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Monsieur Marcel fondue
Photograph: Time Out/Patricia Kelly Yeo

Table at Third & Fairfax: A second visit to Monsieur Marcel Bistro

Kelly returns to the market’s French bistro on a chilly Monday evening for fondue and escargot.

Patricia Kelly Yeo
Written by
Patricia Kelly Yeo

Table at Third & Fairfax is a weekly dining column in 2023 where Food and Drink editor Patricia Kelly Yeo will eat her way through the Original Farmers Market. Each column will drop on Thursday for a week-by-week recap of her journey through the classic L.A. tourist attraction. Last week, Kelly tried Moishe’s and the Gumbo Pot (again).

Almost every stall is closed when my partner and I return to the Farmers Market on a chillier Monday evening. There are signs of life at Du-par’s, Trejo’s Tacos and the perpetually busy Pampas Grill, but most produce vendors and eateries have shuttered. Today, we’re here for the live music on Monday and Wednesday evenings at Monsieur Marcel, though we hear no sign of the accordionist we briefly witnessed two weeks ago when we head towards the bistro. Luckily, though, we stumble across a new nightly 25 percent discount at Magee’s House of Nuts (6–9pm), which takes the edge off another misguided attempt to take advantage of Monsieur Marcel’s evening specials. 

After each buying a pound of fancy mix, we settle into a covered table under the awning, which shields us from the light drizzle that’s begun to fall. Only a few of the other tables are occupied, and more than one group of diners is digging into the fondue savoyarde ($39), so we order that and the escargot ($17). A bubbling pot of cheese fondue seems like the ideal cold weather food, and our server assures us the spread is definitely made to share. After nightfall, the market’s fanciest restaurant takes on a slightly date night feel, though the only other couples who seem to share my sentiment appear to be over 65.

Monsieur Marcel bistro evening
Photograph: Time Out/Patricia Kelly Yeo

The escargot arrives first, a silver plate of six good-sized Burgundy snails coated in herby garlic butter. We gently pick them out of their shells with cocktail sticks, the green sauce full of shallots and garlic. After eating the first snail, I can’t resist dripping the rest of the drippings onto the slices of bread from the bread basket. Of the escargot dishes in L.A. I’ve tried—Petit Trois, Bicyclette and Saltie Girl—the escargot at Monsieur Marcel offers the least decadent version of the dish. Instead, the preparation shines in its simplicity.

Escargot at Monsieur Marcel
Photograph: Time Out/Patricia Kelly Yeo

Before long, our server places the fondue rest on our table, then brings out a shining copper pot of Emmental, Gruyere, Comte and Morrier. Lacking in bright colors, the generously portioned accoutrements come out second: cubes of bread, slices of bresaola, a mountain of red apples and boiled mini potatoes. The slight bitterness from the white wine mixed into the cheese isn’t my favorite, but that's more a matter of personal taste than the dish's actual quality. I mix and match my bites of meat, apple and carbs, the ingredients cutting through the richness of the cheese. You can’t find fondue anywhere else in the city proper, from what I’ve found—which makes the dish Monsieur Marcel feel all the more special.

Meals from Table at Third & Fairfax fall into three categories: Skip It, Worth Trying and Must Have. 

Vendor: Monsieur Marcel
Order: Escargot and fondue savoyarde
Verdict: Must Have. The casual French bistro offers delicious takes on hard-to-find cheese fondue and Burgundy’s iconic snails. 

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