630 Ninth Avenue at 44th St.
* Please note that Kaylyn, the girl who’s mentioned over and over in our story about Marseille and various comments below, is no longer on their staff. And since Kaylyn, a fellow celiac, was the one helping to educate co-workers about the gluten-free diet, you shouldn’t expect any employee at this restaurant to be more aware of your dietary needs than any other ol’ restaurant. However, we’re keeping Marseille on our list because, quite frankly, I go here all the time and I eat the panisse and never have I gotten sick. Also, there are still many naturally gf menu items on the menu, and whenever I have a question about ingredients, I’ve always managed to get my answer from the chef on duty. Marseille is a pre-theater favorite of many friends, thanks to my recommendation. I hope for our sake that Kaylyn has gone on to realize her dream of opening a fabulous gluten-free restaurant…
Ooh. We have found a fab French restaurant with a twist that serves a special treat which comes from the South of France and is gluten free. La. La!
Panisses are made of a chick pea dough which is cut into wedges or sticks and fried. You can find them at food stands on the beachfront boardwalks in Marseille, France, usually served in a paper cone. Although that scene sounds absolutely divine, Marseille restaurant and bar, located in Hell’s Kitchen, will transport you to a 1940′s French Morocco with its deco decor; dark wood, bright orange walls and red leather banquettes. Entrees range from $17 to $26.
Kaylyn, Marseille’s gifted bartender, has celiac disease and knows good food .. she’s also a chef. She has single-handedly educated the kitchen and waitstaff about gluten and its evil effects on people like us. So, asking questions about the existence of flour in a dish when you are not sure won’t result in that disconcerting look of ‘Huh?’ on your waiter’s face. But of course, mon ami, always have your patient and positive celiac community representative attitude ready, for waitstaff do come and go often in NYC.
Kelly and I started with gf vodka French Martinis (of course). Kaylyn introduced us to a vodka we hadn’t tried before called Ciroc, made from grapes. Good vodka, and a cocktail prepared avec amour. We decided on a selection of appetizers in addition to the panisses. The panisses are a perfectly fried crispy/chewy taste delight, served with a tangy aioli. To avoid deep fryer cross-contamination, ask politely for your panisses to be fried in the pommes frites dedicated fryer. Thanks to Kaylyn, they will accommodate us.
Next, Artichokes Barigoule, which is a lemony artichoke stew, was a perfect zippy compliment to the starchy panisses. Kaylyn highly recommended the Grilled Octopus, which was melt in your mouth, tossed in a colorful sweet and spicy relish. A champagne vinegar is used for the relish. In fact, all vinegars used in any of the dishes are either champagne, rice, or pure balsamic (no artificial fillers).
Ah, dessert. At this point, there was a couple sitting next to us at the bar who couldn’t help but stare, longingly, at the desserts we were about to devour. They were very nice, but we would have knocked them off their stools if they got any closer! Creme Brulee with fresh berries and strawberry champagne granita. Kelly sacrificed a clear complexion (she gets a rash from dairy) to indulge in this very classic very perfect brulee. Also, Meyer Lemon Chiboust with citrus confit and blood orange sorbet. Need I say more? Non.
More special thanks to Kaylyn, who, on top of everything else, sat down with me and marked up Marseille’s menus with symbols indicating the dishes which are gluten free and those which can be prepared gluten free. Study them before you go ..
There are so many other dishes that we want to try at Marseille. They also offer an award winning wine list and a variety of selections from La Grillade. Steak Frites will be MY next choice. And what do I expect? Nothing less than superbe.