25 Apr 2017 • Terri Chen
What makes MARCUS, Marcus Samuelsson
For Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s very first standalone restaurant in the U.S. capital, he chose Parts and Labor Design to deliver a space that celebrates Americana style through the cultural lens of Baltimore and the iconic seat of the country’s federal government.
Samuelsson is an Ethopian-born, Swedish-raised, New York-based chef and restauranteur, who has made multiple appearances on culinary shows and competitions, most notably Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown and The Next Iron Chef.
The restaurant’s aesthetic pays homage to Samuelsson’s diverse heritage and multicultural personal style, by celebrating a rediscovery of American craft rooted in African-American influences as well as local music and urban lifestyle.
Inspiration from modern and colonial styles can be seen in the geometric floor tile and furniture of the outdoor patio that serves as the entrance to the 5,290-sq-m restaurant, which is backed by a glass façade. The intricate compass rose inlay on the floor of the entry hall recalls an era of American craft and exploration, while the dining room showcases African-influenced art, including photography and custom-made tribal tapestries.
A central open kitchen and bar counter features wooden coffered ceilings and colonial millwork in a deep amber and cream palette. Behind the kitchen, antique craftsman tools such as saws and drills are proudly displayed on brass hooks.
Those in the know will make their way to the back of the restaurant, and slide open a French-colonial-style door to enter a private supper club that is insulated from the bustle of the rest of the restaurant.
It has the exclusive vibe of a classy Prohibition-era dive, with a programme of live musical performances reminiscent of Harlem’s famous jazz clubs. The décor is punctuated by black-and-white portraits of famous musicians, which hang on the walls amongst built-in bookcases and custom chandeliers. With the capacity to accommodate 24 guests, the space serves as a private dining area with a small bar.
Marcus is a contemporary restaurant heavily influenced by heritage, incorporating the flavours and style of both Chef Samuelsson and Washington D.C. itself.