Sunday, July 25, 2004

Port of Marseilles - Restaurant Review

Just returned from a lovely afternoon at Port of Marseilles, the most recent addition to the local restaurant empire of Island theatrical legend Jim Stayoch. Jim's the man behind such Island culinary institutions as Adobe Blues and Killmeyers, and his newest venture may be the most satisfying of all, at least from a foodie's standpoint.

Though some have, if not derided certainly chided, Port of Marseilles for its strong sense of themeing...

via chowhound

"Was nervous when we walked in as there is a kind of Disney-esque quality to the atmosphere, and a few guys wearing shorts hanging at the bar. A faux cobblestone floor, murals of a French town along the walls, almost like being on a stage set."

... Port of Marseilles is to be commended for going beyond the bog standard usually applied to Staten Island restaurants interior design. There's something to be said for establishing the proper atmosphere for a dining experience and as Disneyesque as PoM's decor may seem, it's head and shoulders above what Staten Island diners have become used to.

The food at PoM, and that's what's really important, is well above Island average - okay, that's not saying much, but if your trapped on this little slice of heaven we call home then you'll certainly appreciate the extra degree of care and attention the kitchen at PoM pays to their finished product. As a rule of thumb - the more "French" a menu selection, the more likely you're expectations will be exceeded. Something as universal as the Filet Mignon or Breast of Chicken are merely good - basically no better or worse than they should be (especially when the Fois Gras "crown" on the Beef is so badly overcooked). However there are some more common dishes that transcend their familiarity including a wonderful Sea Bass. In fact all the fish dishes here are superb - as are a number of the starters - you must get the Pate - best on Staten Island, no contest.

The service was decidedly uneven- there were a number of times where little things were asked for - sugar, drink orders, extra fork - but were unforthcoming until further requests were made - on a busy night a couple of these episodes can be forgiven but a meal full of them on a slow Sunday afternoon? We also asked for a dollop of mashed potatoes, purreed veggies or some other smooth food for a baby not yet into chewing and the best they could offer was salad dressing - apparently they couldn't spare a couple of tablespoons of anything for us. Instead of exceeding expectations the wait staff, and whoever sent them back from the kitchen empty handed, barely met them.

Other than the occasionally lackluster service the meal proceeded flawlessly and left everyone busily planning their next trip to Stayoch's gallic theme park.

While I'm no fan of the current French political scene and the truly disgraceful way they have handled the war against terror, a visit to Port of Marseilles lets us concentrate on the food that helps define the culture of a still great and compelling nation.

Port of Marseilles Website