A sense of urgency is required to be a Dallas Food Nerd. From hole-in-the-wall dives to five-star restaurants and everything in between, there are so many delicious eateries with unique options for just about every palate. And if for some reason, you haven’t found one you absolutely love yet, just wait a month for one is sure to open and potentially close just as quick as Texas weather changes.
I literally have no idea how the gem known as Mercat Bistro slipped under my radar. If you’ve ever eaten at St. Ann’s, the popular brunch spot in the Harwood District, then you were just steps away from Mercat Bistro.
Wait…what….there’s a Harwood District? This is the exact response I had when restaurant manager Sean Boshears told me the same thing. There are literally about 18 blocks of commercial real estate, residential areas and restaurants being developed about two blocks north of McKinney Avenue.
Forget the economic development; let’s get on to the food.
Mercat Bistro is a contemporary European-style restaurant, influenced by French cooking where the food is the focus. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the week and tout a delicious brunch as well as dinner on Saturday. All of their pastry products are baked fresh in house.
My guest and I munched on some the bread basket and raspberry butter while Sean Boshears shared with us the history of the restaurant. With a smaller seating capacity, dim mood lighting and French-country décor, Mercat Bistro is perfect for a romantic moment with a significant other or a dinner with a group of friends. And if the weather cooperates, Mercat provides a patio area where strings of outdoor lights transport you from an Uptown restaurant to a cute French bistro.
To pair with round two of the bread basket, we sipped on a French 76 – a colorful and warm combination of cognac, lime juice, Hennessey and Prosecco. Unlike my enthusiastic friend who I was with, I am not a fan of brown liquor, but I decided to give it a try.
I am converted. The lime juice and Prosecco were bright elements that gave the Hennessey a smoother finish that was much more palatable.
Moving on to hor d’oeures. Bruschetta of Burrata & Fresh Tomatoes and Shishito peppers with ricotta and honeycomb were the appetizers of the evening and were welcome addition to our party with the French 76. Again, it was a perfect combination of flavors between the smokiness of the peppers, the bite from the ricotta and sweetness from the raw honeycomb were yummy. And for the bruschetta with burrata & fresh tomatoes….who doesn’t love cheese, bread and tomatoes together??
And now for the main entrée, I feasted upon the braised shot rib with celery root puree, apple and crème fraiche. I had not consumed beef in about six months, and this dish was worth every minute of discomfort that I experienced later. Knife – who needs a knife with short rib that tender? The crunch of the apple and smooth velvety celery puree and crème fraiche were a perfect combination of flavor and texture to the perfectly, but lightly seasoned beef. My dining companion chose the pan seared cobia, which was a Black Kingfish served on a bed of buttered leeks, lump crab and champagne buerre blanc. We then shared the sea scallops served with faro risotto, baby portabella mushrooms and emmental cheese.
My dining companion chose the pan seared cobia, which was a Black Kingfish served on a bed of buttered leeks, lump crab and champagne buerre blanc. We then shared the sea scallops served with faro risotto, baby portabella mushrooms and emmental cheese.
For the first seven minutes after we received our entrees, it was silent. There was no conversation – only eating. By the time I had looked up from my dish to ask for a sample of my friend’s meal, she had inhaled the whole thing. All that remained were a few pieces of crab.
The dramatic conclusion to our meal was not the dessert as you think it might be, but the coffee cocktails. Three words – chocolate coffee ball. Let that sink in. True to the upcoming holiday spirit, Mercat has a cocktail called Tourbillion where your server literally pours a warm veev, citronge and eggnog concoction over, you guessed it, a chocolate coffee ball. Christmas in a glass.
I chose the “clean” chai latte with Baileys, spiced rum and chai latte. Hello, holidays. With each sip, I longed for a blanket, pajamas and my favorite holiday movie. It was not as theatrical as the Tourbillion, but just as delightful.
And then the meal was complete. The delicious moment was over. All that remained was our tingling tastebuds and pictures we would continue to gush over later as you have above.
Even if Paris is not on your bucket list of places to visit, add Mercat Bistro to your list of places to eat in Dallas. Passport not required.
(Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary menu tasting, and all thoughts are my own.)