Bar Marcel: SouthPark’s European Café

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Bar Marcel - photo credit Jamey Price

Earlier this year, Kevin and Stacey Jennings were at it again. They opened another restaurant— their tenth in about 20 years— and it might just be their best yet. 

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Libations – photo credit Jamey Price

Bar Marcel shines from the heart of South Park, just blocks from South Park Mall.

“Stacey and I have always wanted to be in South Park- who doesn’t?” says Kevin Jennings. “The area has most of the best shopping in Charlotte and some of the better dining surrounded by perfectly manicured lawns, flower gardens, and fountains. Plus, the people are well traveled and more adventurous (when dining especially) than many areas of Charlotte.”

A Pocket of Europe

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Dining al Fresco – photo credit Jamey Price

And yet, when diners settle into Bar Marcel, they feel miles away. They feel thousands of miles away, along the Mediterranean, to be precise. Part of that transportation comes from the decor. Amy Price of Starling Studio in Atlanta designed the interior to resemble a European café. The option to dine al fresco (in true Eurpoean style) is made tantalizing by colorful Spanish dining chairs, string lights, and a fountain. Italian marble bedecks the interior bar. An architectural wall inspired by the buildings along Mediterranean coastline is the focal point of Bar Marcel’s dining area. The Jennings infused their European atmosphere with airy and natural elements, incorporating walnut surfaces, leather seating, and silk textures throughout the interior. Natural light bathes the decor in daytime, and candles softly illuminate the evenings.

Tantalizing Tastes

Bar Marcel’s European influence is evident in the menu, as well. Hints of Italy (the agnolotti and potato gnocchi), France (the bouillabaisse), and Spain (the grilled pork tenderloin) abound. Small plates, charcuterie, seafood, and pasta dishes comprise the bulk of the menu. Inspired by the cuisine’s style, Kevin Jennings designed the menu to highlight stuzzichini (or finger food).

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The Fare – photo credit Jamey Price

At the kitchen’s helm is Executive Chef Nicholas Tarnate. Although Tarnate had been cooking since childhood, his coursework centered on philosophy until he picked up a copy of The French Laundry Cookbook. He trained with some of the best in culinary arts and held a head chef position at Aix en Provence before coming to Bar Marcel. “I’ll continue Bar Marcel’s focus on the roots of Italian cuisine. Specifically, I’ll pay attention to Umbria, Emilia Romagna, Sicily, and Piedmont,” Tarnate says, explaining how he’ll put his stamp on the menu. “I’ll also concentrate on French cuisine while introducing influences from Morocco, Tunisia, and Spain.”

With Tarnate in the kitchen and Kevin and Stacey Jennings pulling the strings, South Park gastronomists have much to look forward to at Bar Marcel.