In its first year in business, Le Marais Bakery has become a popular addition to the Marina dining scene, and it's about to gain an even bigger presence with the debut of Le Marais Bistro, opening tonight. Owner Patrick Ascaso took over the next-door space (formerly a lingerie shop) and knocked down the wall between it and the bakery, creating a larger, more open space for both daytime customers of the bakery and evening diners. He's also recruited a power trio of female chefs, Nicolette Manescalchi, Leslie Miller-Dancy, and Emily Riddell, to run the kitchen.
Manescalchi, an alum of A16, is offering a menu of Mediterranean fare, with influences from southern France, southern Italy, and north Africa. Options include socca, a cumin flatbread with herb jam; a fruits de mer platter of raw and cured seafood; and whipped burrata with cucumber, fried olives, and dill pollen. Entrees include three pastas (saffron scialatielli with shellfish, mafaldine with zucchini and pecorino, trenne with eggplant and lamb sausage), and three meat options cooked on a wood grill (za'atar-crusted tuna, spiced chicken, and lamb chops). Sous chef Miller-Dancy, who met Manescalchi at A16 is helping her make everything in-house, including ham, smoked salmon, jams, and farro porridge for the daytime menu. Here's the full dinner menu, which will change frequently for seasonality.
Of course, a French bakery turned bistro needs some awesome desserts, which come courtesy of Riddell, a alum of Philadelphia's acclaimed Le Bec-Fin. Expect options like rum cake and panna cotta, complete with housemade ice cream. Wines were chosen by a certified sommelier, with an emphasis on Mediterranean wines from the Rhone Valley, Greece and Corsica. Hours for the bistro are Sunday-Thursday, 5:30-10 pm, and Friday-Saturday, 5:30-11 pm.