Would we go back:
241 S Main Street
• Walleye dumplings (red pepper sauce) - like croquettes $6.50 (shared)
• Caesar salad $4.50 (shared)
• Sea bass w/ asparagus, mashed potatoes, sweet corn relish and sweet potato puree $23.99
• Chocolate cake w/ ganache $5.99 (shared)
Marx Wine Bar was nice spot, it had a nice decor, was small and cozy, good food, nice pours of wine and a great wait staff.
The only thing I was not impressed with was the caesar salad, I feel like someone was a bit heavy handed with the dressing in the kitchen. But beyond that the dumplings which were really more like fritters, were good, my sea bass was very nice and the dessert was good as well.
I don't think I would drive to Stillwater just for the restaurant, but if I were in the area I would go back if the wait was not too tremendous.
• Filet mignon w/ asparagus, mashed potatoes, (cold) caramelized onions and sweet potato puree $23.99
I was thumbing through electronics ads lately and realized how complicated things had become. The good old days of simple AM/FM stereo with cassette player are long gone. VHS VCRs are not extinct, but heading there. People are losing their affinity for CDs in favor of other digital storage like iPods. There are also so many toys that I could use, but selecting the right ones, learning how to use them, and retiring old toys is a chore. What does that have to do with Marx Wine Bar? Nothing really, but there are two common elements: value and divergence.
First, on value. We care about value. When you spend over $100 for a meal, it should be pretty darn amazing. Keep in mind that we ordered two glasses of wine each at Marx, which we normally don’t do at other restaurants. So, when the salads, appetizers, and desserts are reasonably priced, the glasses of wine are reasonably priced, and the entrees are a few dollars less than normal, I’m ready to shout out “Amen!” Don’t worry; those few dollars saved will be spent on gas driving to Stillwater and in a nearby shop while you wait for a table, so you aren’t really saving much. But you are saving yourself from a trip to one of the surprisingly many mediocre restaurants in Stillwater.
Which brings me to divergence. The American society is finally maturing when it comes to food consumption, yet there is a growing divergence. The divergence comes from many sources, but it may be rooted in the spread of the Internet and cable television where there are a gazillion choices to distract us and give us choices. Choice is good. But it still amazes me how many people choose to eat fast food. It’s depressing. It’s about as depressing as moderately expensive mediocre food.
Luckily, Marx Wine Bar is not mediocre, except for the overdressed and dull Caesar salad. The walleye dumplings, much like croquettes, were surprisingly light and refreshing. Though deep fried, they were coated in a light batter and turned out interesting and tasty. I was also very happy with the filet mignon. It was perfectly done and a great piece of meat. The accompanying asparagus and mashed potatoes were delightful. I was only disappointed that the caramelized onions on top of the steak were cold. All in all, the entrée was very pleasing. The chocolate cake with ganache was a little dry for my taste, though it was safe and a good finish to the meal.
Some other comments:
The place is small. They only take reservations for parties of six or more, so expect to wait on weekends. The staff was great, though, because they gave you an approximate wait time, took down your cell phone number, and gave you a call if a table was ready sooner. That gives you time to look at a nearby shop or two. At first, the hostess told us a thirty minute wait (for a table of two), though they called us in fifteen minutes with a table ready. Waits for parties of four looked much longer.
The place is loud. There was a constant hustle and bustle. Loud floors, walls, and ceiling didn’t help. This is not a place for a laid back, slow, relaxing meal. The décor is also loud – bright primary colors decorate the entire space. Renee and I especially liked the picture frames that were affixed to the wall that were askew with paintings inside the frames that were level. We had a table next to the kitchen, and it is always fun to watch chefs work. While it wasn’t an open kitchen, I could tell they were working very hard to keep a regular pace.
Parking is always a challenge in Stillwater. We don’t need to tell you that, but it bears repeating. The Stillwater bridge may be closed and long lines of cars do not dominate Main Street for a while, but parking is not any easier because Stillwater is still a destination. Expect a hike from your parking spot to Marx, because it does have a good location on Main Street.
August 20, 2005