If new restaurant openings indicate an upswing in the economy of New York, then you would think New York is booming.
Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelson must have faith as he just opened another restaurant, Hav & Mar, 245 11th Avenue at west 26th street in Chelsea.
This large, sophisticated, attractive 5,000 square foot, chic industrial dining room, complete with wood paneling, high ceilings, and colorful patchwork mermaids on the walls seats around 125 patrons. The circular bar and overhead lights are the focal point of the restaurant and are reminiscent of his other restaurant, Red Rooster. The open kitchen is in the back of the restaurant, where you see the head chefs are all women of colour. Chef de cuisine is Fariyal Abdullahi and sous chef is Maux Morgan. The pastry chef is Farheen Jafarey. The entire staff is diverse, from places like Ethiopia, Haiti, and Pakistan.
The food is a nod to the chef’s Swedish and Ethiopian heritage.
Hav means ocean in Sweden and Mar means honey in Amharic. The menu is seafood focused, with chicken being the only other protein, unless you order the $99 family plate, where there is a portion of beef short rib.
A must-try is the Hav bread basket. At a hefty $19. you won’t regret money well spent on Mar biscuits with honey butter, and Marcus’s famous blue corn bread with injera crisp, eggplant dip, and tomato chutney, all housemade.
There are several options for the small plates. Their signature dish was a seaside waffle with shrimp, mussels, and octopus in a maple chimichurri. The scallop and shiitake dish was a little salty for me. They have a nice Black Mermaid tower with lobster, blue shrimp, marinated mussels, clams, charred octopus salad, and oysters. For entrée, we had the corn-wrapped snapper with crispy coconut rice, topped with a vibrant salsa verde, which was delicious. The standout for me was the havatelli, a cavatelli with crab, shrimp, and uni butter which was rich and decadent. Each dish had a great interplay of flavours and beautifully presented. We also noted that every dish we tried was a little spicy but not overpowering.
Even the drink menu emphasizes women and producers of colour who embrace progressive, sustainable practices.
Superstar chef and James Beard award winner Marcus Samuelson’s latest endeavor got a 3-star review in the New York Times, his first new restaurant in New York in almost a decade. It appears he has another success to add to his roster!