Mercat Negre: Black Market Bites
You might remember when this anticipated tapas joint finally opened its Noho doors in April. Now that Mercat‘s (see my first bite review) happily settled into a local neighborhood groove and ironed out a few debut wrinkles, owner Jaime Reixach’s ready to mine another fashionable restaurant trend – the “underground restaurant”. The mystery of exclusivity’s irresistible: unpublished phone numbers, subterranean hideaways and secret entrances. It’s what makes holding table court in La Esquina and Waverly Inn so tragically satisfying. While there’s nothing technically illicit being sold – as far as we know anyway – Mercat’s underground counterpart has remained very much under wraps. Alas, I can’t keep a secret (sorry, boys).
On Friday evening, Mercat unveiled Mercat Negre. Only “friends & family” of Jamie and co-chefs David Seigal (Bouley) & Ryan Lowder (Jean-Georges) were invited to sample Mercat Negre’s chalkboard menu. Fortunately for us, there are other restaurant girls who can’t keep secrets either. A few reliable insiders were gracious enough to give us a Friday night play by play.
Keep your head down and walk directly to the back of Mercat. Descend a dark stairwell that leads you to an unmarked door. Oh, how very Alice in Wonderland – open it of course. You’ll enter into a small room with wood tables (seating for 30), an exposed brick wall and newspaper-covered wall on one side, and a bar with a meat slicer & a chalkboard menu on the other.
The menu, pared down from Mercat’s upstairs dining menu, featured foie gras, crab and raw tuna-topped crostinis, a hefty assemblage of charcuterie and cheese plates, tortilla espanola, fried artichokes as well as an assortment of grilled cheeses. My sources say the room was buzzing with a young, pleasantly noisy crowd. And initial polls reveal a three-way tie between the fried artichokes, raw tuna crostini and a sugar-rimmed glass of sangria.
No, really it’s fine. I’ll just wait for a formal invitation, boys…
45 Bond St., btwn. Lafayette & Broadway
Until we eat again,
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