When Chef Marcus Samuelsson decided to open his first standalone restaurant in the Washington, D.C. area, he pulled in New York City-based Parts and Labor Design to deliver a space that celebrates Americana style through the cultural lens of Baltimore and the nation’s capital. Situated within a new luxury resort, the restaurant’s aesthetic pays homage to the chef’s multicultural background and personal style, celebrating a rediscovery of American craft rooted in African American influences, local music and urban lifestyle.
Guests first enter the 5,700-square-foot restaurant through an outdoor patio that features geometric floor tiles and furniture that takes cues from modern and colonial styles, backed by a custom glass facade. Inside, a charming entry hall features an intricate compass rose inlay on the floor that serves as a nod to American craft. Guests are drawn into the energy of a bistro-inspired 21-seat bar area framed by eye-catching wooden spindles that run along the ceiling perimeter. Custom brasserie-style light fixtures hang above the wood and stone chevron patterned bar.
The 84-seat main dining room showcases custom-made tribal wall tapestries and African-influenced artwork and photography. A central open kitchen and raw bar features wooden coffered ceilings, colonial millwork, and a deep amber and cream colour palette. Behind the expo-style kitchen old craftsman tools, such as antique saws and drills, hang on custom-made brass hooks. Throughout the dining room, multi-directional wood flooring and sculptural tiles frame various high and low top table settings.
Tucked in the back of the restaurant, a French-colonial-inspired sliding door opens into a prohibition-style supper club with live musical acts reminiscent of Harlem’s jazz clubs. Offering private dining and a small bar that accommodates 24 guests, diners are surrounded by black-and-white portraits of famous musicians scattered on the walls amongst built-in bookcases and custom chandeliers.
Marcus is located within the $1.4 billon MGM National harbor, a 24-storey destination which also includes 14 other dining options, 308 hotel rooms, a 3,000 seat theatre, a 125,000 square-foot casino and 18,000 square foot of retail space. At Marcus, Marcus Samuelsson will operate the only 24-hour restaurant on site, open from 6am to 2am, providing 24-hour in-room dining as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner service, all over seen on a day-to-day basis by executive Chef David Sears.
The restaurant sits at the base of the MGM’s central glass-enclosed atrium, which rises 85 feet and is bigger than the Bellagio in Las Vegas. There is also a huge exposed grill which is meant to offer a ‘theatrical’ experience.
The menu at Marcus includes fried chicken, blackened catfish and meatballs and pasts as well as touches of Samuelsson’s Ethiopian heritage in appetizers such as gravlax with crispy injera and jumbo shrimp with mumbo cocktail and berbere spice-charred lemon. An extensive wine list, craft beers, signature and classic cocktails and shareable punch bowls are also available.
Marcus Samuelsson is an Ethiopian-born, Sweedish-raised chef. As well as Marcus in Washington DC, Marcus has numerous restaurants including Red Rooster in London and New York, Kitchen and Table in Sweden and Norway, Marc Burger in Chicago and Marcus’ Bermuda in Bermuda.