Dining in Mercat was a spontaneous dining decision on a late Saturday evening. Mercat means market in Catalan, Catalan is a language spoken widely in Catalunya, the Northeastern region of Spain. Spanish cuisine varies a great deal from region to region, I am more familiar with the basque cuisine & catalan cuisine. Having been to Barcelona a year ago and loving the food, I knew I was in for a real treat at Mercat.
Mercat is located in a beautiful lofty space in Noho. The right word to describe the restaurant is "sexy". I particularly loved the split upper loft filled with wine bottles. I got pretty lucky too, with a last minute reservation, I somehow ended up at the chef's counter.
The tapes (tapas) on my AAA (awesome, awesome, awesome) list are:
The Col de Brusseles - brussel sprouts with chesnuts and romesco. The outer layers of the brussel sprouts were crispy, it was lightly salted. The remesco sauce, which is a Catalan specialty, was pretty good, although I ate the brussel sprouts mostly without the sauce.
Fideua Negra Amb Allioli - short noodle wih sepia in its ink. The noodle reminded me of the beehoon (thin rice vermicelli) often used in Southeast Asian cooking. This dish was very similar to what I had in a semi-hidden restaurant somewhere in the hip El Born area in Barcelona, where my friend Anja took me. That was when I had "omg, I love Catalan food" moment.
Coca D'Anec - coca bread topped with duck, pearks, spinach & hazelnut. This was my ultimate favorite dish of the night. The duck made me want to do a happy happy joy joy dance around the restaurant! It was seared, a little fatty, drizzled with some sweet/savory sauced with chunks of hazelnut, served over a bed of spinach on top of the coca bread (Spanish flatbred)....it was pretty darn great!
The tapes on my AA (pretty awesome) list are:
The Bombas - chicken, pork & beef meatballs with aioli was really delicious. Initially, I thought mixing chicken, pork & beef might be weird but the minute I bit into the meatball, I changed my mind. Somehow it worked, and the aioli added a lot of flavor, and the spice they dusted on the outside and had a hint of "Indian" to it.
Canelons "Mar I Muntanya" - oxtail canelone served with shrimp, lobster caramel & shaved manchego. This raicons (large tapas) was delicious. The shredded oxtail was wrapped in canelone (thin pasta sheet) & the shrimp was grilled. I couldn't really tell where the "lobster caramel" was though.
The tapes on my A (kinda awesome) list:
Patates Braves. It was a simple deep fried potato dish with garlic & spicy sauce. Most of the reviews I read highly recommended this dish. I was a little underwhelmed by it, it was good but it wasn't that memorable.
While cooking, the chefs were drinking from the wine porrón and passing it around to the customers. The first time I saw a porrón was on Anthony Bourdain's Spain episode. A porrón is a wine pitcher with a long nose, and you pour the wine directly into your mouth. Some experts can pour wine accurately into their mouths while holding the porrón very far away. The chef offered for me to try, but knowing how little hand-eye coordination skills I possess, and wondering simultaneously how difficult or expensive it would be to get the red wine stain out of my sweater, I politely declined. Maybe next time I'll wear a black top. :D
All Mercat Photos
Address: Mercat, 45 Bond Street (between Lafayette & Bowery), New York, NY 10012.
6 months ago