Our Man Sietsema at Merkato 55

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This week, Our Man reviews Marcus Samuelsson's new pan-African restaurant, Merkato 55. He finds much to recommend, an endorsement that should carry a lot of weight, given Our Man's longtime interest in African cuisine.

Our Man reminds us not to fear the Meatpacking location (or MePa, as it is lately, and annoyingly, called). "Herman Melville wandered the cobbles long before Lindsay Lohan," he writes. Onward!

Among the Ethopian selections, Our Man finds that the doro watt has "marvelous depth of flavor" and the kitfo, a beef tartare cooked just slightly with hot, spiced butter, has a "wild richness."

The foie gras chutney is less successful, causing Our Man chase little bits of liver around the bowl. Don't make Our Man chase little bits of liver around the bowl!

The pita bread also meets disapproval—"cardboardy material that might better be sent to the troops in Iraq as body armor," Our Man helpfully suggests.

All in all, though, Our Man admires Chef Samuelsson's sweeping, continent-wide scope, and wonders if this restaurant will make African food the Next Big Thing.


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