The theme for this week is restaurants whose names begin with the letter “M.” With recent re-openings, there are some really good opportunities in that category. These are chef-owned, food-driven establishments. Seating is limited everywhere, so reservations are a really good idea.
Mark’s (616 Dolley Madison, 336-387-0410, marksgreensboro.com) has been a personal favorite for decades, as well as one of my highest rated establishments. The restaurant is now open for dinner at 5:30, Monday-Saturday, for dine in or take out.
This is one of the only places in Greensboro that regularly serves pate’. Mark’s version is a French country style, served with traditional accompaniments of whole grain mustard, onions, cornichons, and toast points. It’s a great way to start. I am also a fan of Tater Tots- mashed potato balls filled with smoked trout, fried crisp. And if you are an Escargot fan, this is a good destination.
For lighter appetites, or for another course, I especially like the salad of Hazelnut Crusted Fried Goat Cheese with fresh pears, dressed in Champagne vinaigrette.
Small plates lend versatility to the experience here. Consider Shiitake Sliders, Grilled Quail Breast with Fried Grits Cake, Grilled Ostrich, Seared Sea Scallops with red lentils, and especially Lemon Risotto with Tempura Fried Shrimp.
Among the large plates, I would suggest Wild Salmon with black truffle butter, Napa cabbage ragout, gigante beans, and summer vegetables; Duck Breast with duck confit and sweet potato hash; Veal Chop; and Grilled Kobe Chopped Steak with cremini mushroom demiglace, truffle fries, and greens flavored with duck fat.
MJ’s (620 Dolley Madison, 336-852-4889, mjs620.com) is open for takeout orders 5-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and for indoor and patio dining 5-9 p.m. I am particularly drawn to outdoor seating these days. Check their Facebook page for daily specials.
From the starters section of the regular menu, Poutine is a standout. This hearty dish combines onion gravy with Cheddar cheese curds. Fried Calamari is served with fried jalapeno peppers and remoulade sauce.
Two sandwiches are appealing- Chicken Salad on brioche roll with cranberry chutney and salad, and Wagyu Beef Burger with homemade pimiento cheese, apple cider bacon, and truffle fries.
Entrée choices include Pan Seared Salmon with Basmati rice, asparagus, and beurre blanc sauce. Shrimp and Grits are joined by sausage, mushrooms, onions, and tomato gravy. Sea Scallops are arrayed over mushroom risotto- an especially mellow combination- with spinach and beurre blanc sauce.
Since the late 1990s, Marisol (5834 West Gate City Blvd., 336-852-3303, themarisol.com) has earned top ratings from me (and others). Marisol is now open for indoor dining Tuesday-Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Takeout orders can be picked up 6-8 p.m.
This stellar reputation is a function of quiet, sophisticated ambience as well as food. Consider starting with Flash Fried Shrimp marinated in buttermilk, served with spicy sweet chili sauce. The kitchen cures Gravlax in house, then presents this salmon preparation with curry-cilantro lime aioli.
Roasted Fennel and Garlic Sausage is also made in house. Foie Gras is lush.
The Caesar Salad is unique. It’s topped with flash fried oysters and creamy horseradish Caesar dressing, joined by toasted pine nuts and shaved Parmesan cheese.
The Duck entrée is twice roasted, yielding a crisp skin, flavored with Texas Pete and honey. Scottish Salmon gets an apple basil vinaigrette enhancement. The Grilled Veal Chop is major league, the exceptional meat rendered more complex with country ham, shallots, sage, Dijon mustard, and white wine. Blackened North Carolina Drum was the current fresh fish. That may change based on whatever is freshest. The kitchen was adding shrimp, plus a caper-cornichon dill remoulade sauce.
See my other Greensboro recommendations at issuu.com/yesweekly.
If you are going to the beach this summer, see my recommendations for the North and South Carolina coast at the YES! Weekly website: yesweekly.com. Look under “Featured Stories.”