went to much-hyped mercat on friday night.
all said, it was a pretty impressive experience, considering they had been open for just 3 nights.
early reservation, 7pm.....the bar area was crowded but the dining area was just filling up. we left at 930 and the place was pretty packed by that time. the space is lovely, high ceilings, rustic wood floors and tables. service was friendly and the sommelier seemed to know his stuff. wine list was good, all spanish, though maybe a bit pricey.
the food? nicely prepared, quickly delivered and quite delicious (though in a pretty traditional tapas sort of way, no real new ground here). razor clams were cooked simply with olive oil and some herbs and then broiled. fantastic. fried artichokes were ok but a bit more of a pain to eat than was warranted by their flavor. the fried potatoes were simple but fantastic. pork belly had a nice crust on it and a rich flavor, but the standout dish was baby squids and fideos, all cooked in the squid ink. it was rich in flavor and had an incredible mouthfeel. for something so simple, i have been thinking about it since friday night.
cheeses were basic and spanish as well.
all said, i think it's a welcome addition to the neighborhood. i'll be back.
The razor clams were pleasant enough, but otherwise I had a completely different experience. The noise level, thanks to the bare brick and tile walls, is horrific. Jamon serrano tasted powerfully of mildew and was sent back: a replacement platter was edible but poor quality. The sausages served alongside it were poor too (from where? not Despana, anyway). Snails on a skewer were good, but other dishes were forgettable: bland monkfish, very fatty pork belly with un-Spanish sweet sauce (cherry?), sardines were mushy, bunyols de baccala might as well have been made from scrod as salt cod - flavorless.
I left deafened and hungry. It's a fantastic success, of course.