By Andrea Strong Posted March 18, 2008, 9:35 AM EDT
The culinary traditions of Africa are the centerpiece of Marcus Samuelsson’s Merkato 55. Dutch architect Menno Schmitz outfitted the space with African maps and murals on the walls and proverbs etched into ebony tabletops. The diverse menu includes chicken and peanut stew from Ghana, merguez (a spicy sausage) with corn pap and chili mustard sauce from North Africa, and chickpea dumplings with spiced butter from Ethiopia. The Kidogo Bar (kidogo is Swahili for “small plates”) offers an assortment of dips, snacks, fritters, and breads well suited for large groups. The restaurant’s second floor holds 150 for cocktails or 96 for seated dinners. A spacious and secluded private room is available on the lower level as well.