With its opening less than three weeks away, details on chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Montreal restaurant, Marcus, are finally trickling in — including the first look inside, and more details on the menu.
Marcus will focus substantially on seafood and vegetables. And it looks like the restaurant isn’t afraid to offer some items that could prove relatively unique in Montreal’s dining scene, from dried tuna bresaola (a seafood charcuterie) to salmon belly cooked on a robata (Japanese grill) with maple and nori adding a sucré-salé touch.
The full menu isn’t yet available, but some dishes have been announced, with quite a mix of earthy touches, but also no shortage of brighter, sharper flavours. Also done on the robata are clams with carrot, long beans, and coconut. Then the restaurant’s raw bar is a key offering, with items like cobia with beef chicharron and citrus mojo (a tangy, herby sauce), and flaked char and char roe with hoecakes (cornbread) and avocado.
While Marcus won’t be as formal as Aquavit, the Michelin-starred Scandinavian restaurant in New York where Samuelsson made his name, the chef says he thinks the menu echoes what he did there.
“In terms of cooking style it reminds me more of Aquavit — the climate [in Montreal] is somewhat similar to Sweden, so we’re thinking about pickling local ingredients. But what is different to Aquavit is having a big raw bar and a big open kitchen — so the customers and the kitchen are one; it’s a very theatrical kitchen.”
Samuelsson also notes that with over 300 seats across the restaurant, terrasse, and adjoining bar-lounge area, Marcus will be a rather flexible restaurant, suitable for a fine seafood meal but also cocktails and a light bite. Fittingly, there will be a snack component to the menu — one item on it will be the “baller donut” with whipped cheese and caviar.
While in a culinary sense, Marcus obviously differs substantially from Samuelsson’s Harlem restaurant Red Rooster (which has a soul food focus) — yet he says that the convivial, not-too-finicky style at Marcus echoes Red Rooster, particularly on the bar side.
“In the lounge we have music, a festive environment, so that is really leaning towards the Red Rooster [atmosphere].”
Also freshly unveiled is the first glimpse at the space — while images of the lounge and terrasse are still under wraps, Eater was granted a sneak peek at the 100-seat restaurant. Designed by Zebulon Perron (Un Po’ di Piú, Montréal Plaza) There’s more than a hint of classically brassy and geometric, line-driven art déco design, but with some softer pink textures and colours in the mix, a touch of greenery, and carefully-designed lighting, it feels timeless yet contemporary.
You’ll be able to see it yourself very soon — the Four Seasons Hotel, and Marcus (located within it) both open May 8 on de la Montagne Street.