No. 4: Spontané Menu at Marché Moderne

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South Coast Plaza typically isn't a haven for bargain hunters, but for several years the prix-fixe lunch at Florent and Amelia Marneau's Marche Moderne has had one of the best lunch specials in the county.

Dinner for two at Marche can easily top $100, but like Rachael Ray taught us on $40 a Day, expensive restaurants are always cheaper at lunch. Here, Florent sends out fresh bread, salad, choice of entree and desert for $20.


Past visits have included sweet seared skate and angular slivers of bloody hangar steak; a recent trip featured rustic braised pork cheeks and creamer potatoes with whole grain mustard, bacon and a syrupy red wine sauce. Each meal finished with one of Amelia's desserts, which are typically lighter affairs that include berries and cream, small pastries with fruit compotes or other baked goodies.

Dave ranked this same special at No. 7 in 2010, and I chose to kick it up a couple of spots because the pairings are consistently solid, always fresh and aren't just the same old French classics repeated over and over.

But Dave's one critique--that the desserts aren't a substantial enough offering--still stands. At only a few bites per serving, each meal always leaves you craving just a little bit more. But such a generous offering at such a paltry price should not be missed.

The list so far:

5. Banana Pudding At Merely Sweets
6. Anything by Taco Maria
7. Venison Filet Mignon at Mare Culinary Lounge
8. Pot Pie Purse at the Crosby
9. Farmers Market Feast at Anais+
10. Tortilla de Patatas at Ole Spain Delishop
11. Picadita At Alebrije's Grilla
12. Blowtorch-Seared Mackerel At Izakaya Ku
13. Any Octopus Dish At Broadway By Amar Santana
14. Tri-Tip Benedict at Rocq Cafe
15. Porkabello At Bacon-A-Fair
16. Soba and Curry Combo Special from Miyabi Tei
17. Sashimi sandwich at North Shore Poke Company
18. Kotlety i Zrazy at Moscow Deli
19. Meyer Lemon and Honey Duck Wings at St. Roy Chef's Pub at VINE
20. The Karma Burger at Mick's Karma Bar
21. Breakfast Hash and Eggs Waffle at Bruxie
22. Fried Bologna Slider at The Burnt Truck
23. Chowder Fries at Slapfish
24. Nemesis at The Viking Truck
25. Tuna Empanada at Puerto Madero
26. Suckling Pig Dinner at Haven Gastropub
27. Any Fried Spuds at Umami Burger
28. Lunch at Playground
29: Calamari at Three Seventy Common
30. Four-Course $7 Lunch Special at Olé Spain Delishop
31. Starving Artist Sandwich With the Fixins' at the Crosby
32: Mac 'n' Cheese at Chapter One: The Modern Local
33: Chocolate Dome Cake at AnQi
34. Neff Ranch Orange Juice from That Guy at the Saturday Irvine Farmer's Market
35. Carlsbad Aquafarm Oysters at Slapfish
36. Hu Tieu at Pho Crystal Noodle House
37. Chocolate Soufflé at Bistro Bleu 
38. "15-Minute Wings" at Simmzy's
39. Hot Pots at Boiling Point 
40. California Burrito at Taco Pronto 
41. Kohryu Ramen at Kohryu Ramen
42. Meyer Lemon Curd at Irvine's Lucca Cafe
43. Cola Braised Pork at Haven Gastropub
44. Shao Shan Tsai at 101 Noodle Express
45. Any Sandwich from Paninoteca Maggio
46. Any Vegetable Platter at Tana Ethiopian
47. Bun Cha Ca Thang Long at Vien Dong
48. Comida Corrida at Lindo Michoacán #2
49. Gordita de Tinga at El Rincón Chilango
50. Lobster Waffle at Bruxië
51. The Scone at Coffee, Tea and Tulips
52. Huarache de Carnitas at El Paraiso
53. Chivito at Puerto Madero
54. Brizio Combo at Brizio Chicago Style Pan Pizza
55. French Toast at Starling Diner
56. The $7 Three-Item Combo Plates at Yu's Garden
57. Gudeg at Indo Ranch
58. Salted Caramel Gelato at N'Ice Cream
59. Live Amaebi at Sushi Imari
60. Any Burrito from Dos Chinos
61. Olive Tree's Iftar
62. Sonoran Dog at Rubalcava's
63. Sizzling Hiramasa Sashimi at The Catch
64. Yakisoba Dog from Dogzilla
65. Crispy Pork Belly from Lucca Cafe
66. French Toast with Bacon at Flurries Shaved Snow Bar
67. The Venetian Roll at Sushi at The Venetian Gentleman's Club
68. Okaki Asparagus at Hamamori
69. The "Fried Egg" at Eat Chow
70. Nam Kao Tod at Vientiane Restaurant
71. Chicken Ramen at Jinya Ramen Bar
72. Pig Snout at Tacos & Carnitas Sahuayo
73. Kale and Mushroom Flatbread at 320 Main
74. Congee at King Lobster Palace
75. Fish and Chips at Slapfish
76. Fries at Playground

77. Carne en Su Jugo at La Cocina de Mi Abuelita
78. S'mores at Ti Amo Biscotti & More
79. Broken Rice at Dat Thanh
80. Bulgogi and Potato Pizza at Chicken & Pizza Love Letter
81. Braised Bacon at Break of Dawn
82. Cake Donut at Cream Pan
83. Bistec de Pollo at Mercado El Rey
84. The Rhino at Rancho a Go Go
85. Cabernet Brownies at Blackmarket Bakery
86. Cookie Monster at Lola Ice Cream and Deli
87. Polenta Board at CUCINA Enoteca
88. Falafel Taco at Taco Asylum
89. Wagon-Wheel Bread at THE RANCH Restaurant
90. Toothpick Tacos at Mexico Supermarket
91. Hoppin' John at Memphis at the Santora
92. Free Beans and Chips at Taqueria Zamora
93. Pig in a Blanket Waffle with Gringo Bandito at Cafe Calacas
94. "Pork Hash" at Huong Giang
95. Sweet Chili Chicken Quesadilla At Kogi
96. Licuados at Mil Jugos
97. Hawaiian Ahi Poke at California Fish Grill
98. Takoyaki at Takoyaki Tanota
99. Fiesta Noodles at Jollibee
100. Chilaquiles Verdes Con Huevos Estrellados at La Tablita California

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Location Info

Marche Moderne

3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, CA

Category: Restaurant

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