Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit this… I’ve never been to a Marlow’s Tavern. This successful metro Atlanta chain of upscale pubs got their start in Johns Creek on Old Alabama Road. From here they opened seven more locations. Somehow I’ve missed it all until about a week ago when the Avenue Forsyth location made its grand opening.
Marlow’s is in the old Little Azio’s space at the Avenue, directly across from the AMC movie theater. It is a prime spot, especially to host couples doing a dinner and movie date. More on this later.
Marlow’s has done an amazing job with the buildout. Even with a corner location and a fair amount of windows, the interior is dimly lit, creating a sophisticated atmosphere. Inside you’ll find a mix of high-top tables and booths yet few large tables. If you’ve got a big group, this might not be your place. The bar features a garage door that opens to the outside patio. It allows those in the sun the opportunity to belly up to the bar without going inside. It’s a neat set up.
If you’ve been to another Marlow’s location then you’re probably familiar with the menu. It features slightly higher-end pub food. The appetizers stood out the most to me in both taste and originality. My favorite by far was the shrimp and crab “nacho” plate. They take a single nacho chip and cover it with crab meat and a small shrimp. Next comes pepper jack cheese and a thinly sliced jalapeno. Under the broiler it goes until the cheese is golden brown. They are delectable yet pack a decent punch. I also liked the asparagus fries. The veggies are thin, lightly breaded and fried and come with an aioli dipping sauce.
The rest of the menu consists of burgers, sandwiches, salads and others. After setting the bar high with the appetizers, the rest of the menu was a big letdown. Their fish tacos, described as “infamous”, fell short. The tilapia was dry, begging for a sauce to rehydrate it. The menu promised a cream sauce but I didn’t taste much of it. By comparison, Cheeky’s around the corner has a much better fish taco.
The shrimp and grits earn high marks on presentation. Two grit cakes were set to balance at an angle to each other, then smothered with shrimp, tomato, greens and a sauce. Unfortunately the kitchen didn’t execute well on this dish as the greens were mushy and the sauce was under seasoned.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the kids menu. While I would not consider Marlow’s kid friendly for toddlers, your older children ought to be fine. The addition of surf and turf, on the kids menu, made me chuckle. Only in the affluent burbs can our kids dine on such an entree! Marlow’s kiddie surf and turf consists of a hamburger slider and a tempura fried shrimp.
Service was polite and hospitable but a little slow. If they wish to thrive next to a movie theater they’ll need to turn tables quicker so folks don’t miss their show. Keep that in mind if you’re considering Marlow’s before your movie.
Perhaps I’m being a little harsh on such a new restaurant yet these guys should have a lot of experience under their belt at this point. Nevertheless they probably need more time to work out all the kinks.
I was impressed with the crowd on a Monday night. It consisted of many good-looking young couples in the 20′s, something you don’t see a lot of in the burbs. Absent were the high school kids, who are normally thick as fleas at The Avenue Forsyth. It just goes to show that Marlow’s is likely to carve out a niche in this area. For a sophisticated and sexy date location before a movie, Marlow’s will become a great choice. Once they hit their stride, I think Marlow’s will be tremendously successful here.
Disclosure: I received free appetizers from this restaurant during a pre-opening promotion. Read my disclosure policy on my about page.