by Steven Doyle
The word Mercat is the Catalan word for “market” which gives a slight foreshadowing of what diners might expect at the cozy, if not romantic Dallas Uptown bistro. The tiny space inside gives a true bistro feel, and that same sense flows out onto the patio which overlooks the beautiful green space that is part of Mercat’s sister restaurant, St. Ann. On the evening we made our last visit, the night was simply simpatico with the the beautiful song styling’s of local crooner Hunter Sullivan. As one of our first courses arrived we enjoyed tunes from the Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett songbooks. Fireflies sparked across the lawn, and beautiful wines rushed to our heads as we smiled with the perfect dining selection for the evening.
The day at Mercat starts off early morning with croissants, pastries coffee and other breakfast fare. Omelets are served all day, and the evening promises small plates and sturdier entrees. The list of starters seemed perfectly sufficient for any diner on a warm Dallas evening. Our eye was quickly drawn to Frisee Aux Lardon, veal sweetbreads, poached egg. Just remember that lardon is code word for bacon which can make any dish happy, but the sweetbreads were large, moist and bountiful making this a beautiful salad which could be enjoyed as a main course.
Fortunately, the menu is short and sweet. A beef, fish and other choices with a few very smart starter courses that will tempt you to fill your table with all the above. However the waitstaff are all perfectly capable with selection assistance, even going as far as offering an “omukazi” style of menu flights.
A few of our starters included the house-made ricotta and honeycomb that begged for a side order shishito peppers to enliven the sweet and smooth cheese. The foie gras terrine was almost as smooth as the ricotta, and just as rich with flavor.
Without any doubt the dish of the evening was the black Kingfish (Cobia), served with buttered leeks, lump crab, champagne buerre blanc. Ethereal. The braised short ribs were highly recommended, but the evening was slightly warm and seemed like it might be heavy. But on the insistence of the staff we ordered away. Surrounding the giant plot of beef was a melange of celery root puree, grilled peaches, and crème fraiche. The beef was lighter than expected, without a bit of chew. The beef laid light and enabled us to enjoy a final course of sweets, and espresso provided by Café Luxxe and Oak Cliff Coffee. A superb evening.
Mercat Bistro | 2501 N. Harwood, Dallas | 214.953.0917