The historic L.A. Farmer's Market has always been one of my favorite places to go on a Sunday morning / afternoon. It reminds me of an open air market in Hawaii, with its laid back atmosphere and plethora of stalls serving tasty food of all cuisine types at very reasonable prices.
Among the abundant selections, my favorite spot is Monsieur Marcel - which offers culinary experiences in two parts - an al fresco bistro and an attached gourmet market.
The bistro part of Monsieur Marcel feels very relaxed and European - in fact, every time I've gone, I've seen French natives take leisurely (i.e. three hour) brunch / coffee breaks there. It's one of the few places in the Farmer's Market that has it's own sit-down service - other stalls are set up food court style - you order and pick up your own food at the counter, then find your own seat in the open space.
The menu has a large number of offerings which all had us salivating on sight, including escargot, salade nicoise, foie gras, steak tartare, moules marinieres, quiche lorraine, bouillabaisse, coq au vin and many, many other French staples.
I decided to go with Boeuf Bourguignon ($15.49), as I know from past attempts to make this at home - that it takes almost an entire day of prep and cooking time to infuse all the rich flavors in the dish, plus it takes two bottles of burgundy wine which in itself would cost $20 minimum - so this dish is one that I have decided to only order at restaurants unless a special occasion calls for a home-made rendition. Monsieur Marcel doesn't disappoint - the stew was rich with flavor and the wine in the sauce made me want to lap up every last drop, with the help of the basket of fresh baguette bread.
To accompany the stew, we ordered some Truffle Frites ($7.00) - though they were not as good as the ones at Petrossian (which were fresh fried, and thicker cut - allowing more real estate to infuse with truffle flavor), as you can see I was stuffing my face so fast with these that I didn't even notice one had fallen into my stew!
My friend ordered a dish off the Chef's Selections menu - braised short rib with a bunch of ingredients that I now can't remember ($14.95), which she also thought was delicious!
Another benefit of dining at Monsieur Marcel is that you can walk off the meal afterwards either within the Farmer's Market (and stop at the various stalls for samples or dessert - there's a great crepe stall in about the center of the market), or hit the shops at The Grove next door.
For us, after the meal, we headed straight for the Monsieur Marcel Gourmet Market, just next to the dining area. They have the most amazing imported cheeses (including Brillat Savarin - with papaya!), chocolates (anything from mass selections like Cadbury's Crunchie bar, to the more refined Vosges bacon chocolate bar), olive oils, vinegars, spices and of course wines. They are also the only place I've seen offer a baby baguette ($1.15) - my favorite as I can NEVER finish the full-sized ones and hate wasting half a stick of bread every time.
All in all, a great place for a leisurely Sunday brunch / stroll!
On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 4 bites
Presentation - 3 bites
Originality - 2 bites
Ambience - 4 stars
Service - 3 stars
Overall experience - 5 bites
Price - $ (1 bite mark)
Probability of return visit - 90%
Monsieur Marcel Pain Vin et Fromage
Third and Fairfax
Los Angeles, CA