Thursday, April 10, 2014
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There was a time back in 2010 when we were far more about cocktails than we were about restaurants and that's when The Peachy Deegan was created, which is ONLY made with Star Vodka. (Charles Ferri is starring on a new tv show-stay tuned we are talking to NBC Universal about it. We are going to call it The Charles Ferri Show but the Esquire Channel will be calling it something else.) The Peachy Deegan will eventually be relaunched however logistics are being sorted out and Charles has been busy in front of a camera, and if you've read the about 10,000 posts since 2010, you know what Peachy has been busy with. Since she's got a cocktail named after her, Peachy is even more discriminating when it comes to finding great restaurants that specialize in cocktails. We love only quality cocktails, and we can assure you our new friend Frank Locker knows what he is doing at Venus and Marc. At lesser venues, cocktails can be made with poor mixers (horrors!) or unpure ingredients or using alcohol that leaves you unwell the following day. The next morning after Vinus and Marc, Peachy had surprise visitors and was just fine.
Vinus and Marc was first featured in Terrific Takeout:
When we arrived for the review, Frank graciously greeted us at the door and had a beautiful table ready for us. The decor at Vinus and Marc is beautifully crimson, and the chairs are comfortable. This is not your second avenue dive at all-it is the furthest thing from it in fact. Classy music from Sinatra to Dion you'll hear in the background, and it is loud enough to hear but not so loud that it's disturbing. Vinus and Marc is pleasant.
Peachy began with the Madcap, which is described accurately on the menu as "amusingly eccentric." Austrian Gin is used (see above) and Peachy Deegan was delighted to have her gin country of origin match her jacket country of origin, because of course she was wearing Geiger. The Madcap is composed of Sage-infused gin, blackberries, Averna, honey, lemon and soda and is one delightfully complex cocktail to begin with. We'd order it again. Also you should know they are serious about their glasses at Vinus and Marc, which is also indicative of the quality of this venue. The oval glasses are made in Italy and are single phase crystal.
Our panelist had the Dewdropper, which she'll tell you about:
As an appetizer, Peachy chose the Golden-Fried Calamari with garlic aioli sauce:
The cajun seasoning was smashing and paired also with dijon mustard, ketchup and garlic salt, these were the perfect companions to join our cocktails.
House-Seasoned Pomme Frites were also amazing!
We are advocates of a balanced diet, and when we see salads at a cocktail restaurant we like to try them. The green salad we chose was the Pan-Roasted Chicken Salad. It was fresh and crisp, and all components were cut evenly and appropriately. Peachy even liked the dressing which was house-made creamy caesar and that rosemary and garlic marinated roast chicken was very good. As Frank used to live in Bordeaux, he knows a lot about French wine so we were happy to try his selections:
Steak Frites is always a convincing choice for us, and at Vinus and Marc you will like the Grass-fed Angus Skirt Steak served with vibrant Chimichurri sauce and classic frites. They hit the spot and the Bordeaux we tried with it was just perfect. The steak was grilled well to medium and the slices were ideal.
If you are an avid reader, Peachy is always asking after robust Italian reds...and Frank has those too you should know!
The Rubesto, Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2010 was a splendid suggestion which we sipped happily.
The final edible selection was a lovely chocolate torte, arranged nicely with strawberries which were fresh and ripe despite being out of season at the time.
Finally, we had to get in The Last Word. Yes, that's a cocktail name and the cocktail that Peachy tried last. Created in the early 1920's in Detroit (we love the detailed menu descriptions, sometimes with the history like this) where it was first served at the Detroit Athletic Club, The Last Word is: Dry Gin, green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime. A great ending!
