This Valentine’s Day, my guy made us a dinner reservation at Ford Fry’s (the Atlanta-based chef and restaurateur whose portfolio includes King + Duke, St. Cecilia, Superica, BeetleCat...) restaurant, Marcel. According to the steakhouse’s website, their appellation is a nod to Marcel Cerdan, “the iconic French fighter-romantic who endured ring rumbles, war, marriage, a famous affair with Edith Piaf and could only be stopped from seeing his love when his plane crashed into a mountain.”
The restaurant has a formal yet relaxed feel about it. The chic space is outfitted with old-school photographs, tufted leather banquets, and an eclectic array of light fixtures. The tables are dressed in white; a single lit candle is set atop.
We're served fresh-out-of-the oven focaccia with sides of ricotta, prosciutto, and olives. The round, flat bread is airy, cheesy, and has a touch of pesto. What a treat. This bread is among the most delicious breads I've ever been served. Bravo, Marcel, you have my attention.
To start, I order the shrimp cocktail, which features five plump shrimp that are quite large and fresh. Served with horseradish cocktail sauce, this dish truly showcases the caliber of their seafood: first-rate.
For my main course, I order the 8 oz. filet madame and the lobster risotto in herb butter (the latter is pictured above). The steak is everything you would expect from a seasoned steakhouse —served at the correct temperature (medium-rare) with the perfect char, and full of flavor. The lobster risotto is cooked perfectly; I’ve had risotto that was undercooked and it ruins the entire dish. The flavor profile is savory —rich with butter and fresh herbs, while the lobster (the tail and two claws) is succulent and well-seasoned. These entrées highlight the restaurant’s masterful culinary skills.
And no meal is complete without dessert. I order the Baked Alaska: carrot cake with cinnamon crunch ice cream and rum raisin. The dessert is brought to the table, then theatrically set ablaze. The spiced cake, cold ice cream, and browned meringue complement each other beautifully. It is sweet, but not too sweet, and delicious.
A few tables over, Tom Hiddleston, the actor known for briefly dating Taylor Swift and playing Marvel Studio’s Loki, dines with his date. This is a big deal for my comic-book-loving man, who says hello to him as we leave. Tom is very kind and friendly, in spite of us interrupting his dinner.
The service at Marcel is top-notch. The food is exceptional. The ambiance is cool, cozy, and romantic. And you’re likely to rub elbows with some stars. I will definitely be returning soon.
Marcel is located at 1170 Howell Mill Rd, Atlanta, GA 30318. For more info, visit: http://marcelatl.com/.