I’ve been trying to reduce my percentage of wasted restaurant meals—the places (usually newer ones) that I try, “just because they are there.” But some odd impulse last week brought me to Marble Lane at the Dream Hotel, a venue I should easily have guessed would be terrible.
The clues of a big-time fail are abundant, from the location slightly north of the Meatpacking District, to the heavy breathing from Eater’s Scott Solish when it opened. In charge are the same folks who created the money-printing machine (and culinary mediocrity) Tao, following it up with the even more dreadful Lavo.
As chef, they hired Manuel Treviño, who was famous for fifteen minutes on Top Chef (Season 4: eliminated after four episodes); then ran the now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t restaurant Travertine; and then moved to the aforementioned Lavo, where Sam Sifton goose-egged him. If you’re running Marble Lane, he’s just the guy you want. Right?
There’s a vaguely steak-focused “international menu,” and Grub Street tells us: “each steak will have its own twist.” Oh, dear. Prices are are in a wide range, but high, with appetizers $10–22, non-steak entrées $21–28, steaks (aged prime and “American Kobe”) $30–65, and sides $9–10.
On the wine list, it’s hard to do business below $60 a bottle. Cocktails, ranging from $14–16, are also on the expensive side. It all adds up, and before you’re done you’ve spent $100 or more a head for mediocre food.
Calamari ($18; above left), served as an appetizer, were rubbery.
Entrée portions are ample. If they aren’t great, they aren’t bad either: Loup de Mere ($25; above left), Romanian Skirt Steak ($39; above right). The latter is the same cut they serve at Sammy’s Romanian, but better quality (claimed to be American Kobe). It was an enormous portion I couldn’t finish. In a nicer room, I wouldn’t have minded it.
But Sammy’s at least has personality. Marble Lane is a cookie-cutter hotel restaurant, looking for a party that hasn’t started yet, and probably never will. Reservations are available any day, any time. The dining room was empty when I arrived, but it didn’t stop the hostess from administering this cold greeting: “Let me know when your guest is here and I’ll have you guys sat.”
There were no seats at the bar, so I trundled off to the charmless lounge, where I waited (and waited) for a server to notice me. Attractive twenty-somethings in tight black dresses walked by, skipping the restaurant and headed for one of the hotel’s various lounges.
Later this fall, the Spanish chef Miguel Romera is planning to open a restaurant in this same hotel, where he’ll charge $245 for a prix fixe tasting menu. I have no idea whether his food is worth that much. He earned two Michelin stars in Spain, so I give him the benefit of the doubt. But among those who are willing to drop that much coin on a meal, who would do so at this dismal hotel? I wish him good luck with that.
Marble Lane (355 W. 16th St between 8th & 9th Avenues, in the Dream Hotel)