Becky and Rett gave Erin a gift certificate to Mairin's Table as a graduation present, so we headed over there on Friday night for dinner. The website says they have free parking available, which is true, but there was only one spot left when we got there so it's certainly possible that you would need to find alternative parking.
Mairin's Table is a little difficult to find, the address is on 4th St. but the restaurant faces 1st Ave. Half of the parking lot is reserved for Bulldog parking, I'm not sure how strictly that is enforced.
When we walked into the restaurant it was eerily silent. There weren't many people there yet and it seemed as if nobody was talking, it was strange. The people that were there were also spaced perfectly apart so that any table we chose was right next to someone else, so we went with the window seat by the front door. More customers kept trickling in as we were there so that by the time we left it was nearly full.
The menu online listed wine but did not mention any beer so I just assumed they didn't have any. I was glad to find that they have about ten different bottled beers to choose from (that's me inspecting the beer selection in the photo). They had Lake Superior Special Ale which I recalled from brew52 as being very good and it was indeed a tasty brew.
I had actually decided on what I was going to order before we got there in a moment of decisiveness, the chicken Marsala with mashed potatoes and asparagus. The entrees also come with a choice of soup or salad so I got a cup of the spinach and lentil soup. The soup had a great consistency to it - not too thin, I like a good, hearty soup - and it was hot, which is always nice.
Our entrees came out on plates that were loaded with food. I had a large chicken breast with mushrooms and Marsala sauce, a healthy mound of garlic mashed potatoes, two pieces of French bread, and asparagus on top. I haven't had asparagus in awhile, I forgotten how good it is. The potatoes were delicious, especially when they were slathered with Marsala sauce and mixed with a piece of chicken. After finishing all my food I was completely stuffed and ready for a nap.
I wasn't sure what to expect from Mairin's Table, but I left feeling very satisfied with the food and the experience overall.
- Service: Our server was nice and she took care of us well.
- Food: Excellent food and huge portions, Erin got a lunch out of her leftovers.
- Drinks: Beer and wine only, with about ten beer choices and a decent list of wines available.
- Ambiance: At first it was a little quiet and subdued, but by the time we left the crowd was picking up a bit.
- Price: The entrees are in the $15-$20 range, but you get plenty of good food for the price.
- Convenience: There is limited parking available and some meters on the street.
When Becky gave me a gift certificate for Mairin's Table, she mentioned that we should try to go there soon just in case they close - she said that it was empty when she went in there (not sure when that was though) and that the person she bought it from thanked her and let her know that it's been really hard for them with the economy. So if you have been wanting to try Mairin's Table (which you should - it was quite good!) definitely head out there soon, just in case. I really hate seeing some of the places on our list close before we even get a chance to try them out.
We got to Mairin's Table at 7pm last Friday and as Ben mentioned, it was very quiet and pretty empty. By the time we left at about 8:15 or so, it was full, so that's a good sign! We sat next to the window, and I will note that if you sit on the booth side, the seats are pretty high and can get uncomfortable. I am tall (5'9'') and my feet didn't touch completely touch the ground. Just something to think about :)
Luckily for Ben, I am a keen observer and noticed the bottles of beers available at the bar. He chose Lake Superior Special Ale, which was the first beer we were able to enjoy on the porch last spring. I hope those days return to us soon. I ordered the shiraz because it was the cheapest wine on the list :) It was fine, but certainly nothing outstanding.
The menu at Mairin's Table is pretty small, but they had a number of good specials that day - I got the pasta special which had shrimp, cilantro pesto, artichokes and chunky tomatoes (this last item ensured that Ben wouldn't try to eat any of my food). I also chose a cup of spinach and lentil soup to start, which was quite good but a little bland.
The portions were fairly large - I barely ate half of my pasta, which means I also got to enjoy it for lunch today - it held up well! I liked this pasta a lot, it reminded me of the pasta I had at Trotter's Cafe. I thought Ben's meal was the winner though - the sauce and potatoes were just delicious.
Probably the most entertaining part of the night for me was observing what looked like a blind date at the table right in front of us :) I hope it went well for them! They were still there when we left, so I'm guessing it was at least ok.
Mairin's Table is a very cute place - quite small, but it doesn't feel too crowded. The decor is warm and inviting. The music is at a reasonable level where you can hear it, but it doesn't interfere with conversation. I think when we walked in there was just a strange lull, because I didn't notice uncomfortable silences during the rest of the evening. It definitely is in an unfortunate location - right behind The Front and Bulldog, but very hidden in the parking lot. I'm sure more people would go there if they could just see it.
23 Northeast 4th St