CHICAGO — The black-on-black hip crowd and genteel old-guard diners all make their way to Marche, where Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Jam share CD time on the stereo.
Sound a little incongruous? Maybe. But Marche pulls it off with an undeniably adventurous restaurant experience.
Marche is the latest from the team that first ventured to this west Loop neighborhood with the chic Vivo. Where Vivo is the must-be-seen-at pasta emporium, Marche does its turn across the street with a French interpretation.
Suitably named for its location (Marche means market in French) in the wholesale produce and meat neighborhood on west Randolph Street, Marche seeks to please all the senses. Mahogany and glass dominate this wide-open space with curved walls and intensely colored accents.
Everybody, including the chef and his staff, has a chance to catch someone’s eye.
In the kitchen, set up near the front windows, pedestrians walking by and diners alike can see Chef Michael Kornick preparing familiar French specialties. The offerings include escargot bourguignon and entrees ranging from steak frites to duck confit. Simplicity is the key to the menu, Kornick says. “The cuisine is not that innovative, but it’s not comfort food either,” he says. Kornick points to the salmon with marinated artichokes or the pasta with shrimp and asparagus as simple yet flavorful dishes.
Marche obviously takes pride in its dessert menu as well, with 18 options broken into four sections: chocolate and nuts, fruits, ice creams and sorbets and finally custards. Choose the vanilla bean ice cream (made on the premises) with the rhubarb compote or the apple walnut bread pudding with warm caramel sauce.
Marche is located in the 11,000-square-foot former home of the Chicago Baking Company — a bright, newly renovated space where people go to be seen as much as to eat.