First Look: Marcel, Westside Provisions District

Risen from the defunct Abattoir, chef/restaurateur Ford Fry’s eighth Atlanta concept, Marcel, is a sexy, pricey, beefy beast that seems destined to rouse devotees and detractors. With prices topping out at $142 for a porterhouse for two, dinner at the French-inspired, old-school American-influenced steakhouse is not for the weak of wallet. But lunch and late night menus do offer less expensive ways to enjoy its charms.

The look: Fry’s major conceit for the design is French boxing champion Marcel Cerdon, and his scandalous, ultimately tragic affair with cabaret singer Edith Piaf. The voice of Piaf and jazz from her times wafts from the sound system, and the dim lights and dark corners of the plushy dining room seem set up for sin. Vintage Cerdon photos arranged in a soffit above the bar celebrate the boxers’ matches and matinee idol looks.

The scene: One afternoon, the crowd stopping in for a look-see seemed to be office escapees accustomed to martini lunches, with a large, lively party in the bar area, and couples scattered through the dining room. Crisp server teams and a pair of jovial bartenders kept busy handling the rush.

The food: Executive chef Brian Horn’s menu leans heavily on classic indulgences. Starters include mixed-to-order Caesar salad ($9.95), Shrimp Louie with heirloom tomatoes ($19.95) and Oysters Bienville ($19.95). Wood-grilled and butter-basted steaks star in a range of cuts and prices, from a L’Entrecôte steak-frites with sauce verte ($29.95) to a 24-ounce dry-aged Côte de Boeuf ($75.95). Pastry chef Chrysta Poulos crowns the dessert menu with S’more Baked Alaska ($15.95).

The drinks: At the bar, look for throwback cocktails, such a Harvey Wallbanger ($9) and a Stinger ($10), and house creations, such as the tall Le Bombardier ($9) with Boodle’s gin, house orangecello and Fever Tree soda. The wine list includes some 100 bottles focused on old world selections and California cabernets. But the back of the menu offers at least two dozen wines by the glass ($9-$25).

The extras: The lunch menu has a number of hearty sandwiches ($13.95-$15.95) to choose from, such as the shaved beef and gruyere with horseradish and French onion jus. The late night menu, served 11 p.m.-2 a.m., features $3 oysters and the Marcel’s Stack sandwich ($10) with fried bologna and American cheese.

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