Our esteemed panelist adds:
Second Avenue is Adventureland these days in Manhattan. With the subway construction prolific and pervasive, just to walk down the street is like a dodge and weave game of bumper cars on Coney Island. But then, New York City is always an adventure. Make it a point to get over to 2nd Avenue, though, because there's a new place that brings Downtown Uptown. Vinus and Marc do the Great Gatsby thing without overt stylized decor. The atmosphere is red, gold and black, but it does in no way suggest bordello. It's warm, with armchairs for relaxing at the tables, and crystal glassware made in Italy for your cocktail of choice. Which brings me to a favorite subject: the cocktails! What a raucous Jazz Age selection of imaginative ingredients and scintillating names. It is said that a flapper from the day, now a blessed 97 year old helped forge the list, bringing to bear ingredients and titles from her fringe flapping days. If you love tequila, go for the Baby Vamp which is Frank's favorite. The Madcap is gin based, with a sage infusion, blackberries, Averna, honey, lemon and soda. Whatever your liquor of preference, there's an imaginative combo for you. Savor the cocktail hour in a comfy red velvet arm chair and watch the world go by outside on the Avenue. I started with the Dewdropper, described as "a young man who sleeps all day and doesn't have a job." It's a mix of bourbon, nocino, sweet vermouth, and Brooklyn Hemispherical Black Mission Fig Bitters.
It would be very easy to hop in just for a cocktail, but the menu will tantalize your tastebuds, and you won't want to leave without trying at least one thing on the menu. Give yourself some time, because even though the atmosphere is relaxed and casual, there are choices here so varied you will want to try, and time is what you need to indulge. A suggestion: start with the oysters on the menu, and please enjoin the owner in a conversation about his trips to the market to choose the perfect ones everyday. They were delectable, with a hint of brine, not bland at all. The waiter suggested a Muscadel to pair with the oysters, and it was crisp, just the right note for these wild oysters.
Onto the Shrimp and Grits, not just because the steaming plate of Parmigiano, Reggiano laced grits was calling my name, but because it's not something you find everywhere. The creaminess of the perfectly cooked grits balances the fresh snap of a prime Tiger shrimp.
They are served on a bed of lobster and garlic reduction sauce, flavored with roasted red peppers. Delightful, and just enough. The wine of choice with the shrimp was a Portugese Dao, Quinta Dos Roques, 2010.
I'll trust the Portuguese any day for their taste in wines with seafood, fishermen and sailors that they were down through the ages. You'll find the wine list a creative combination of winning surprises and familiar grapes from exotic chateaux. Vinus and Marc has a bar manager who strives for the unusual, the intriguing, the aromatic. Vinus and Marc is certainly a place to frequent, if only to try the different selections of the bar menu, the wine list, and maybe a quick appetizer. But once inside, you'll want to stay for the whole treatment. It may be a destination for some, but it's worth the trip if you're not local. If you are lucky enough to be local, you've found a new home. B
y the way, the cocktails were enjoyed with a plate of hand-cut french fries. The remoulade that comes with is a balance of mayonnaise, cornichons, capers and white pepper.
We split the lobster roll that is not just a lobster roll, because it sounds so wonderful on the menu. Louisiana Crawfish poached in butter, with lobster and dijonnaise pressed flat like a Cuban sandwich and really, really good.
Take time out for a little Porto: Kopke, LBV, 2007 and just the ticket for an end of meal. If that's your dessert, fine. Finish it with an expresso, and you'll be sated. But if you like cheesecake, you'll want to try it here. There is no comparison to any of the marketed brands out in the world of New York cheesecakes.
Not at all. Light, creamy, just sweet enough, it will melt on your tongue in a moment, and leave your feeling not heavy, but happy and perhaps ready for a cocktail for the road. Oh, yes, the Scofflaw awaits! It made it's debut in 1924 at Harry's Bar in Paris, and has rye whiskey, dry vermouth, lemon and house made grenadine in it. Rye whiskey was a favorite of my grandmother's, so her ghost was telling me to have this cocktail, I suppose. Please allow me to discuss this grenadine for a minute here. No sugar syrup long lost cousin in this cocktail. Their grenadine is red wine vinaigrette, dijon, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper and a splash of champagne. How's that for just one ingredient in a cocktail? By now, it should be apparent that the owner goes to any lengths to coax the unusual from what could very well be a formula bar. No formula here. Vinus and Marc is comfortable, and the food is sensational. The bar is unique, and you'll want one of everything if you are a toe-tapping Dandy from the lost age of beads and feathers. Uptown fans of Gatsby, you'll feel right at home, even if you're not in period dress, but work mufti. Jeans can feel just as at home here as a tuxedo. And that's not an easy thing to pull off.
Peachy Picks Vinus and Marc!
Vinus and Marc is Recommended by Whom You Know.