Review: Le Marais

Graphic+courtesy+of+Naomi+Lechner

By Sawyer Strain

The closure of the iconic Tony Tuttos pizza in 2017 left 250 East Blithedale vacant in the eyes of the Mill Valley diner. That all changed, however, when Le Marais opened its doors last June. 

Owner Patrick Ascaso, who grew up in Arpajon, France, conceived the idea for the bakery in an attempt to recreate the cafe experience of his French childhood. Acaso opened the original Le Marais in 2013 in San Francisco, followed by two more kitchens around San Francisco. The Mill Valley bakery is now his fourth venture. 

Upon entering the Mill Valley bakery, the emphasis on breezy casual outdoor dining makes itself clear. As you approach the counter to place an order, you are greeted by friendly and hospitable faces. I was given a delicious complimentary strawberry-rhubarb scone after chatting briefly with the cashier about the Chicken Au Jus sandwich. 

The family-owned establishment is undeniably steeped in all things French, as evidenced by the menu, decor, and the customers lounging outside, but upon closer inspection, the Asian Chicken Salad and Lobster Cobb Salad diversify the menu. 

The French Onion Burger with Wagyu beef, gruyere, onion jam, tomato, and arugula on a brioche bun ($17) was a flavorful and rich burger that struck a balance between the delicate Wagyu flavor and smokey bun. The wonderfully crispy Chicken Au Jus sandwich with strawberry rabe and French fries ($16) offered a hearty and balanced, although costly, meal. In addition to the food, their iced Latte ($4.25) offered refreshment and a much needed caffeine kick. 

While the price point of the restaurant may be enough to deter a casual stop-by for most of Mill Valley’s youth, part of the beauty of Le Marais is that it can be what you make of it. A quick stop for an iced coffee on a sweltering day? Absolutely. A sit-down meal of Wagyu burgers and French onion soup? Of course. The clean French atmosphere of Le Marais sets the scene for an enjoyable experience for anyone.