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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  The mystery of exclusivity’s irresistible: unpublished phone numbers, subterranean hideaways and secret entrances.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,
Restaurant Girl
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