderfully intense duck flavour. Overall, I really liked the extravagance and creativity of the dish, but the components weren't as well integrated as it could've been. So in the end, I put my vote on the other dish.

We wiped the whole plate clean, save for the hideous duck head.
Now onto some ranting about the service. Since $25 included a bottle of Steamwhistle, and neither my mom nor I are big fans of beer, I asked if I could take the bottle to go, and our server said she'd asked. She only informed me at the end of my meal that this wasn't possible. I mean, I understand if you won't let me take it home, but at least tell me earlier so I could have it with my meal. Regardless, I didn't want to waste, so I asked to have it anyway. Our server completely forgot about it, and I had to ask for it again while we were getting bill. After I finally got my bottle of Steamwhistle and the bill, I anxiously waited for the ballot so we could vote! It turned out that our server completely forgot to give us the ballot, and I had to (yet again) ask for it while we were paying the bill. I mean... I thought the whole point of this sausage league event was that we, the diners, get to pick the winners! There were also other minor issues, like pacing of the dishes, the wine glasses weren't taken away (our table already had no space for all the plates) and the extinguished candle wasn't relit for half the meal. So altogether, I wasn't very happy about the service, even though the sausage league event itself was pretty fun. Congrats to Pizzeria Libretto/Enoteca Sociale for making it to the finals this week. I wish you all the best.
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