First Look: (new) Marjorie
It was a couple years ago that I heard the news that Marjorie in Belltown would be closing. The building had been sold and the new owners were taking both the stationary store and the Marjorie space and converting it to one large restaurant. The space is now filled by Buckley’s. At the time I remember thinking that Marjorie’s owner, Donna Moodie, didn’t sound really confident about finding another location and reopening, although those were her stated plans.
Well three weeks ago I found my concerns were totally unjustified. The new Marjorie opened in a sleek, light-filled spot on Capitol Hill. Smaller than the old location with only 40 seats, this new place is bound to become one of Capitol Hill’s new hot spots. TS and I stopped by on Friday night and luckily we arrived shortly after the 5:00 pm opening or we would not have found a seat. Their website says they take some reservations but I’m guessing those will fill fast. This summer (if it ever arrives) seating will expand with the opening of a great little outdoor patio.
The kitchen is sort of half-open with part of it visible from the bar and dining room, but all of it can be seen through the big windows that face the sidewalk. Open shelving houses plates, cookbooks, and kitchen tools as well as the liquors behind the bar.
We sat at the bar and I was reminded how much staff and service can affect your experience in a space (restaurateurs are you listening?). Our bartender that night, Ben, was friendly, helpful and attentive. His recommendations were right on. We would have enjoyed the evening in any case as the food is wonderful but great service added a lot.
TS started with wine but I opted for a cocktail. My Rye Manhattan was deliciously crafted and beautifully presented. The wines are presented in small carafes, which is a trend I’m seeing across many restaurants and I personally love. While we were looking over the menu a woman farther down the bar was served a bowl of fried plantains. Immediately we decided to start with our own order and that was a great choice!
Thinly sliced lengthwise the gracefully curled chips filled a large bowl. The plantains were crispy and not a bit greasy. They come with a pineapple and avocado salsa. The pineapple is first grilled to a light char, chopped into small pieces and then formed into a small tower along with the avocado and tomato. It inspired me to start grilling my fruit.
We followed the chips with the pizza, topped with house-made ricotta – so smooth! When it’s out of the oven thinly-sliced prosciutto and a light green salad finish it off. Perfect summer eating. Light, but full of flavor.
We finished with a limoncello olive-oil cake, roasted strawberries and pistachio mousse. I don’t think we’d actually planned to order dessert but when we read that description on the menu we had to try it. The plate was finished with pieces of praline and fun strawberry sauce "drops". I loved the cake and the mousse. The roasted strawberries were interesting. Not that they were bad but I so love the fresh, spring taste of strawberry and I missed it a little. I imagine the roasting concentrates the flavor and can help a less than perfect strawberry taste riper. Personally, I’d wait for the gorgeous local berries that will be in market soon and make this dish with fresh berries. But that’s a small nit in the scheme of things.
I really like the new airy location. I almost hate to write about it since I think seats will be hard enough to come by as it is and once it’s on the city’s radar it may be next to impossible to find a seat. But the new Marjorie is too good not to share.
1412 E Union between 14th and 15th Avenues