by Jesse Stirling
Marché Moderne translates to “modern market,” which describes the underlying philosophy of this cosmopolitan French bistro. Chef-owners Florent and Amelia Marneau meld traditional French recipes with modern American cuisine to create truly exceptional dishes. Driven by a passion for fresh, local ingredients and classic cooking techniques, this husband-and-wife team have created a winning French bistro in the heart of Orange County.
The restaurant’s décor is a pleasing juxtaposition of old and new, integrating extremes – urban and rustic, simple and sophisticated, modern and traditional. Located on the prestigious Penthouse level of South Coast Plaza, Marché Moderne feels like a cozy, yet urban restaurant. Classic features include wood plank floors, ancient stone accents, white linens and dark wood French doors, which open up to a rooftop patio. Against this charming backdrop, the restaurant has modern accents – minimalist white lighting, artistic floral displays and Italian patterned silk banquettes.
Surrounded by all this swankiness, the hospitality is notable for its down-to-earth attitude. The food is a reflection of the world’s best artisan-made dishes and Southern California’s farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. Marché Moderne is the place to find such bistro classics as specialty-made cheese and charcuterie plates, along with moules frites, cold foie gras torchon, steak frites l’echalote and oysters du jour.
Highlights of our meal included the ahi tuna tartar, the duck l’orange, short ribs with peppercorn purée, clam and mussel chorizo, lamb with couscous, and frog legs, which do, in fact, taste like chicken. The dessert pastries, handmade by Florent, were exceptional, particularly the apple tarte a l‘Alsacienne. Perhaps the most ringing endorsement for Marché Moderne comes from the patrons themselves. When you’re writing a restaurant review, with a professional photographer snapping away, the tables around you can’t help but notice. Not one, not two, but three separate couples felt compelled to provide passionate, unsolicited testimonials, as follows:
“We have dined here every week for the past 1 three years, because the menu is always changing,
and always exceptional.”
“The perfect oasis in the middle of a shopping 2 spree. The prix fix menu at lunch time is
3 “We can’t wait to discover what Chef Florent comes up with next!”
When loyal customers become the grassroots marketing team for a restaurant, that’s always a good sign. Californians seeking a Parisian dining experience – without the jet lag (or attitude!) – should march into Marché Moderne. Bon appetit.
Marché Moderne / 3333 Bristol Street, 3001 Costa Mesa, CA 92626 / 714 434 7900 / marchemoderne.net