Date visited: 7/26/08
Mom and I were completely undecided about where we wanted to have lunch. When this happens, we usually grab "the list." "The list" is made up of reader requests, places we've been but haven't reviewed, and interesting restaurants that Mom found on the Internet. After some discussion about what kind of food we wanted, and after a failed attempt at visiting another Westport restaurant, we decided to revisit a place that we enjoyed tremendously - Marguerite's. Located in the Village Commons Plaza (down the road from the popular Lees Market), we pulled into the parking area at 4:30 p.m.
Mom and I were a little concerned that we wouldn't be able to get a table here, as there were only 12 of them the last time we visited. However, once we walked through the door, a waitress told us that we could pick any table we wanted - and there were at least four available. Mom wanted to sit near the window, but I wanted to sit at a table that would allow me to get a good picture of the adorable dining area. Looking back, this was a mistake. The table we ended up choosing was directly under the chalkboard, which had the list of daily specials. So much for being discreet. I figured that I would be able to work around it, but it was going to be hard to dodge the roaming eyes of hungry customers trying to decide what to order - and looking right above our heads. An older waitress came over and handed Mom and I two plastic-covered menus and two lists of the specials that were listed on the chalkboard. There were two specials that had been crossed out, so we assumed that they were no longer available. The waitress also took our drink order - two Diet Cokes - which quickly arrived in tall, thin glasses.Marguerite's doesn't have a large menu because their focus is on the quality of each dish offered. Appetizers include stuffed quahogs with linguica stuffing ($4.59), steamed mussels ($6.49), fried calamari ($6.49), New England clam chowder ($2.59-3.59), lobster bisque ($3.29-4.29), French onion soup ($3.99), and something called Billi Bi, which are shucked mussels in an herb cream broth ($3.59). You can also order a Caesar salad ($4.59) with your choice of grilled shrimp ($12.99) or grilled chicken ($7.99). With none of the regular menu entrees reaching the $16 mark, options include the seafood Provencale ($15.59), broiled scallops ($15.99), chicken Marsala ($11.99), liver and onions ($8.49), fish and chips ($10.79), baked stuffed chicken breast ($10.99), fried scallops ($15.99), chicken Parmesan ($11.99), and the steak of the day ($13.99). All entrees are served with your choice of starch and fresh vegetable. If you're looking for something more on the sandwich side, check out the chicken Monterey ($7.99), tuna melt ($7.99), Reuben ($7.99), hot pastrami ($7.99), vegetarian garden burger ($6.99), grilled chicken ($7.99), traditional club ($7.99), and specialty burger ($7.99) with your choice of toppings. If you have children in your party, Marguerite's offers a hamburger ($3.59), cheeseburger ($3.79), hot dog ($2.29), and a grilled cheese sandwich ($2.29). Daily specials can be viewed on their Web site, and an extensive wine list is available for those looking for a more adult beverage. Also, we applaud the fact that Marguerite's uses fresh, local ingredients, and changes their specials seasonally.
Once we had finally narrowed down our choices, a young waitress appeared to take our order. Mom chose the all meat chicken pie ($7.99) off of the menu, but unfortunately it was not available. She settled on another choice - the broiled scrod ($11.99). I went with the baked stuffed sole with seafood stuffing ($12.99). For her starch and vegetable, Mom chose fries and cole slaw. Since I know that Mom doesn't eat cole slaw, I knew to choose something different so that I could get two veggies out of the deal. What a pig! I chose fries and marinated cucumbers, which I was really excited to try. Although we don't often get an appetizer, the Maryland crab cakes with remoulade sauce ($7.99) caught our eye and we both felt the overwhelming need to try them. Once the waitress had finished taking our order, she walked away from the table giving me plenty of room to take a picture of the interior ... or so I thought.
This is all I got:
Yep. It was just too damn crowded for me to get a clear shot, and I didn't want to be the pink elephant in the room standing there pointing a camera in people's direction while they were stuffing their faces. I tried my best to do the "I'm not taking a picture, I'm just holding my camera over my shoulder" routine, but each photo came out worse than the next. Plus, because we were seated under the chalkboard, we were the main attraction. Oh well, I'll try and describe it to the best of my abilities. As I mentioned before, there are only 12 tables available (no booths). There is also a counter area with about six stools. This makes for a very cozy environment, but it can get a little cramped, especially with the large amount of uniformed waitstaff wandering between tables. I will say this - the waitstaff was very attentive. I could barely get a shot of the food without one of them peering over to see if I needed anything. The decor is a nice mix of both country and modern design. The hanging silver lights over the counter area have spoons attached, making them almost look like a crazy art project. Very cute. I also liked the old fashioned fruit plaques and hanging foliage. What we did not notice about Marguerite's is that there is an outside eating area. Mom and I only spotted this little section on our way out. We were so mad! This would have been the perfect day to have a meal outdoors. With only about four or five tables, it was a beautifully decorated space. Oh well ... maybe next time. Although we did not use the ladies' room on this visit, Mom had in the past and said that it was very tiny, cute, and clean.
