Here’s a look inside Maré, the seafood-centric Melrose restaurant that Eric Greenspan quietly opened earlier this month. If you hadn’t heard already, the hidden-away space aims to take full advantage of Southern California’s drier than usual summers by foregoing a roof completely; this is casual patio dining on a whole other level.
Billing itself as European coastal, both in cuisine and decor, the pared-down space is a pleasant evening mix of potted plants, string lights, and flickering candles. The old olive tree still stands in one corner from the days of The Foundry, Greenspan’s previous project here, which was surreptitiously sliced into Melrose Umbrella Co. up front and, eventually, Maré in the back. Simple hanging lanterns and an eclectic mix of pottery finish the minimalist space, while subdued green walls are a refreshing antidote to all the blond wood and white subway tiles popular at most new restaurants around town.
The menu, as you might have already seen, is a sub-$20 mix of shellfish and broths, with a whole branzino, a touch of steak, and plenty of vegetables thrown in for good measure. Greenspan has been eager to get back to simple, refined cooking after spending years as a maximalist turning out grilled cheeses and burgers on Hawaiian sweet rolls. In partnering once again with Jim Hustead (Saint Martha, Roof on Wilshire) and Stone Oven’s James Moon, Greenspan has been able to spend his time back in the kitchen, working the simple menu and ginning up the occasional evening special.
And really, Maré is meant to be enjoyed in the evenings, once the sun has gone down and the heaters have hummed to life. Right now, there’s no wine list to speak of — just by-the-glass offerings of a house red and white every night — but once the curated bottle selection comes to life, the surprising Melrose restaurant with its hidden entrance through the back of Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese is likely to become a summer destination for lots and lots of easygoing diners.