Mercantile Dining & Provision – Denver, CO
Ever start something, shelf it for whatever reason, and then come back to regret not writing about it sooner because it’s such a distant memory? Ok, it wasn’t THAT far back, two months is all, but it’s all a fond memory now, not crisp and almost tangible. Lesson learned, write about an experience as soon as possible so that all the details will be fresh. Luckily, I wrote down most of the dinner experience right away and left it as a draft to flesh it out later. Guess what? Later is now 🙂
Hubby and I were incredibly happy with this restaurant. We had breakfast earlier the same day (this post) and loved it so much we had to try dinner. It also piqued our interest because the hotel front desk mentioned it won a James Beard Award. The service was superb and the food was excellent. The decor was clean and I don’t mean clean as in not dirty. Clean as in uncluttered, simple, yet sophisticated. The area for dinner service was different than the “Market” area used more for breakfast/lunch (at least that’s how the space looked to be divided). The Market area was counter service, high tables, and stools, while the Restaurant area had more traditional tables, chairs, and high-backed benches.
After we were seated and perused the menu with hungry eyes we decided on the Diver Scallop Crudo. As described from their menu: marinated radish, herb-caper aïoli, cucumber vinaigrette, sunflower seeds. This was a fresh, light, tangy, melt in your mouth experience. We could’ve eaten this all day.
As delicious as the scallops were we needed more, partly due to hunger and partly because we wanted to experience more flavors Mercantile had to offer. So, we ordered the Ciabatta, which was one of the daily specials and not on the menu. Since it wasn’t on the menu I don’t know the exact details of what it all had. However, there was a pine nut paste (spread?) and roasted peppers for sure. Thankfully, I took a picture for memories. This was good in its own right, but if comparing this to the scallops, the scallops would win every time. But, why settle for one? We ordered both and didn’t regret anything.
As we waited, quite a long time actually, for the main entree to make an appearance (in all fairness we were warned it would take long), our server must have felt bad for us. He stopped by with a plate of rice crackers, jam, and cheese to tide us over. This is one of those moments I wish I had written this blog post two months ago, because I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the cheese or what kind of jam it even was 😦 I do recall our waiter raving about how it was his favorite type of cheese. Once again, here’s a picture to savor the memory.
Side note, while we were waiting for the ribeye we were googling stuff and found out that Spoon and Stable (one of our favorite restaurants in Minneapolis, MN) had a James Beard Award winner chef. It was an “of course, it all makes sense” moment. We were saying how Mercantile reminded us of Spoon and Stable, enjoyment wise, so, it was a happy coincidence that both restaurants were James Beard Award winners! This made me think of a sub category to rate James Beard Award winning restaurants, maybe “Battle of the Beards”?
Finally, our main course arrived, the Bone-in Creek Stone Ribeye 36oz. As described from their menu: truffled sea salt, peppercorn veal reduction, grilled romaine caesar salad, tallow frites. This was listed under “Family”, but we really wanted to try the ribeye so we ordered it anyway for just the two of us… what gluttons we are 😀 As mentioned earlier, this took a while to make it to our table. I’m guessing it had to do with the veal reduction because the ribeye was on the rarer side so in theory it shouldn’t take as long to cook, right? Good thing we had some amazing starters and the cheese and cracker tray to keep us sane.
When it comes to steak, both hubby and I are more purists. We like the basic seasonings (meaning salt and pepper) and allow the meat to shine in the spotlight. Therefore, even though this ribeye had a veal reduction, it was delicate and didn’t overshadow all its steak-y glory. As you can see, the size of this entree was massive (because it was meant for a family…) and we ended up bringing home about half of the ribeye.
Of course, even though we were stuffed we had to try out dessert and rounded off the evening with their Strawberry Shortcake. As described from their menu: almond financier, strawberry-rhubarb marmalade, crème fraîche ice cream. Hubby really enjoyed this dessert. He’s a big fan of rhubarb so it had a good chance to be winner. It was an elevated, deconstructed strawberry shortcake.
All in all, this was a top notch restaurant. It got me thinking, I needed a way to differentiate the best of the “Would you eat here again?” rating. After all, it’s a little controversial when a local family diner and Mercantile’s share the same rating. Hubby came up with the term “Ringer” to differentiate the best of the best. So, this restaurant would be considered a ringer. Another ringer would be Spoon and Stable. At some point, maybe towards end of the year, I’ll have a round up of the ringers and rate them.
Would you eat here again? Definitely. When’s the next flight out to Denver?
- Superb ambience and service
- Delicious, creative flavors
- Would love to taste what else Mercantile’s has to offer
- Doesn’t hurt that the restaurant has the stamp of a James Beard award!
#GoodEats #SeriousEats #MercantileDenver #DenverCO #FoodIsLife #EatingTheGoodLife #JamesBeardAwardWinner