I was a big fan of the old Marjorie space but now I know that was just a crush; this is true love.
Like many, I was sad when owner Donna Moodie had to close her lovely little spot in Belltown. I mourned the loss of the quirky restaurant with its tiny bar and charming courtyard, because it was the space Marjorie inhabited that I first came to love. How excited I was, then, to learn that it would be reborn on Capitol Hill and consequently kept a close eye on its progress.
I finally got my chance on a recent Friday and I’m not kidding: love at first sight. With the brightly colored chairs in the courtyard, the vivid blue of the interior walls, and the vibrant silk-covered ceiling squares that came with Donna from the old restaurant to the new, the space has so much life and color. The floors are a beautiful wide plank wood, and I love the tall metal shelves that reach up to the ceiling in various locations around the space. Behind the bar on the shelves that front Union are the requisite bottles of liquor; in front of the kitchen the shelves hold stacks and stacks of plates; and on two walls of the dining room the shelves hold wine bottles upon wine bottles with a few of bubbly water thrown in for good measure. It’s not a large space, with a bench that runs the length of the walls under those same metal shelves. There is probably seating for something like 20 there, in addition to the long communal table and cozy bar. The petite size just helps you to feel like you’re having dinner at the home of one of your best friends. Albeit a friend who has a fabulous eye for interiors and is a phenomenal cook, but that’s the feeling I get being there. It’s due in no small measure to Donna herself, who is as gracious a hostess as ever and has chosen staff who reflect this same ethic.
The cocktails at Marjorie are spectacular and deserve special mention, and on this particular evening we sampled three: The Rye Manhattan with Pendleton Rye Whisky, Punt‐e‐Mes, Lemon Bitters; the Marjorie Vesper with Quintessential Gin, Hanger One Vodka, Lillet, Orange Twist; and the Marjorie Negroni with Quintessential Gin, Antica Ricetta, Vermut Pregiato.
I’m finding that bread and butter are no longer just that, but instead now seem to be a menu item of their own. I saw this most recently at Sitka & Spruce, with their to-die-for slipper bread. And now I’ve experienced Marjorie’s homemade butter, an excellent reason to order (and reorder!) the Columbia City Bakery ficelle and Murray River salt sprinkled atop the butter. It was an indicator of an extraordinary meal to come…
Our first dish was the deep sea big eye tuna, three perfect slices of sashimi-style tuna served with picholine olives and pomegranate molasses. Smooth, almost creamy fish with the salt of the olives and the tang of the pomegranate.
Staying seaside, next was the grilled octopus with housemade andouille sausage, fingerling potatoes and gremolata. I tend to steer away from octopus in sushi form because I find it to be too chewy, but Marjorie’s preparation was more thickly cut, tender and surprisingly delicious with the andouille and fingerlings. The orange section and peel helped to give it a lovely citrus flavor. The Anson Mills grits were sweet and deliciously creamy, served with mushrooms and braised pork. A meal in itself, I daresay, and so good we ended up ordering it twice. (Oh my!)
The collette of beef was perfectly done, and served atop a bed of porcini mushrooms and served with a foie gras hollandaise. As an added surprise, under the mushrooms we discovered braised shredded rib eye, making for a meat-and-more-meat dish, my favorite kind. The duck breast was perhaps my favorite of the evening, a beautiful composition of the duck, sweet corn, a tiny sweet corn gratin, house cured bacon, and bing cherries. Extravagant to be sure, but utterly divine.
The sweet at Marjorie is just as phenomenal as the savory, as evidenced by our brioche bread pudding with fresh cream, bourbon caramel, and toffee; and the rhubarb Napolean with the most delicate layers of pastry, Bellweather Farms ricotta, creme de patissierre, and Dodi aged balsamic vinegar. When the three beautiful little meringues arrived at the end of our meal I thought surely I couldn’t eat another bite, but somehow I managed it and these too were delicious. Start to finish, the Marjorie experience was phenomenal. If I listen really closely I can hear a barstool and Vesper calling my name…