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“Merkato 55”


  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out New American MeatPacking Moderate Great

It was a few years ago now that I went to South Africa, and while the most memorable aspect of the trip was an unfortunate mechanical malfunction of our airplane and an emergency landing (that has since resulted in a white-knuckle fear of flying), my weeklong Safari in Kruger National Park was indeed extraordinary. It was a fantastic adventure, mostly because I’ve never been so close to animals as magnificent and ferocious without a fence and a row of children eating peanuts between us. How humbling. In between riding out on the dusty dry roads of the animal kingdom, scouting for leopards, flirting with giraffes, marveling at the hippos romping in the mud and the majestic lionesses in wait, I also managed to learn a little bit about South African food. We dined on fat chickens seared and crisped on the outdoor grill and slathered in peanut sauce, we ate puffy breads dusted in sumac and cumin, pulling them apart to scoop up lemony dips made from chickpeas and eggplant. We were served stews stocked with braised meats and livened with nuts and chiles. Breakfast offered warm fresh-baked loaves of brown bread, thick oat porridges and exotic fruits heavy with the sweetness from the hot sun. I returned to my real life with a sense of wonder—watching animals all day long gives you a very peaceful and, quite honestly, an almost perma-stoned perspective on life. I was left with a diary filled with musings about my life collected at the end of these long quasi-drugged days, written by flickering candlelight under a mosquito net. It was very Out of Africa.

Since my return, to be honest, I’ve lost that sense of wonder and awe. It’s something that retreats all too quickly once real life sets in. But I’ve never forgotten that trip—the stories of the people I met, or the concerted ceremony of flavors in the food. While I’ve eaten plenty in the years between then and now—Italian, French, Vietnamese, Cuban, Chinese, Southern, Mexican, Peruvian, Japanese, Thai, Malay, and on and on—I hadn’t found a meal that could take me back to Africa. That is until a few weeks ago at a place called Merkato 55.

Tackling this continent and its glorious culinary wonders at Merkato 55, is Aquavit’s Marcus Samuelsson, an Ethiopian-born chef who was adopted and raised by a Swedish couple from Göteborg, Sweden. The project makes sense. First, Samuelsson schooled us on the art of Swedish fish and aquavit, and ... [more, click below]

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Other restaurants in MeatPacking :
+ Paradou   + Florent   + One   + Bivio   + Spice Market   + Ono   + 5 Ninth   + Fatty Crab   + Del Posto   + Morimoto   + Los Dados   + 5 Ninth   + Merkato 55   + Scarpetta   + The John Dory   + The Standard Grill   + Bill's Bar & Burger   

1.)villeny
“Loved it!”

so tasty! make sure to get the snapper on banana leaf in broth -- delicious!! so was the ginger mojito!

2.)
“thanks!”

i am so glad you enjoyed the review and i hope you enjoy merkato 55 too. let me know!

3.)perfect bound
“a beautiful meal”

I enjoyed your review and the opportunity to relive the entire meal! Delicious from start to finish.

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