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Merkato 55


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I'm very anxious to find out what "African brasserie" food is.

Jennifer Leuzzi describes some of it in her article for The Sun, but I'll be curious to know how it works for New York diners.

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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I went on Monday for friends and family. It is bordering on a communal dining experience, in my opinion. The menu is divided into three components. There is the first, which is shareable options called kidoho, I believe, small plates and large plates. There are also two "potted options." The kidoho, is an assortment, of dips(babaganoush, hummus,..) sambals(shrimp chile,...) and four or five other categories with three items each. I had plantain chips, tripe, shrimp sambal, hummus and a few others I'm forgetting right now. they were all good with the tripe the runaway winner. The sambals are more of a condiment, kind of like in an Indian restaurant.

The small plates section, of which we had four, are all generously portioned for apps and sharing. The entrees are served a la carte, and there are options for about 6 different side dishes from which to choose. I had venison skewers (they had an African name), lamb chops (3 per order) and snapper in banana leaf. Portion size was not huge for these, but after 6 kidohos, 4 apps and three entrees for the three of us, I was stuffed anyway.

Their dessert menu was kind of Indian influenced. They had samosas, kulfi, rose water ice cream. We had these as well as a citrus salad. They had about 7 dessert options.

Prices in the kidoho are fair, in the $3-$10 range. They are meant to be shared, and you are meant to order at least one per person while you decide on the rest of your meal. Apps were $12-17 and entrees $24-32.

Flavorwise, I find it definitely in that Middle-Eastern/Indian realm. The heavy use of spices, familiar in those cuisines. Sometimes they came through a little overpowering, but mostly right on. All in all, it was a good experience. There are some interesting flavor combinations there.

Ryan Jaronik

Executive Chef

Monkey Town

NYC

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Are you sure you aren't mistaking Ethiopean for Indian? the 2 are very similar - a lot of the better traditions of south indian cooking made it's way to Ethiopia/Somalia and vice versa - like the tangy breads, the complex vegetable curries, and very much the spicing.

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I'm very anxious to find out what "African brasserie" food is. 

Jennifer Leuzzi describes some of it in her article for The Sun, but I'll be curious to know how it works for New York diners.

Actually there is no such thing as "African Brasserie" food, it just reflects the pervasive silliness in the food biz by using marketing niches that are non existent.

Even if you were to ignore the use of the term brasserie, the food isn't hardly comprehensive enough to reflect more that 3 countries out of over 50 in Africa for the restaurant to be called "African".

It may be African inspired but it is definitely not African.

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I'm very anxious to find out what "African brasserie" food is. 

Jennifer Leuzzi describes some of it in her article for The Sun, but I'll be curious to know how it works for New York diners.

Actually there is no such thing as "African Brasserie" food, it just reflects the pervasive silliness in the food biz by using marketing niches that are non existent.

Even if you were to ignore the use of the term brasserie, the food isn't hardly comprehensive enough to reflect more that 3 countries out of over 50 in Africa for the restaurant to be called "African".

It may be African inspired but it is definitely not African.

This is certainly true but that never stopped restaurants serving food from the Punjab being called "Indian" or northern or Italian foods being known as generic "Italian." Therefore it should be no surprise that the various regional cuisines of Africa should be represented by only a few (at least in this case). OTOH, it is good to see recognition of any sort of African cuisine on a larger and more visible scale in the market of NYC.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I'm very anxious to find out what "African brasserie" food is. 

Jennifer Leuzzi describes some of it in her article for The Sun, but I'll be curious to know how it works for New York diners.

Actually there is no such thing as "African Brasserie" food, it just reflects the pervasive silliness in the food biz by using marketing niches that are non existent.

Like I said, I'm very anxious to find out what "African brasserie" food is.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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This place just seems like a disaster waiting to happen..

Why do you say that? Even if it is not the greatest restaurant in the world, it should bring a higher profile to some worthwhile African cuisines.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Spice Market didn't do that.

No, but Asian cuisine already has a much higher profile in the City and many good to great restaurants. While there may be good restaurants serving various African cuisines in the City, there is not one with a high profile.

I haven't eaten at Merkato and have no real idea whether or not it is any good. It may very well turn out to be another Spice Market after all the involvement of J-G didn't keep that from being elevated. However, I suspect that Samuelsson has more personally invested and not necessarily financially in this endeavor. I will base judgment on the food and give the restaurant some time to find its legs.

Having had the cuisines of South Africa while there, I know that there is great potential from that area alone. Whether MS achieves that potential I can only hope. He does appear to have the talent and skill necessary for the job.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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The problem is that at this point it's very hard to imagine a serious restaurant opening in that area.

right. and Spice Market opened at a time when the MP was taken much more seriously. on the other hand, they haven't put a lot into the space at Merkato while Spice Market was always about the decor (genuinely exhilarating the first time you saw it) and scene.

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That's completely right, but they're still going to have a hard time convincing anyone serious to go to that area.  It's become off-putting, almost affirmatively unpleasant and inconvenient, at least on weekends (as I don't have to tell you).

Where is it?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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That's completely right, but they're still going to have a hard time convincing anyone serious to go to that area.  It's become off-putting, almost affirmatively unpleasant and inconvenient, at least on weekends (as I don't have to tell you).

You'd think someone serious by food, almost by definition, would be willing to put up with the inconvenience if the food is worthwhile. Besides, we're not talking about travelling to Jersey, here. :)

---

al wang

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I think the trick, if you're down there, is convincing anyone you're serious.

precisely. especially on weekends.

edit: these days, it's a bit like opening a restaurant in Times Square. I mean, the early word on Chop Suey is actually good...but Pelaccio can't actually be expecting foodies to go there....

Edited by Nathan (log)
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I guess maybe we're answering two different questions. Sounds like you're asking if it's economically viable for a restaurant catering to serious food lovers to open in the Meatpacking District. Quite possibly the answer is no. But if the question is if a serious food lover, such as myself, would have any problems going to the Meatpacking District for a good restaurant with an irritating clientele, the answer is I'd have no problem whatsoever as long as the food was good enough. I've put up with far greater aggravations than that for good food.

As for whether I'd be able to convince anyone that I was serious: Seriously, who cares?

---

al wang

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