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Mostrador Marram Is Magical

Mon, 08/08/2022 - 11:37
Mastrodor Marram is a place to enjoy great food on the ocean in a super casual atmosphere.
Laura Donnelly

Mostrador Marram, where have you been all my life or at least for the past four years you have existed in our midst?

I have visited this charming, casual, oceanfront dining spot within the Marram Hotel twice recently. On my second visit with my friends Terri and Donald, they were so enchanted they started planning on somehow using the venue for their son's upcoming nuptials. They also delicately inquired as to how this review could be complimentary, but not TOO complimentary, so we can all still get in.

"Mostrador" roughly translates to "counter, bar, desk, check-in." "Marram" is a type of coarse coastal beach grass. Mostrador Marram is the creation of two men: Fernando Trocca and Martin Pittaluga, who have three restaurants in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay.

Upon arriving at Marram, you can park anywhere and walk right past the young lady in a booth at the entrance, for she will be preoccupied with her fascinating cellphone which clearly holds the key to all happiness in life.

You will see the open kitchen, an ordering area, a chalkboard menu, and some comfortable seating right outside the kitchen. Walk up toward the water and there is a bar, lots of lounging areas, and plenty of seating arrangements right on the ocean. The pool is nearby, and a sandy area with fire pits (for D.I.Y. s'mores) is tucked into a less windy part of the hotel.

If you prefer white tablecloths, attentive waitstaff, china plates, and not being exposed to the elements, then this place is not for you. But if you don't mind briny breezes, biodegradable glasses and utensils, and fairly high prices in spite of the casual atmosphere, then you will appreciate this little jewel.

We began our meal with the eggplant Milanese, broccolini, striped bass tartare, and boquerones made with bluefish. The eggplant dish was four crunchy-coated ovals of tender eggplant, topped with small cubes of pineapple, shaved fennel and radish, sprigs of cilantro, and a drizzle of chile oil. The combination made the eggplant crisp, tart, sweet, tangy, and a wee bit spicy. Delicious. 

The broccolini is cooked just enough and topped with thin slices of Parmesan, croutons (more like migas, little breadcrumbs fried in olive oil), chopped toasted hazelnuts, and a generous sprinkle of mint leaves. This is a party in your mouth. The striped bass tartare was simple and fresh, paper-thin slices of striped bass in a puddle of ponzu with julienned radishes and scallion curls. 

The boquerones with bluefish was another winner. It was tiny cubes of bluefish, avocado, and onion in a vinegary sauce topped with thin slices of kohlrabi and lemon zest. It is worth mentioning that on a previous visit we tried the gem lettuce salad with pistachio pesto, peaches, and spicy pistachio crunch, and it, too, was superb.

For entrees we ordered the lamb chops, short ribs, and cavatelli. The lamb chop entree was three rib chops served with tender-as-can-be sweet confit of leeks and sprinkled with lots of parsley. The chimichurri sauce was tart and herbal with fresh oregano and vinegar to cut through the fine fatty chops. The short ribs were another winner, four chunks of very tender and flavorful meat with salsa criolla, a tangy tangle of slivered red onion, jalapenos, vinegar, and cilantro. The accompanying roasted fingerling potatoes are worth the trip alone, crisp on the outside, fluffy within, with a generous dusting of flaky sea salt. 

The cavatelli was also excellent, full of sliced green and white asparagus, plenty of raw and cooked mushrooms, and topped with a cloud of finely micro-planed Parmesan cheese that just melted into the brothy sauce.

There are only two desserts at a time at Mostrador Marram. On this visit they were banana cheesecake and pavlovas. The banana cheesecake was very good, dense and rich (duh), and topped with a drizzle of dulce de leche, bruleed banana slices, and cocoa nibs. The pavlova was a big meringue nest filled with whipped creme fraiche and topped with strawberries, peaches, and raspberries. The creme fraiche was a nice change from the traditional whipped cream as it has a nice tartness to it that contrasts nicely with the sweet crisp shell. It is worth mentioning that on our previous recon mission they had a chocolate mousse that all five of us agreed was one of the best we have ever tried.

The staff and chefs and cooks and bartendresses are all friendly, happy, helpful, and professional. You can get a buzzer to find out when your food is ready to pick up or they may bring it to you. Like I said, this is a casual situation.

Prices at Mostrador Marram are $18 to $24 for appetizers, $38 to $42 for entrees, and $14 for desserts.

On our first visit (before I knew I'd be reviewing) my table mates put me up to introducing myself to the kitchen staff, mostly because they are so darned good-looking. They invited me into the kitchen, introduced me to the whole crew (all five of them), showed me the pastry area, and treated us to desserts. Such generosity and pride.

So, as I said before, if you don't appreciate having your hair start to resemble an ungroomed Labradoodle, sand in your toes, eco-friendly tableware, and damp breezes that may cool your food before you've finished, this may not be the place for you. But if you appreciate being right on the ocean, watching the waves and children making their own s'mores by the fires, superb food, and a jolly staff, you might just love Mostrador Marram as much as I do.

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