Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson is opening his first new restaurant in New York City in almost a decade. The 5,000 square-foot, 125-seat Hav & Mar is now open in Chelsea at 245 11th Avenue at West 26th Street.
Like Red Rooster, which opened in Harlem in 2010, Hav & Mar is designed to be a neighborhood restaurant. “Chelsea is such an iconic neighborhood,” says Samuelsson, who points to going to clubs in his youth as well as its vibrant arts scene that incubated many artists’ careers.
The restaurant takes its name from the countries that have shaped his identity, with “hav” translating to ocean in Swedish and “mar” meaning honey in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. In that vein, Samuelsson says he’s encouraging staff to highlight their own heritage through food and drink. “Our hope is that Hav and Mar,” he says in a press release, “is a reflection of Black joy and excellence.”
Brooklyn native chef Rose Noël who had been running Maialino Mare (now closed) in Washington, D.C., oversees a menu of small plates, bigger plates, family plates, and sides, showcasing seafood in dishes like Swediopian ($21), a berbere-cured salmon with mustard seed and buckthorn, or Addis York ($21), doro wat with ayib (cheese) and a soft-boiled egg. A bread basket features lentil roti, an oat crisp, a cornmeal puff,a teff biscuit, and a collection of dips and butters ($15).
Noël is joined by chef de cuisine Fariyal Abdullahi, head baker Farheen Jafarey, and general manager Franshelis Montalvo. Beverage director Rafa Garcia Febles has assembled a drink menu that emphasizes women and producers of color who embrace progressive, sustainable practices.
Tucked in the Starrett-Lehigh building in Chelsea that’s also home to the recently opened Olly Olly Market, Samuelsson showcases the work of Black artists, commissioning work by multidisciplinary artist Derrick Adams and working with Thelma Golden, director of the Studio Museum in Harlem. One of Adams’ pieces in the restaurant is called, “We Are From The Water Too,” which is a series of Black mermaids and vibrant patterns across the restaurant.
Samuelsson says he’s drawn to the craftsmanship and collaboration throughout the space and among staff. “How can this be a place of joy? In the pandemic, the joy was gone,” he says. The mental health of the staff is a priority at this restaurant. “I don’t want my team to burnout. There’s a joy among the team and I want to keep it here.”
Dinner service starts Tuesday, November 15; hours are seven days a week, 5:30 to 11:00 p.m. Lunch service will follow in a few weeks, a spokesperson confirms.