407 Columbia Street SW, Olympia
Longfellow once wrote, “In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” A fitting example of this philosophy is Olympia’s The Mark restaurant, where the fare is sophisticated in its simplicity, and refreshingly pure in the absence of extraneous distractions.
We began our dining experience with cocktails. I enjoyed a “Clean Cosmo” while my husband sipped a “Forbidden,” an original creation developed by chef/owner Lisa Owen. No triple sec, sweet and sour mix, or sugary simple syrup is used in the bar, and the difference was immediately apparent. The flavors were crisp and the drinks were light and refreshing.
Next was an appetizer of zesty Manchego cheese, accompanied by thick slices of rustic bread and olive oil. We then feasted on tiny, slightly bitter Arbequina olives. Like all of the dishes we sampled at The Mark, the first course was unadorned by garnishes; The Mark’s emphasis is on the food.
Our salads were unassuming yet satisfying – earthy mixed greens lightly dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette and coarsely shredded Reggiano cheese.
We shared two entrees. Tender tagliatelli was tossed with olive oil, diced roasted red bell peppers, and buttery pine nuts. All of the pasta served at The Mark is fresh and made with organic ingredients. Wild Alaskan sockeye salmon was simply seasoned and grilled. The absence of distracting sauces and seasonings allowed the rich taste of the salmon to shine. The accompanying sliced zucchini squash was sautéed and its flavor accentuated by aromatic, slightly pungent fennel seed. The humble vegetable had been organically grown; The Mark uses organic meats and produce whenever available.
Dessert was a flourless chocolate cake, served with a side of sweet Bing cherries. The Mark’s version of this classic is unique in that it is made with sweet milk chocolate rather than the conventional dark chocolate. No crème anglaise, raspberry puree or whipped cream diverted our senses from the decadent treat. With dessert we savored coffee along with glasses of smooth Amaretto liqueur.
A minimalist approach makes The Mark stand out from other eateries. Simple preparation and presentation make for culinary excellence, allowing the senses to fully experience fresh, high quality food.