There’s a song by The Temptations titled “My Girl” that I found myself unconsciously humming as I sat down to write about “My Marcus” at Baha Mar Fish+Chop House experience, and rather than the lyrics “I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day”, I found myself humming, “I’ve got salmon belly on my mind”, as my subconscious refused to let go of a simple, yet stunningly beautiful dish on the raw and cured menu of salmon belly with nori, uni, and pickled daikon. In its simplicity, this dish’s mouthfeel was amazing. It’s one of those dishes that is not even listed as a must-have menu of acclaimed Chef Marcus Samuelsson.
That was after starting my meal with Chef Marcus’ must-have cornbread with hot buttered rum. Dare I say, this was the best cornbread I’ve ever had. To be honest, I would eat this cornbread for dessert. If you say something as “homey” as cornbread is not to be missed, then it obviously must be something special. Marcus’ cornbread certainly is something special. Actually, it’s a personal favorite of the chef, and now mine, too.
The hamachi with coconut cucumber, sweet potato and chili – again from the raw and cured section of the menu – is a flavorful treat that gets your tastebuds firing for the remainder of the meal.
I had to have the conch fritters with curry remoulade and pickles to see what Chef Marcus did with this Bahamian classic; as well as the whole fried chicken that I’d had before, but I needed to see if that wasn’t just a first taste fluke and if it really lived up to my memories; and I vacillated between the rock shrimp and grits and the spaghetti Piccadilly – I opted for the spaghetti Piccadilly with crab, uni, lobster, and Calabrian chili – because let’s face it, sweet crab and lobster and briny uni – sold.
I must admit, while I loved the flavors of the fritter dish as a whole with the curry remoulade and the pickles, I had to be open-minded that this was the chef’s interpretation of a Bahamian conch fritter as it has salted fish, and potato flour with conch, which made it gluten-free, and not at all the texture that a Bahamian expects from a conch fritter. So, if you’re ordering the conch fritters, don’t go in expecting the Bahamian thing. Maybe it should be called a seafood fritter instead.
As for the spaghetti Piccadilly, the true Bahamian in me that loves spice, appreciated the flavorful punch that the salty, smoky and dare I say fruity pepper that the Calabrian chili brought to this dish. It was a nice level of heat that left a lasting impression on the tongue with the garlicky flavor and the fresh, herbal-licorice flavor of the Thai basil. This ended up being a delicious dish, with a crispy topping for texture, even though I would have loved to have seen more of the seafood.
The whole fried chicken is definitely a thing of beauty – from presentation to taste. The chicken is fried whole, chopped, dusted with berbere, a mildly hot Ethiopian traditional spice and served with a passionfruit hot sauce, honey, a side of pickles and biscuits. The chicken presented is crisp, crackling skin enrobing a moist interior, which when paired with the passionfruit sauce and honey, makes the tastebuds sing. It’s a hit dish that comes to Marcus Fish+Chop House from another restaurant in his empire – Red Rooster.
For a whimsical ending to the meal, I opted for the Sunday AF and was warned by my server that the dessert is massive, but I was drawn to the idea of a brioche donut with berbere peanut caramel corn, strawberry sorbet, coconut sorbet, fudge sauce, chocolate sauce and Chantilly. I barely made a dent into the sweet ending that this dessert presented, but I gave it the old college try, and my sweet tooth was definitely satisfied.
There are some menu items that I have my eye on to try when I return including the oysters with passion fruit peri-peri (peri-peri is an African bird’s eye chili) and a hibiscus mignonette; the miso glazed grouper with grilled Napa, and sour orange ponzu (as I love miso); and I’m intrigued by the black crab Bolognese with conch, smoked tomato, basil, sour orange and gremolata; and as I bypassed the rock shrimp and grits, that’s one of those dishes that I must have on my next visit. I visited Marcus Fish+Chop House on the first day of lobster season and couldn’t help but be tempted by the whole grilled lobsters served with clarified butter and garlic aioli that flew out of the kitchen as diners took advantage of the fresh offerings from the Bahamian sea at the newest culinary outpost that features locally and sustainably caught seafood, fresh produce and premium dry-aged cuts and innovative craft cocktails.