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Continental Cuisine, Cruces-Style

The new Marc's European Grill seeks to appeal to sophisticated diners.

 

Marc's European Grill is a welcome and much-needed addition to the Las Cruces dining scene. The owner, Marc Laliberte, actually started serving locals his good food a couple of years ago from a mobile catering truck. He had an agreeable selection of sandwiches and such with complete vegetarian options, and usually parked at the Las Cruces Farmer's Market, or by the county office building at opportune times.

Now he has taken one of the ultimate risks in Las Cruces — opening a restaurant that has nothing to do with the words "fast," "ketchup" or "tortilla."

I have been to Marc's European Grill twice now, and came away very satisfied with both experiences. My second visit required me to "force" some friends, Michael and Jodi Walsh, to come with, since they are carnivores, and it seemed a little lopsided to review only Marc's daily vegetarian specials, which thankfully are always more than just a pasta with marinara sauce dish.

The place has a small but interesting European-influenced menu, which offers a bit of everything from seafood to poultry to steak to vegetarian, but all dishes are a unique recipe.

Each table is given a small basket of delicious and warm baguette-style bread, and the server will keep it coming if you just ask.

Jodi ordered the French onion soup, and was pleased with its presentation, goodly amount of cheese and onions, and texture. She did note that she prefers her soup with a bit more punch, but was satisfied otherwise.

Her entree was the Galinha ao Vinho, a Portuguese chicken dish. She reported that the chicken breast was moist and tender, gently coated with a well-seasoned broth of white wine, tomato, garlic and shallots. Again, she was satisfied, especially since it was well presented and the portion was just the right size for her appetite. The chicken was served with a nice rice dish, which was but one of the choices of side dishes.

Michael had the gazpacho, which he announced to be very good, with an enjoyable crunch provided by fresh cucumbers (chef Laliberte uses organics whenever possible), and a good blend of flavors. His entree, the Paella Valencia, was less satisfying. He felt the rice was a bit on the dry side, and more of a stage for the large amount and variety of seafood and meat that included shrimp, clams, mussels and also portions of chorizo and chicken.

Darling wife Sarah and I both had the "sirloin" tips (made with a soy version of sirloin) with a mild pepper sauce atop a bed of egg noodles and sautŽed veggies. I would not have refused an offer of seconds. Everything was just right for my appetite. I am not a fan of spicy food, and this dish had just the right blend of spice and flavor for me.

Sarah also had a salade maison, which is a nice combination of mixed organic greens, strawberries, pecans and blue cheese. She guarded her salad so well that I did not have a chance to dip my fork in it, so I will take her word that it was delightful.

A terrific-sounding selection of desserts was available, ranging from Peach Melba to New York Style Cheesecake. But our gluttony needed to end somewhere.

The meal was deemed a success, and one can hope that business will continue to pick up for the European Grill, which is at a high-traffic intersection in a building that once housed a convenience store. Not a trace of the site's former incarnation is left, as the d‚cor, mood and ambiance were right on the "marc" for this stylish place, which also features good service and occasional live music.

A beer and wine license application is pending. For now, a large selection of non-alcoholic beverages supplements the menu quite well.

A good experience all in all, and you would be doing other Las Cruces diners a favor if you moseyed on over to this unique and well-managed eatery.

— Jeff Berg

 

Marc's European Grill, 420 Avenida de Mesilla, Las Cruces, 647-1112. Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9:30 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-10:30 p.m., closed Sun.

 

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