At the top of the old-fashioned hors d’oeuvres menu at Marcel, Ford Fry’s throwback steakhouse in west Midtown, you’ll find lobster chowder with puff pastry. The understated menu description belies the impressive dish that will arrive if you order it — and the lobster chowder definitely is worth ordering.
Served in a chalice-like bowl under a tall, architecturally impressive dome of puff pastry, the chowder really is a straightforward seafood stew. But, it’s executed very well. Though it can be difficult to see in the dim, clubby lighting of the restaurant, the chowder appears to be colored with a dark roux. This isn’t the bland, bright white soup from a can.
The chowder also is flavored distinctly with fresh, green herbs that balance the richness of the dish. As you rightfully should expect from a near-$18 bowl of soup, there are large hunks of tender lobster meat generously distributed throughout.
Marcel certainly is a luxury experience — the definition of an occasion restaurant. But, dishes like the lobster chowder are a big reason to visit. Sure, the steaks are great, but it’s the treats found elsewhere on the menu that will make your meal memorable.
Marcel. 1170 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. 404-665-4555, marcelatl.com.