CLOSED: Marble Lane
355 West 16th Street, Chelsea, (212) 229-2336
Getting There: A,C,E to 14th Street
Restaurant Review: Marble Lane
(This restaurant has since CLOSED)
Our experience at The Dream Hotel’s downtown location, just askew of the Meatpacking District, was an interesting one to say the least. Our party of two sat comfortably in the off to the side hotel lobby’s chic, open restaurant, watching table after table arrive at their tables after us, be served and consume their meals, and be on their way before we even lifted our fork. These experiences are certainly exceptions, especially inside of establishments of this ilk. But they are dining experiences nonetheless, and despite the circumstances we’re about to describe, the Dream’s Marble Lane managed to remedy their relationship with us, to the extent that we’re actually itching to go back.
Dodging a veritable barricade of black suits and dresses headed to a private party in one of the hotel’s adjacent rooms, we emerge from some aperitifs at the Dream’s PhD, a massive rooftop lounge providing some outstanding views of the downtown area. Marble Lane itself, is first and foremost a sprawling, higher end restaurant that serves American-nouveau fare, and is perhaps best known for their steaks. Equipped with a lengthy, illuminated bar area, the dining room is just off to the side from the hotel’s main entrance and its elevators, which seems sort of peculiar while checking in at the hoststand. But just steps away, the tables and clientele immediately transform the area from drab lobby bar to a scenester-laden, decorative atmosphere, fancy enough to stand out on its own.
Dimly lit all around, the large bulbs overhead manage to provide ample sightlines toward the nearby patrons and their dishes, all of which look delicious. And the plush leather, half circle booths provide a comfort that brings about that traditionally authentic steakhouse feel. The cuts here are less traditional and are offered up distinctively seasoned (although you can opt for any of them to be prepared normally- grilled with sea salt and black pepper), and are priced toward the higher end of a typical steakhouse ceiling (For instance, the “Cowboy Bone-In Ribeye” is $65).
Rife with appetizer selections seemingly popping up on menus all across The City, like the “Crispy Sweetbreads” ($15) and “Peekytoe Crabcakes” ($18), we instead headed straight for the Raw Bar and the “Small Seafood Plateau” ($48), which was both delicious and well priced. The two tiered, ice stacked tower was delightfully plated- 3 giant shrimp, 6 oysters, 4 littleneck clams, a delicious half-lobster, and two small bowls- 1 tuna ceviche and 1 delectable mussel cucumber salad- and served with all of the requisite dipping sauces and accoutrements.
With the seafood completely devoured, we eschewed the chicken and fish fare for the red meat offerings. Marble Lane’s steak menu is divided between their ‘prime cuts’ and their ‘American Kobe’ selections with different cuts like the “Teppanyaki Ponzu Hanger” ($38), the “Kobe London Broil ($34)” and the “L.E.S. Romanian Skirt” (42), being prime examples of their uniqueness. Along with a side of “Brussels sprouts” ($9), we opted for their “Pepper Crusted Center Cut Filet” ($45), served smothered in a sauce Diane, served with roasted shallots and the medium rare “Carne Asada” ($48), a New York strip streak cooked traditionally, with the poblano, pico de gallo, and cippolini onion all plated on the side, to get a taste of the cut’s naturally prepared flavors.
And then we waited. And waited. And waited. Our server seemed simply bewildered by the delay as we watched table after table enjoying their entrees. We patiently looked on, with the wait nearing a robust forty minutes before we finally started appearing agitated. Without so much as an explanation, the manager came over apologetically and offered up a round of drinks- a fine gesture of goodwill- but one that came far too late in the delay for our liking and one that we requisitely declined. As our patience was running out, our food majestically appeared- the filet looked saucy but scrumptious, however the strip was not as fortunate. Clearly, the dish was directed out of the kitchen with all of the toppings atop “Carne Asada,” only most of them were pulled off at the last minute. The plate underneath was ensconced in dried up steak juices and the subsequent remaining peppers hidden beneath the steak revealed as much- all of which mind you, we’d come to grips with. The medium well temperature (a definite no-no in any steakhouse) however was unacceptable under any circumstance, and especially so after such a delay. Our server’s confirmation that the dish had been overcooked immediately brought out the return of the same manager, who did the night justice by comping much of our bill and offering us a gift card to return- both of which, we graciously accepted.
So after such a nuisance, why would we consider returning to this place after being so wronged? Our motives are simple. The steaks, were outstanding. The filet was peppery, prepared at a perfect temperature, and was tender and juicy all at once- everything we had hoped the Strip would be. Even the overcooked “Carne Asada” managed an explosion of flavors that had us longing for the proper preparation and wondering what may have been. But most importantly, despite our aggravation, Marble Lane managed to recognize and rectify the problems, going out of their way to negate the damage that had been done and do their best to control anything that was within their means to do so. Dining out in Manhattan isn’t always perfect but by delivering some food that was exceptional and by doing right by us as our evening was collapsing, Marble Lane has at least earned a second attempt at the dining experience we’d hoped for.