We hadn't been waiting long before our crab cakes arrived. Both Mom and I were pleased and surprised to see three cakes on our plate, as most restaurants only serve two. We each took a cake for ourselves and tasted it. It had a slighty crisp outside, and a softer texture inside. It also held its shape and was not mushy. Chock full of minced vegetables (we spotted some red pepper) and crab, the taste of the crab cakes was unbelievable. They were full of flavor and very hearty. The remoulade sauce (I tried it, Mom didn't) was tangy and complimented the crab meat well. I was a bit concerned when I first cut into the cake and noticed the veggies (Mom hates them), but I was very glad to see that she was enjoying the appetizer tremendously. She said they were the best crab cakes that she's ever had, and I have to agree with her. Hey, if this is the only way I can get Mom to eat her veggies, then bring on the crab cakes! We cut the third cake in half, just to be fair, but we really think that someone could make a meal out of this delicious appetizer.
After the young waitress had cleared away our appetizer plates, she brought out the entrees and warned us that both casserole dishes were extremely hot. She was right! Since Mom has a higher tolerance for hot dishes, she dug in first. The piece of scrod she had was a good size, and she said it was cooked perfectly. The fish was tender, flaky, and translucent white. It had a buttery crumb topping and came resting in a tasty lemon dill butter sauce. Mom thought it was absolutely delicious. She also enjoyed her fries, but - just like I predicted - she handed her cole slaw over to me.
My baked stuffed sole was fantastic. There were two filets in my casserole dish, each stuffed with a mixture of various seafood. The taste was so phenomenal that - according to Mom - I was enjoying it a little too much. All she could hear from her side of the table was me subconsciously saying, "Mmmmmmmmmm." I could not believe it! Apparently I "mmm-ed" through the whole meal! I really must have been enjoying myself. It really was one of the best stuffed soles I've ever had. I also found my fries to be very tasty and thoroughly enjoyed the taste of Mom's cole slaw and my marinated cucumbers. They were marinated in some sort of rosemary vinegar, and each piece really held the flavor. Everything was outstanding.
As if we weren't stuffed enough, I heard Mom mention (a few times) the words "grapenut custard." I told her that I was a little full, but she pulled the old "well I won't get one if you're not getting one" deal. Mothers! When the waitress returned to our table to take away our dishes, Mom asked her what desserts were being offered. I don't remember everything, but I do remember tapioca pudding and chocolate seduction cake. When she mentioned the grapenut custard, both Mom and I said that we would take a piece. I saw the waitress go over to the counter and pull out a refrigerated tray. Inside the tray was a giant square of custard. She cut two very large pieces, placed them on trendy plates, and covered them with whipped cream and cinnamon. When they arrived at our table, both Mom and I agreed that the next time we order this, we should just split one. It was huge ... and fantastic. Grapenut custard is a New England favorite, and it has quickly become a New England Bites favorite as well.
As we lay at the table in the midst of a food overdose, the waitress returned to take away our plates and bring the bill. The total came to:
1 crab cake - $7.99
2 IBC root beer - 3.58
1 broiled scrod - 11.99
1 baked stuffed sole - 12.99
2 grapenut custard - 9.18
Subtotal - $45.73
Food tax - 2.29
Beer and wine tax - 0
TOTAL = $48.02
We left $58 for the waitress, which included a 20% tip. This was quite an expensive meal for Mom and I! However, we never really do the whole appetizer-to-dessert kind of thing, so it was nice to get a taste of each of the courses that Marguerite's offers. As we left the restaurant, Mom and I remembered the last time that we had visited Marguerite's. The entrance/exit area is very narrow, and on our last visit, someone had parked an elderly woman in a wheelchair in the center of the entrance way to wait in line for a table. No one could get in or out! People had to smother this poor handicapped woman with their stomachs in order to get by. It was annoying, but hysterical.
Marguerite's isn't your typical restaurant. It tends to attract an older crowd, but that's just fine with us. We know that wherever you see a group of "Golden Girls" having a nosh, you're going to get good food (they're picky), big portions (they like leftovers), and low prices (they're frugal). The food is some of the best around, we love the fact that the chef seems to be putting a new spin on traditional favorites. Marguerite's Restaurant is definitely one of Southern New England's hidden treasures. Just don't sit under the chalkboard.
Marguerite's Restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Breakfast is served until 11 a.m.