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Decatur's Mar Coastal Mexican aims for mid-May opening

Joey Zelinka signs on as executive chef

Mar, the Coastal Mexican restaurant initially scheduled to open in October 2012, is aiming to finally open in mid-May. (The Friends and Family night is tentatively scheduled for May 14 or May 15, with the public opening the day after.)

Replacing Feast, Mar was created by Humberto Bermudez, a chef who owns one restaurant in Barcelona and two in Mexico. However, although Bermudez designed the initial menu for Mar, he will not be in the kitchen. Joey Zelinka, most recently of the Sound Table, will be the executive chef and has been working furiously since he signed on late last week to finalize the menu.

“Mar is coastal Mexican first and Latin second,” says Zelinka, who hails from Miami.

Thus far, he’s determined that there will be a lot of wood-roasted proteins with a heavy emphasis on seafood. Zelinka said the proteins will be served a la carte with simple sauces and allow for pairings with sides like corn and beans and rice. He's planning to serve rib eye, filet, pompano, lobster, pork chops, and scallops, as well as a cold bar with ceviches and oysters. Zelinka will make all tortillas in house including rock shrimp carnitas with a smoked blue corn tortilla and lobster tacos with hard shells dyed black with squid ink. There will also be pork tenderloin tacos and tuna tacos with red chile, plus foie gras empanadas with dough infused with duck fat and smoked swordfish tostadas.

A large bar will focus on tequila and mezcal but also serve beer, wine, and cocktails. Wines will come from Spain and Mexico, while the beer selection is mostly Mexican, general manager Felix Castro says. Cocktails include the Summer Fling—a mixture of lemonade, mint and ginger juice with a choice of tequila or vodka, and a yet unnamed concoction of watermelon juice, mint and tequila or gin garnished with goat cheese.

Castro describes the atmosphere as “refreshing and inviting.” The building is white with blue accents and rustic touches like exposed brick and an antique wooden wheel. There are three large mirrors at the entrance to the dining room, and the bar is stainless steel. Behind the restaurant a patio features six or seven tables, and a few tables are situated in front of the restaurant as well.

Castro says he plans to get Mar on OpenTable.com soon. Visit MarCoastal.com for updates.