In a phone call this afternoon, Atlanta chef/restaurateur Ford Fry (JCT. Kitchen, No. 246 ,The Optimist, King + Duke, St. Cecilia, The El Felix, Superica) confirmed that if all goes well, his newest restaurant, Marcel , will open on Monday in the former Abattoir space in the Westside Provisions District.
“We should get our liquor license in the next couple of days, and we’re doing some friends and family events this week, so I see no reason why reason why we shouldn’t be ready to open the doors on Monday,” Fry said.
The upscale old school French-style steakhouse will serve lunch and dinner, with late night menus on Fridays and Saturdays, according to Fry.
The name was inspired by a French boxer, Marcellin "Marcel" Cerdan. The concept is that there is not too much concept.
“This is a restaurant where our goal is no innovation whatsoever,” Fry said.“Everyone is looking for innovation. Everyone is looking for what’s the new crazy technique. We’re just trying to buck that and go back in time towards early 1900s beefsteak dinners, when everything was about gluttony and really good flavors and a lot of classic stuff.”
As far as the atmosphere, the word is “plushy,” with classic cocktails at a new bar with a clubby feel.
“There’s some tableside service. There’s a maitre d’ in a tuxedo type of thing. But there’s also some humor to it,” Fry said. “It’s going to be expensive because we’re buying high end prime meat. But we’re not trying to take ourselves too seriously.”
As to the method of cooking the steaks, Fry said there was a lot of research and a lot of different opinions, including discussions with late Esquire food writer, Joshua Ozersky, who recommended wood grilling.
“I love the wood flavor but I love the crust a high heat broiler does,” Fry said. “So what we’re going to do is start the steaks on a wood-burning grill and then move them to cast iron pans and finish by basting with butter and fresh thyme.”
Summing up, Fry said, “I didn’t want to do another classic American steakhouse. There are plenty of those in Atlanta. I wanted to spin it in a French kind of way. So I looked up the most famous French boxer and there he was.”
And on a side note, Fry said that attendees of JCT. Kitchen’s Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival on July 19 can catch glimpse of Marcel, where cocktail and a food stations will be set up for the festivities.
Here are more details from a press release this afternoon:
Marcel Executive Chef Brian Horn created a menu of straightforward indulgences, including tableside Caesar Salad service. “I want our guests to feel well taken care of and happy,” Horn said. “I want to keep the food simple and super tasty. With the right technique and service, we can make that happen: we will have full-service teams handling every table, about a dozen captains, a maître d’, and a sommelier. Overall, I am hoping it will be a grand experience for our guests from start to finish.”
Beautiful starters include Plateau de Fruits de Mer – a seafood platter – in sizes petit and grand, as well as hors d’oeuvres such as Lobster Chowder in Puff Pastry, Oysters Bienville, and Garlicky Escargot with parsley butter and brioche. A section of “Classique” entrees includes Veal Parmesan with fior de latte mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes; Côte Du Porc with hen of the woods mushrooms and brandy jus; and Sole Meunière. The “Le Boeuf Premier” menu section features a range of cuts, such as L’Entrecôte with frites and sauce vert; 14 oz. Bone-in Filet; 16 oz. New York Strip; and 24 oz. Dry-Aged Côte de Boeuf. Lobster by the half or whole, Alabama Jumbo Lump Crab Oscar, and Alaskan King Crab are available from the “Royale” section, with sauces ranging from Roasted Mushrooms in Wine to Sauce Diane. Salads include Shrimp and Crab Louie and Salad Marcel – topped in creamy maple walnut dressing. Sides, or “Garnitures,” for the table round out the menu, with options like Spinach Gnudi, Cacio e Pepe, Cream Corn Gratin, and Pomme Dauphinoise.
Pastry Chef Chrysta Poulos crafts a menu of nostalgic desserts such as S’more Baked Alaska with graham cracker ice cream, marshmallow meringue, and hot fudge; Blueberry and Mascarpone Mille Crêpe Cake with lemon-sugared blueberries and brown-butter blueberry sauce; “Fruit on the Bottom” Crème Brulée with house-made jam; and Lemon Tart with crème Chantilly and edible organic flowers.
The beverage program, created by Lara Creasy, features cocktails inspired by the gentlemen’s club era spanning from the 1940s through the 1960s, with a heavy focus on classic spirits such as Smirnoff, Stoli, Beefeater, and Gordon’s, complemented with some high-quality ingredients. The menu highlights straight forward, lesser-known classics like the Harvey Wallbanger, Stinger, and Americano. Twists on the menu include the Vesper, featuring gin, vodka, Cocchi Americano, and caperberries, and a Daiquiri, made with rum, lime juice, Galliano, and coconut bitters. A selection of Cognac, Brandy, Scotch, and Whiskey are available. A robust wine list of more than 100 bottles focuses primarily on classic, old world wines and bold, California cabernets, and is curated to accommodate all price points. In keeping with Marcel’s boxing namesake, the extensive by-the-glass list features a “Heavy Weight” section, which offers high-end and unusual pours of wines like Barolo, Barbaresco, and Napa Chardonnay.
Designer Elizabeth Ingram conceptualized Marcel’s 134-seat interior to bring a dark, moody atmosphere evocative of 1920s France. Ingram designed the plush living room-like restaurant entry, setting an eye-catching, 10-foot settee against heavily, patterned playful wallpaper that juxtaposes glamour with cityscape icons like pigeons and hydrants. Antique rugs with avian and floral detailing deck the restaurant’s floors. Worn-in, dark red leather serves as the cover for tufted banquettes and chairs, a nod to boxing gloves of yesteryear. Numerous antique mirrors trimmed in gold leaf (hand-applied by Ingram’s design team) further accentuate the time period. Brass top tables elegantly set with aged flatware and silver coffee service sets are purposeful details alluding to a bygone era. Ingram created a wall installation of backlit antique fencing masks that will welcome guests into the bar area, dramatically separated from the dining room with a heavy, deep burgundy mohair curtain. The rustic, zinc bar top holds intimately-situated small lamps — glimpse up to see old photos of Cerdon himself embedded in the glass panes above the bar. Black and white photo collages of Cerdon, his dame Edith, and their entourage cleverly deck old stadium-style chairs. Magnifying glasses hang from the chair backs, lending guests a closer peek at the handsome boxer.
For those who wish to dine al fresco, a 34-seat patio is situated outside the dining room, including banquette seating that curls around the outdoor fireplace.
Marcel is open for lunch from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and dinner from 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and until 11 p.m. on Friday-Saturday. A late night menu will be offered from 11 p.m.-2 a.m. on Friday-Saturday. For more information or reservations, call 404-665-4555.
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