Farm to Glass at the Marshal in NYC

photo by Amanda Schuster
photo by Amanda Schuster

Farm to table is a popular dining concept that sadly tends to be just that, a concept, and not a reality. Sure, the ingredients are fresh, but the farm in question isn’t necessarily in close proximity to the table on which they’re served.

Charlie Marshall, chef/owner of the Marshal in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, understands that customers know the difference. All of the ingredients for his food are sourced no more than an hour’s drive from the city. And what’s even more rare and serious about his concept, all the drinks are local too.

John Fazio Farm Burrata
John Fazio Farm Burrata

Marshall told me that a few years ago, opening a restaurant with a New York-centric wine list (including the 2012 Cave Spring Riesling and 2010 Arrowhead Spring Syrah, hail from the Niagara Escarpment, on the tip of the NY border) would have been a huge risk. However, not only has the quality, variety and availability of New York state wines shown rapid growth in the past few years, particularly in the North Fork and Fingerlakes, so has their acceptance by the wine community. In fact, a few of them are produced in such limited quantities, almost on the level of some Napa cult favorites, that people have come to the Marshal specifically to seek them out.

Much like the wine menu, the spirits selection is mostly local from Brooklyn and NY state, though some of the distilleries reach a bit farther afield, extending to Massachusetts (Berkshire Mountain Distillers), Vermont (Smuggler’s Notch), West Virginia (Smooth Ambler), North Carolina (Defiant), Pennsylvania (Boyd and Blair) and Washington, DC (Filibuster.) The beers and ciders also represent breweries from NY state, Maine (Allagash), Maryland (Flying Dog), Pennsylvania (Victory), and New Jersey (River Horse).

Nothing on the menu is out of season unless it’s been preserved by Marshall himself when it was. This proves a challenge when it comes to the cocktails.. Shaken drinks on the menu such as the Oh Bee-Have with Catskill Provisions honey and Honey Rye call for lemon juice, one of the precious few exceptions he makes for outsourced produce. However, he tells me he’s been tinkering with replacing the lemons with other acids, including fresh verjus, the pressed juice of young, unripe grapes, which he sources from local wineries. Genius!

This painstaking attention to detail and freshness pays off when the plates of food arrive. Burrata cheese with a NY accent from John Fazio Farms comes with basil pesto, summer squash and sea salt from Martha’s vineyard. A sprinkle of hazelnuts give it added crunch and roasty depth, and all the flavors complement each other, as well as the Palmer Vineyards 2013 Albariño with which it was paired. On the side was addictive fresh bread par-baked at Three Monks Bakery ("a grandfathered coal oven in Brooklyn that my friend owns") and finished in the Marshal’s wood oven, served hot with creamy, fresh butter. Deviled eggs are topped with crispy duck prosciutto. Anyone in the mood for something meaty would be challenged to commit to just one entrée choice between pork ribs, lamb shank, bacon wrapped pork loin and sirloin tips (for pescatarians there’s rainbow trout, monkfish and mussels), all beautifully presented with colorful farm fresh veggies and potatoes, ranging from $22 - $29. One can also make a meal of just sides such as meatballs, sweet potato and kale au gratin, stuffed zucchini blossoms, duck fat potatoes, snap pea salad with ricotta and other delights for $8 each, 3 for $22 or 5 for $34.

Charlie Marshall, ctsy the Marshal
Charlie Marshall, ctsy the Marshal

Marshall wouldn’t let me leave without tasting the restaurant’s signature spring/summer dessert, a strawberry shortcake with blackberry syrup, berries and balsamic infused whipped cream, which somehow manages to be both decadent and light. I challenged him to find a still wine to pair with it. His solution was the 2008 Grapes of Roth Merlot from Wölffer Estate, which matched every component on the plate - the acid of the berries and the balsamic cream, as well as the fruity sweetness of the syrup, letting the spongecake soak it all up. This was yet another example of how his impressive palate works, and how he considers the flavor structure of each ingredient he presents.

strawberry shortcake made with love, photo by Amanda Schuster
strawberry shortcake made with love, photo by Amanda Schuster

The Marshal

628 Tenth Avenue, between 44th and 45th streets

(212)582-6300

Sunday- Thursday: Open 11am-11pm

Friday and Saturday: Open 11am-1am

Come for: fresh, beautifully presented dishes with local ingredients at reasonable prices from snacks to satisfying mains that even your vegetarian and gluten free dinner guests can make peace with.

Stay for: an eclectic range of local wines, beer (with gluten-free options!) and spirits. See if they’ll mix something up for you with verjus.

Don’t: try to order a Cally Chardonnay or Cab. However, they will do their best to find a suitable substitute from the local wine list that might even make a nonbeliever fuhgeddabout their favorite Cally wine.