Mercat, Noho, NYC

The Bolt Bus got me to NYC in 4 hours last night. It’s our last long weekend at school (yikes..) and I decided it was time to head back to the city and see the boy. As soon as I stepped out at Tick Tock Diner, I knew the weather Gods had been kind. It was a perfect New York night – clear skies, full moon, warm enough for sandals, cool enough for sleeves.

After a quick stop at home, we headed over to Bond Street for dinner. I’d made the reservation on Open Table and was extremely surprised to discover that the awesomeness of Mercat was only a 3 minute walk from our apartment. What a place. Rustic but minimalist, dark but candle-lit, Mercat is warm, airy and unobtrusively positioned on one of NoHo’s more trendy cobblestone streets. The walls are red-brick and unfinished, the kitchen is open-plan and the music, like the menu, is decidedly Catalonian.

Our table wasn’t ready until 9.45pm but our waitress was friendly and the service was quick and helpful. Encouraged by Yelp’s glowing reviews, we made sure to order Patatas Brava, Croquetas de Pollastre, Fideua Negra and Coca D’Anec. We also decided to try the Vedella (hangar steak), Remolatxa (warm beet salad) and vegetable croquetas. While the steak was a little tough and the capers in the salad a little contradictory, the Coca D’Anec (coca bread topped with duck, pears, spinach and hazelnuts) was absolutely divine, combining distinctly interesting flavours with a beautiful assortment of colours and aromas. The Patatas Brava were predictably addictive, the Croquetas were crisp and perfectly gooey on the inside and the Fideua Negra (noodles with squid and squid ink) surpassed all expectations.

The dishes were definitely smaller, tapas-sized and perhaps on the saltier side, but I didn’t find that it detracted from their flavour in any way. I tried the first cocktail on the menu – a delicious concoction of watermelon juice, sauvignon blanc and mint, somewhat questioningly named “Gypsy Tears” – and quickly ordered a second, with less ice. The boys drank gin cocktails (“the Dandy”) and, for dessert, we shared the obligatory churros con chocolate.

The Damage: $180 for three with two drinks each. Definitely on the pricey side but to be expected with NY tapas.
The Verdict: Mercat is chic and stylish but not overly trendy. The menu is interesting, the food is delicious, the service is friendly and the location, in my opinion, is lovably perfect.

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