Le Marais

Mark Hen­nessey and Jose Meirelles
  • Review
By – March 16, 2017

In the fore­word to this cook­book writ­ten by Hadas­sah and Joe Lieber­man (for­mer Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor from Con­necti­cut), Sen­a­tor Lieber­man extols the restaurant’s virtues: Le Marais was prob­a­bly the first kosher steak­house to offer dry-aged eats…Le Marais is a unique restau­rant. It has remained pop­u­lar for so long because the food, wine and ser­vice are so good. It just also hap­pens to be kosher.”

This cook­book is an unusu­al­ly fun read, filled with great com­ments , fine writ­ing, and humor. Recount­ing the Le Marais sto­ry, Exec­u­tive Chef Mark Hen­nessey ends his tale by jib­ing, “…but I need to save some­thing for the next book. Ten­ta­tive­ly titled Shab­bos Goy, pos­si­bly Tues­day with Moishe, we’ll see.”

Know­ing the impor­tant role that sauces play in French cui­sine, it is the first chap­ter of the book, fea­tur­ing Dominique, the revered butch­er. There is an array of Moth­er Sauces, the base sauces adapt­ed in numer­ous ways; vinai­grettes get their own due; Fresh May­on­naise is indeed much bet­ter than pre­pared mayos and it is worth the extra effort.”

If I have to eat a sal­ad — and my wife insists that I do on occa­sion — then it bet­ter damn well have bacon. You need a thick slab of bacon to pull this off, thin slices of the facon’ that is sold at kosher butch­er coun­ters just ain’t gonna cut the mus­tard. It’s a good thing that I make just such a prod­uct at Le Marais.” Hence he presents us with a Frisée aux Lardons.

In his intro­duc­tion to the Kale, Ital­ian Sausage, and But­ter Bean Soup, Hen­nessey insists that, For the record, Ital­ian food isn’t what you get at most Amer­i­can restau­rants. I call that pizze­ria cuisine.”

Beau­ti­ful­ly exe­cut­ed appe­tiz­ers such as the Assi­ette de Cru­dités make their proud appearance,as do the restuarant’s laud­ed Veal Sweet­breads with For­est Mush­rooms. No, it’s not brains!” the chef assures. I’ll nev­er for­get a guest demand­ing my pres­ence table­side and then arro­gant­ly ask­ing me to tell them what sweet­breads were. When I said veal thy­mus glands, he defi­ant­ly insist­ed upon just how wrong I was and then pro­ceed­ed to tell his din­ner guests just how lit­tle this chef” actu­al­ly knows. Not that it both­ered me or anything.”

The Crazy Good Bis­cuits found in the Breads and Pas­ta sec­tion, are Just flat out sick. Nuff said. This recipe is worth the cost of the book on its own. Assum­ing that you paid for it.”

We learn that the per­fect pota­to fry needs a dou­ble fry­ing method, as many French cook­books will tell you. The Beef sec­tion has an intro­duc­tion of sev­er­al pages — Le Marais is, after all, a steak­house — that includes a detailed expla­na­tion of the dif­fer­ent types of meat and the tem­per­a­ture of the meat you select when it is grilled. Ask­ing for your por­tion to be cooked well done” is the chef’s oy gevalt” .

Oth­er scrump­tious offer­ings are the Duck à L’Orange that is mag­nif­i­cent­ly described; the 3 days process to make Cas­soulet is a riot to read:

Mod­ern chefs who feel the need to improve upon what doesn’t need to be improved, have tried many haute cui­sine ver­sions of the cas­soulet. I sup­pose the goal was to make it with less fat and all of the fla­vor. All these attempts have, in my opin­ion (and who else’s opin­ion real­ly mat­ters?!), fall­en short in their mis­guid­ed attempts. Let’s face it, this is a dish that will be eat­en at most a few times a year. It is per­fect as it is. Rich, creamy, and a lit­tle bit salty. Indulge… For what it’s worth, this is the per­fect Shab­bos dish, it destroys any cholent ever made.

Lamb and veal are well rep­re­sent­ed. An appe­tiz­ing Osso Buc­co is fea­tured. Chick­en recipes are exe­cut­ed care­ful­ly so as to make it a delec­table cen­ter­piece. Excel­lent and imag­i­na­tive fish recipes are includ­ed, as well as some mar­velous sides.

Lest we for­get desserts: the cook­book offers the recipe for Le Marais’s famous Baba au Rhum — Cake and booze and fire, Need I say more!” — as well as the Alsa­t­ian cake known as Kugel­hopf: this ver­sion uses bak­ing pow­der rather than yeast.

The col­or pho­tographs are right on tar­get as is the excel­lent index.

Relat­ed Content:

Danièle Gor­lin Lass­ner (wife, moth­er, grand­moth­er) retired after 35 years at Ramaz where she served as Dean of Admis­sions, For­eign Lan­guage Depart­ment chair and teacher of French and Span­ish. She owns hun­dreds of cook­books. She has trans­lat­ed sev­er­al chil­dren’s books from French into Eng­lish. She has recent­ly trans­lat­ed “ A Mem­oir of Sanc­ti­ty “ by May­er Moskowitz (Mazo Pub­lish­ers, Jerusalem, Israel) from Hebrew into Eng­lish. No mat­ter the lan­guage, food is a con­stant.”

Discussion Questions