Marcus @ Baha Mar - FCC Review #011
Updated: Jul 4, 2021
I’m not going to bitch about my restaurant fatigue anymore; I also love a good story so here we go.
There is an all around great spirit that up until recently I was just Instagram friends with. Malēnē (@myyounglao); is a chef, writer, a sommelier and owner of some pretty fire Chuck Taylor’s. I had the pleasure, at her invite to dine at the mock dinner service for Nassau’s newest restaurant.
Tucked away on the waterfront of the Grand Hyatt campus (head for the beach, and then west toward the water park and boom, there it is) this newly set diamond in Nassau’s fine dining crown promises to rival and in all likelihood surpass some of its on property incumbents (looking at you, Carna) and many of the off-campus incumbents.
Chef Marcus Samuelsson is a world renowned, well decorated chef and deservedly so. You've all seen him on Chopped, even you haven't dined in one of his restaurants. I had a few awesome nights at Red Rooster in Harlem, and I appreciate where his perspective on food comes from. It’s purist with a twist; passionately crafted, balanced and fresh. You don’t become a six-time James Beard award winning chef without being, well, awesome.
The exterior gives a beach house vibe; you think you’re approaching a homely family island cottage, but what you walk into is a modern island chic ambience. The sun blesses the space beautifully as it sets; a rustic place setting is laid before you and before you know it you’re engulfed in a sensory warp - the sounds, the movement, the food. The restaurant is culinary ballet, a vinyasa; it is a tango the tempo that dips you into the Michelin starred big city restaurant, but the Madison Avenue feeling let's the cuisine take the lead and dips you back to the island life with each rhythmic movement in the kitchen, or in the main dining room.
The menu is somewhat eclectic, and boastful in its simplicity. My dinner guests and I ordered an array of main courses. Thanks to Mick (@damediamogul) and Bodine (@bodinevictoria) for joining me. It really was a great night, with great food, excellent service, the perfect wines and a comfortably posh ambience.
After a few slices of Marcus' signature corn bread and house whipped butter, it was time to get into it.
From the “Raw & Cured” section: Grilled Clams were not the choice for the vanguard though they looked appetizing the flavor was a bit of a miss and the cheese element was more "mixed grocery store cheddar" than "exotic gruyere". Not to worry, even though it wasn't a personal favorite it still tops any clam dish I have had in Nassau.
I would like to take a moment here to just brace you for my dramatics.
I am a big fan of seafood, and in particular ceviche, hamachi or any kind of raw fish dish really. It’s where you get the full flavor of the fish with the lightest compliment of ingredients to enhance, rather than mask the natural umami and salt.
Never in my wildest fxcking dreams would I have thought to serve yellowtail with Coconut Milk, Sorrel and Cilantro but then again I am not an award winning chef. It was like a Chopped basket come to life, a kaleidoscope for your tongue. There is sweetness, there is citrus, there is a creamy hint of coconut and as a cilantro lover that blush of green-tanginess touches every corner of your palate. An immaculate dish.
Jumping into starters; fresh local heirloom tomatoes are the star of the Local Tomato Salad, the burrata was blissfully delicious, and creamy and the cane vinegar set well with the sweetness of the tomatoes and the elegant savory-ish finish of the grilled scallions.
For wines, at this phase we were deep into a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. I trusted Malēnē, and our server to choose the wines without inquiry so I can’t recall the wineries, unfortunately.
We also had crab cakes. We had four of them actually. There is no bread, no fluff, no bullshit in these crab cakes. Pure crab meat cake. Friggin’ delicious. Served with sweet pea mockamole and pickled chili with “zoodles” a top, eating one is hard, but eating 4 is easy. You’ll understand exactly what I mean when you try them.
Bodine had the Miso Glazed Grouper; the fennel, the house made miso and perfect temperature on the grouper gave this dish a stand-alone flavor. It was light, and flavorful; the Nam Pla (fish sauce) seemed to filter through the grouper by osmosis and draw out even more of the under sea taste expected from our local fish.
Mick had the Colorado lamb chops; simply grilled, simply seasoned, and elegantly presented. They were cooked perfectly to a medium temperature and none of the natural flavor was lost, it was re-engineered by fire and every bite was tender and consistent. The thing about lamb chops is to make sure that you don't lose the fatty flavors in the cooking process and that the salt, pepper and other spices don't over power each other. Balance is the name of the game. The lamb chops achieved nirvana.
As for me, I am a carnivores carnivore and so the 10-oz Tenderloin immediately got my attention.
I’ve developed a reputation with dinner guests for being a bit of a hard ass when it comes to steak. I always emphasize I want a perfect medium rare. There is no other way to eat a good cut of beef and I won't ever hesitate to send a steak back to the kitchen.
This tenderloin was 100% perfect. It was so soft I am sure I could have cut through it with a fork. The quality of beef is par only to Carna of the steaks I have tried at Baha Mar, and actually Marcus’ tenderloin is superior in my humble opinion. Thoroughly enjoyed every bite.
For a little razzle-dazzle, we also had the Fried Yard Bird with baked beans. The beans were a miss, but the chicken was fried perfectly. The citrus plus hot honey combination made me feel like I was eating a very sophisticated piece of southern fried chicken, the beans while intended to be a compliment, didn't give the flavor pairing which I think they were aiming for. They weren't bad, just not my taste.
The skin on the chicken was crispy and a little flaky, the meat was moist and seemed to have been brined because the flavor cut through to the bone. This isn’t your regular yard bird. This is a yard bird that moved on up to the East side.
By now we’d finished the Chardonnay and switched to the Cabernet Sauvignon.
I didn’t have much of a sweet tooth, but Mick and Bodine rightly made the point that you simply had to try a little of everything for completeness. I didn't put up much of a fight.
There was the Tropical Passion, a decadent carrot cake with passion fruit and streaks of the most delicious caramel; every fork full was a sugar lovers orgasm.
The Viking; an intriguing and mysterious sorbet was very refreshing and a great finisher. It was like a deconstructed key-lime and raspberry pie, complete with bits of meringue to make a texture tower from which you leap into the saltiness of the meringue, fall through the key lime tang and then land on the tartness of the raspberry.
The Pinot Noir was doing the trick at this point.
A multifaceted dining experience, Marcus is a welcomed venue to the Nassau culinary map. Few restaurants commit to navigating the course of local produce and ingredients with such conviction and execute it with such depth, and aptitude.
Go check them out! I might pop by this evening for a glass of wine actually, it is their opening day after all!
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