If you follow me on Twitter (and you should), then you're undoubtedly aware of my commuting adventures and may have caught wind of some of my observations while riding the bus. Devoting so much time to travel doesn't leave me as much time to explore the rich culinary landscape of New York as much as I'd like, and being beholden to a bus schedule often hinders me from actually enjoying the dining experiences that I can squeeze in.
I think that's why I jumped at the chance to attend a preview luncheon at Marble Lane, the Steak Joint + Bar situated in the lobby of the Dream Downtown Hotel. Executive Chef Manuel Treviño created an all-new menu to celebrate the launch of lunch service at the restaurant, and I couldn't wait to see how his globally-influenced cooking style would be represented. I often feel removed from the New York dining scene, so I just had to accept the invitation to get in a little before everyone else.
As one might expect from an establishment in the Meatpacking District, the decor offered a mixture of textures, from wood to leather to, obviously, marble. Alternating lampshades in animal-print patterns added a playfulness to the space that I really enjoyed. I knew we were in the lobby of a hotel, but it didn't feel like we were in the lobby of a hotel. Despite being centrally located, the restaurant felt separate from what was happening around us.
I brought along my friend Jessica to help me work through the items on the lunch menu, and, thank God she was with me. Choosing which dishes to try proved to be quite an affair!
To start, we ordered the Quinoa and Watercress Salad ($16) served with Grilled Jumbo Shrimp, Roasted Market Vegetables, and Crispy Tortilla Strips. The presentation was stunning, and my mouth started watering before I even lifted my fork. The quinoa was moist and flavorful, dressed with a delicately seasoned vinaigrette, and the shrimp, seasoned simply with salt and pepper, were grilled perfectly. The combination of flavors was surprising and enjoyable, and, by the time we finished the salad, I had wished we had thought to order two servings. Definitely one of my favorite dishes of the entire meal.
The listing of sandwiches on the menu had us pegged between the Lobster Roll and the Steak Sandwich ($16). As tempting as the Lobster Roll sounded, I pushed for the Steak Sandwich. It seemed ridiculous to skip ordering something with steak in it since we were at the "Steak Joint + Bar". The combination of steak, arugula, caramelized onions, and provolone seemed like a no-brainer.
Unfortunately, the sandwich left me feeling mighty disappointed. I discovered an unexpected slathering of mayonnaise on the bread when I took my first bite. The situation was completely my fault, and I kicked myself for not asking our server about the presence of mayo before I ordered the sandwich. Mayonnaise aside, the steak was cut a too thick and was a little overcooked, making it difficult to bite into. Plus, the use of focaccia was questionable since it took no time at all for the bread to go soggy.
While the Steak Sandwich still needs some tweaking, Jessica and I were in agreement that the French fries that accompanied the sandwich were delicious. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and seasoned with a delicate hand, the fries were served with plenty of ketchup on the side for dipping. On the side is very important.
Another letdown came by way of the Crab Cake Benedict ($18) with Grilled Asparagus, Roasted Red Pepper, and Whole Grain Mustard Hollandaise. While the crab cakes themselves were stuffed with crab rather than filler, the asparagus left behind an unfortunate bitter taste on everything it touched. Plus, there was just too much hollandaise. The flavor of the whole grain mustard overpowered everything else on the plate making it difficult to enjoy the subtle sweetness of the crab cakes.
The better option would be to skip the Crab Cake Benedict altogether and spend that $18 on the Handmade Pappardelle with Lamb Ragu, Fresh Peas, and Pecorino Romano. One bite of this dish instantly transported me back to Tuscany and reminded me so much of the Pappardelle al Cinghiale (Pappardelle with Wild Boar) that Stephen and I shared while on our honeymoon in September. The pasta still had some bite to it and played well, in a textural sense, with the meaty creaminess of the lamb and the burst of the peas. I would make the trek down to the Meatpacking District again and again just for this dish; it's a definite must-order.
As is the side order of Triple Cream Whipped Potatoes ($6). Honestly... did we need the potatoes after ordering so many rich dishes? No.
But could we ignore a dish that included three types of cream? Hell no.
If you're looking for something a little sinful to eat during lunch, then don't skip the heavenly decadence (did you see what I did there?) of these potatoes. They're worth every luscious bite and every itty-bitty calorie.
Just as Jessica and I were putting on our coats to leave, our server arrived with a plate of mini desserts. We didn't think we had the room for any more food, but we pushed through and, somehow, managed to try them all. Our favorites were the Key Lime Pie and the Brownie -- the perfect sweet ending to a lovely meal.
If you find yourself in the Meatpacking District looking for somewhere to eat lunch, then pop into the Downtown Dream Hotel and grab a table at Marble Lane. Their new lunch menu will certainly have something to suit all tastes.
In the lobby of the Downtown Dream Hotel
355 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 229-2336 | Online Reservations | Map
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I was invited, along with a guest, to attend a preview luncheon at Marble Lane at no cost. I did not accept monetary compensation for writing about our meal or about our experiences while at the restaurant. All opinions expressed are my own.