Friday night was miserable. We had to drop off a bag for Josh in Soho for a sleepover so we drove because it was pouring. Afterward we decided to drive over to Bond Street and maybe do dinner at Il Buco. Unbelievable as it may seem, the entire street was open for parking. We pulled right in front and noticed that Mercat was next door. I knew it was over in that area but never put two and two together. We bagged thoughts of Il Buco and walked into Mercat. Always up for trying something new.
Nice glass front with a big long bar sets the stage. All eating is in the back, small tables and another bar that wraps around the glass enclosed kitchen. Between the bar and the kitchen sets the stage for jambon, cheese and olives. Well laid out, simple and modern. Seats about 90 people.
The menu is not large nor is it very expensive. Portions are small so if you are really hungry, it could add up. We ordered two glasses of a Rioja to start. We began with the blistered peppers. I have had these around town at the variety of new Spanish restaurants. Quite good. Blistered green hot peppers doused in salt. A good simple way to begin a Spanish meal. We also went with the classic deep fried salt Cod critters. These were not that interesting. Just not that much flavor. Served on a small white plate with an aioli dipping sauce on the side but the critters were just bland. We also had a tampande of cauliflower. Pieces of undercooked cauliflower topped with an olive paste. Just not that interesting.
We split two main courses. Catalan Fish Stew. This was pretty good but a small portion. Flavorful soup with a large piece of fish, one shrimp, two mussels and 2 scallops. The soup had a nice kick but it would have been nice to stick two large pieces of toast or bread on the side for sopping up the soup. Perhaps the wait staff at the bar wasn’t paying much attention or that is just how the soup is served. We also had the squid ink pasta. Thin noodles made out of sepia with chunks of overcooked black squid in the dish. I always love this. The noodles were a bit too al dante and there wasn’t any sauce per se but a large dollop of garlic aioli served on top which isn’t for me. Interesting concept but not well executed. Also the portion is not so big.
The food was just okay not great. Coming back I would only order cheeses, jambons and lots of red wine. They appeared to have a really nice selection of that from Spain. I was just more in the mood for a meal.
There have been a variety of new Spanish restaurants that have cropped up around the city in the past year or so. I have yet to find one that comes close to the fantastic food we had in Barcelona. Mercat, supposedly straight from the heart of Barcelona, just didn’t hit the mark. I am still looking…