A secret entrance, plenty of shellfish and foosball at Eric Greenspan's Maré

The most romantic new restaurant in the city? Introducing Maré, Eric Greenspan's new outdoor-only spot

Name: Maré

Concept: Eric Greenspan's new seafood-focused restaurant is located behind the Melrose Umbrella Co., but you enter through Greenspan's Grilled Cheese. There is no roof, there are twinkling lights and a foosball table in the front, where you can sip a cocktail and school your friends. 

"People ask me what we do when it's raining," said Greenspan. "I say we close and go to the movies." 

It's a limited menu of moderately priced seafood and farmers market finds. When you sit down, table bread is served with olive oil, marinated kumquats, pistachios and olives, and pickled peppers. 

Dish that represents the restaurant and why: The shellfish in broth. You pick your shellfish, with black mussels, clams (little neck or Manila) or shrimp to choose from ($12). Then you select between a leek and white wine broth; tomato fennel;  pistou; spicy sausage romesco or vadouvan green apple. A bowl of pasta and a bowl of 135-degree eggs, in their shells, are served along with your shellfish. Once you finish the shellfish, you're meant to dump the pasta in the broth and crack in the egg for a second course.

Or, go for the $18 whole branzino with crispy skin and fig pomegranate sauce. 

What you're drinking: The drink menu, like the food menu, is limited. There is one each house red, white, rose, Lambrusco and bubbly. And the house wines will change every couple of months. For the beer drinkers: one craft and one imported beer. And as for cocktails, there are four spirits muddled with fresh fruit and herbs. The whiskey comes with fig and oregano and the vodka with greens and thyme. 

Who's at the table next to you: Six men with facial hair, wearing glasses with large frames, are look like body doubles from the new "Entourage." (They're also discussing which director they should get for their new project.)  A married couple behind them is Googling actors on IMBD mobile, presumably one of the six. In the back corner, another six friends celebrate a birthday, and a couple of women across the way are dressed in stilettos and large coats, semi-shivering under the heaters while they sip stemless glasses of white wine. It's just a typical dinner in L.A.

Service: Very attentive. Your server will let you know you didn't quite understand the two-part shellfish, egg and pasta, but in a nice, helpful way.

It will feel wrong, but it's right: We've already told you the entrance is through Greenspan's Grilled Cheese. You will still be confused. Just walk all the way to the back, make a quick right, then go up the stairs. You may or may not be passing employees washing dishes. Up the stairs you'll enter the restaurant's office. Again, you'll, think you're going the wrong way. Spot the door to your left, the one that looks like it will open into cold storage (it is marked with a red sailboat), and through it, you'll find the restaurant. The secret entrance is not intentional, it's literally the only way to accees the restaurant. 

Info: 7465 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, (323) 592-2336 

Eating whole fish always makes me want to drink ouzo and say opa! to strangers. Follow me on Twitter @Jenn_Harris_


Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World