Opened less than four months ago by husband and wife duo Tony Marzo and Sachi Iwamoto, Kessel&March is a charming new eatery and food shop tucked away on an unassuming corner in East Van, at the foot of Commercial and Powell. The unique two-level space is located in the live/work ARC Gallery building, which sat vacant after Perch relocated several months ago.
After completing his apprenticeship at Cafe Brio in Victoria, Chef Marzo went on to work for some of the top restaurants in London, including a stint at Wild Honey (an experience he describes as nothing short of unforgettable), as well as the Michelin-starred Rhodes Twenty Four run by top chef Gary Rhodes — which sadly closed its doors just last week.
Now heading his own kitchen, Marzo’s style of food definitely reflects the diverse body of work experience behind him. With a nod to some of his favourite dishes in Europe, Chef Marzo’s menu could likely be defined as more relaxed and slightly less conformed than some of his previous employers. His food looks pretty, but it isn’t fussy — and after eating his food you can genuinely get the sense that this is indeed someone who truly loves what he does.
Kessel&March have a select beer list, with a focus on local and German labels. We chose the 311 Helles Lager from Coal Harbour Brewing, as well as the Gypsy Tears from Parallel 49 to accompany our meal.
Our first course was a sample of both the Parsnip Puree Soup and Arugula Puree Soup ($5). The parsnip soup was Adrian’s favourite, with a nice subtlety of flavour from the earthy parsnip. Jeremy enjoyed the spicy bite from the arugula puree, and was his favourite of the two.
Next course was the Smoked Salmon Terrine ($9), with lemon, anchovy and dill butter. Smoky, salty and beautifully tender, we had no problem polishing off the plate. This is a great dish to share.
Next was the Tuna Tartare ($8.50), with orange, capers and pine nuts. This was extraordinarily light and full of flavour, and the tuna tasted incredibly fresh. The brightness from the orange really complimented this dish, and with the capers and pine nuts it all worked together somehow.
Next was the Ricotta Gnocchi ($13), with herb cream sauce. The gnocchi is made in-house, and tasted fantastic. Creamy, cheesy and delicious, we’d say this dish is the epitome of amped-up comfort food. Chef Marzo told us he “loves making gnocchi,” and we could definitely taste it.
On to the next course, this is the Pork Belly ($13), served with beans and a mustard vinaigrette, Chef Marzo’s own playful version of the classic “pork and beans”. We’ll take this over the canned stuff any day. Cured for twelve hours, then sous-vide for thirty-six hours — this is one you must try when you come here for dinner. Food Gays orders!
To wrap up our amazing tasting, we indulged on a steaming hot Chocolate Lava Cake ($7) with fresh whipped cream. Made in-house, Kessel&March have their own full-time pastry chef on board, so all the baked goodies are definitely worth checking out while you’re there.
With food this delicious, Kessel&March likely won’t stay under the radar for very much longer. Open Monday to Friday for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with brunch on Saturdays — be sure to add it to your list of must visits in the East Village.
They also do family-style Suppers (with three coming up for the month of October), where for just $30 you can enjoy an incredible six-course family feast. Check out http://www.kesselandmarch.com/supper/ for more details.
XX – The Food Gays
Disclaimer: Our meal was courtesy of Kessel&March, however all opinions expressed are always our own.