I was excited to try Marcus, Marcus Samuelsson’s namesake restaurant in the new MGM Hotel & Casino in National Harbor on the tail end of a much-needed staycation at the over-the-top casino. The reasons being: I love Southern food, and I can usually count on restaurants from famous chefs in big casinos to be as over-the-top as the décor—and crowds—in most casinos.
Marcus is located smack in the sky-lit, enormous atrium of MGM National Harbor. The big box restaurant’s décor attempts to exude small-shop, Southern charm, with string lights and outdoor seating, that’s actually inside the atrium. You know, casinos. Inside, the space is quite stunning: a mix of Southern vibes, industrial architecture, and African artifacts. Somehow, it works. Marcus reminds me of all the other beautiful restaurants I’ve visited in casinos: enormous, beautiful, and yet entirely manufactured. But, as an adult you learn to appreciate people and places for what they are.
It was a Monday, and we were in a bit of a rush. We were seated “outside” on the patio, where the lighting was beautiful and the air conditioning fortunately not too chilly. Our servers were happy to accommodate our rush, as we placed our order all at once: water, coffee, grapefruit juice, pancakes, oatmeal and granola, chorizo eggs, and the omelet. Everything to share. The new beau allows me to make all the decisions at brunch—we’ve both got a bit of decision fatigue from our day-to-day lives.
The grapefruit juice was fresh and frothy, the coffee hot and smooth. Just how we like both. The oatmeal was beautifully presented: a bowl of oatmeal, with a long, china blue tray with small containers of dried fruit, honey, granola, and hot, frothy milk, which my Aussie beau oh so appreciated.
His omelet didn’t look terribly appealing: a lump of yellow egg batter filled with ham and cheese. While it was lacking in presentation, it also lacked flavor, and was served with some classic roasted potatoes.
We also shared the eggs and chorizo, served in a skillet topped with fried eggs. The dish was well-presented: bright, sunny side up eggs topped with a tomato remoulade. Beneath the eggs lay smashed, roasted potatoes and bread crumbs in a flavorful red sauce, but not a whole lot of chorizo. I like to avoid bread and to eat a lot of chorizo, so I was naturally disappointed when I found bread crumbs rather than chorizo under my order of “chorizo and eggs.” Color me high maintenance, but I feel like that goes with out saying.
Lastly, we ordered the pancakes, which were preciously presented on a red-and-white china plate and sprinkled with powdered sugar. They were good—normal to above average pancakes, but again, nothing ground breaking.
The Bitches say: B-. This is average food from a famous chef in a big-name place. We’d gone in with high hopes and exited with an average experience and nothing to remember. Perhaps we ordered the wrong dishes, but we weren’t at all impressed.