Hav & Mar is Marcus Samuelsson’s love letter to New York.
The celebrity chef behind Harlem’s Red Rooster has just opened his first restaurant in NYC in nearly a decade, this time heading downtown to Chelsea. With executive chef Rose Noël (formerly of Washington, DC’s Maialino Mare), he’s serving up a seafood-centric menu inspired by his Ethiopian and Swedish cultures.
“It’s not like New York needed another restaurant; it needs something that feels special and feels inclusive,” Samuelsson tells Robb Report. “It’s really a place where, whether you’re visiting New York or coming to New York or working in New York, you can be part of it.”
The name of the restaurant comes from the Swedish word for “ocean” and the Amharic word for “honey,” reflecting Samuelsson’s background. That influence continues in the food, the drinks and even the design. One of the first dishes you’ll encounter is the bread basket, filled with lentil roti, an oat porridge crisp, a cornmeal puff and a teff biscuit, served alongside an assortment of dips. The communal aspect of breaking bread was something Samuelsson wanted to highlight, because of its connotations of sharing and socialization.
Further down the menu, the Swediopian (again, the melding of cultures) is a berbere-cured salmon with mustard seed caviar and buckthorn, while the Seaside Waffle features rock shrimp and uni butter. Larger plates encompass dishes such as Mermaid Black Rice with djon djon mushrooms, crab, lobster and green peas, and Cheeks Lasagna made with kobe beef cheek, chanterelles and ricotta. A couple of family-style plates round out the offerings, with the Grand Jubilee (roasted chicken, mussels, Maine lobster, turmeric rice and lemon) drawing from rice dishes like jollof and jambalaya, Samuelsson says.
The food is paired with drinks curated by beverage director Rafa García Febles, whose cocktails and wine list spotlight women and producers of color, and purveyors focused on sustainability. The menu particularly highlights the Nordic spirit aquavit, typically flavored with caraway and other savory spices, in drinks pairing flavors like honeycomb and plum or raspberry and lemongrass.
And for the design, Samuelsson brought the artist Derrick Adams and Thelma Golden—the director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem—into the fold. Adams created a series of Black mermaids that adorn the walls, and that inspired, for example, the curvature of the bar, Samuelsson said. It’s a holistic approach to restaurant design that elevates the spatial experience to the same level as the culinary one, with an eye always toward Black excellence.
Hav & Mar is “showing we as people of color … we’re not monolithic,” Samuelsson said. “We have many different aspirations and ways of working and cooking.”