Marin brings the West Coast to the Midwest

The new Chambers Hotel restaurant champions healthy Bay Area-inspired cuisine

By now you've gathered that Marin is, largely, a starch and butter-free zone, so it's ironic that it's also home to one of the most decadent desserts I've had in recent memory. The Tanariva chocolate square boggles the mind in construction and richness: Caramelized milk chocolate is tucked inside mousse-like layers of chocolate cream, topped with hazelnut brittle, creme fraiche, and edible gold leaf. I can hardly imagine ordering anything else, but if you do, the warm brown butter and rhubarb tart is a good bet.

Ever wished that bars would return to making cocktails with fewer than six components? Then you'll appreciate that one of the cornerstones of the bar program here is the periodic table of gin and tonic, a novel idea and a hard-to-pass-up option on a sweltering day. Pick your top-shelf gin, whether it be Death's Door, Voyager, or Edinburgh, and your aromatic — lavender, lemon verbena, rosemary, and several others — many of which come right from those same patio garden boxes, to blend with house-made tonic. The results were strong and splendid, but a definite special order at $14 a pop. Inside, the cocktail menu focuses on fruitier champagne cocktails and the most killer truffled peach (a unique item from Southern Italy that's kind of like an olive but crisper and pit-free) martini, created by head mixologist Mike Rasmussen.

Overall Marin seems to have the same fingerprint as some of the other pre-theater fine dining options on this stretch of Hennepin, but its lines are a little smoother and its delivery a bit more direct. Customers, I think, will appreciate Marin's transparency when it comes to the fat, fiber, and calories listed right on the main menu (notably absent on the dessert menu), but because of that may expect it to be all healthy and earthy and organic-feeling, which it's not. In the end, it may prove to be an insignificant conflict of ideals, and anyway it's much harder to argue these things when your mouth is full of chocolate and gold leaf.

The Tanariva Chocolate Square
Alma Guzman
The Tanariva Chocolate Square

Don't forget to peek at all the amazing photos from Marin at the Chambers Hotel...

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