Marx Bros. Café is in a small 102 year old house with two of the rooms set up with 14 small tables. The restaurant originally was a wine club run by 4 guys who moved it into this house in 1979. Apparently the moving night was reminiscent of a Marx Brothers movie and thus the name changed to Marx Bros. Café from the Wednesday Night Gourmet Wine Tasting Society. The tables are nicely spaced and set with white tableclothes and napkins. Music played in the background and the walls are filled with photos and paintings. A staircase divided the two dining rooms and those walls were lined with awards and certificates, which you can study, as it led to the bathroom. They left the back and front doors open because they didn’t seem to have air conditioning. The many windows on the wall of the house didn’t appear to be operational. The menu was small but did offer a couple nightly specials. The general manager also served as the sommelier and while they have an adequate wine list they offer no hard liquor. Service was scattered but pleasant.
Bread service offered 3 types of rolls – cheese, olive and something- all were dry and unexciting.
Sauteed Halibut Cheeks were plated with black bean ginger beurre blanc and salmon caviar. They were nice with a pot-roast like texture to the cheek meat. A bit of sesame added a tasty touch and the salmon eggs added a briny taste. They were really good.
Alaska Oysters were on the half shell with pepper vodka-pickled ginger sorbet. They stayed briny with a tad of spice. Very nice.
Van’s Caesar Salad is their version of the Tijuana classic prepared tableside for two or more. The anchovy was crushed with the garlic balsamic olive oil which made if blend in more evenly than just a couple strips across the top. Good parmesan and a poached egg finished the dressing for the outer Romaine leaves. It was very good and savory with a nice garlic overtone. My only objection here was using the outer leaves as opposed to the hearts of the lettuce.
Cook Inlet Sockeye Salmon was pan seared with smoked paquillo pepper vinaigrette, roasted red potatoes, grilled artichoke, asparagus and seabeans. The amazing ingredient on this plate were the tiny roasted red potatoes. They were delicious. The fish was perfectly cooked and blended well with the other ingredients for a nice plate of food.
A special that evening was Rockfish baked in parchment paper with shrimp and crab in a rich sauce. The shrimp worked best with the sauce and the cooking method muted a fishy flavor. It was served beside Israeli cous cous and brocolini. It all looked better than it was. I’d call it just okay.
For dessert we had their Warm Berry Crisp which was strawberries, blackberries and raspberries baked with a crumb topping with birch syrup-butter pecan ice cream. Another item that sounded way better than it was. The crumb topping was too dry and didn’t have the shortness of a good buttery crumb. The berries didn’t blend into a sweet mixture, they were quite tart and while the ice cream helped it couldn’t save it.