Each time I’m in a different city for work, I try to find creative restaurants to dine at for the evenings free of clients and colleagues. Since there was so much buzz about Mercantile Dining & Provision, I had to try it. A quick Uber ride from my downtown Denver hotel and I arrived at Union Station, where the restaurant is located. The space is divided into a market, a bar and the restaurant.
From the spices to the charcuterie to canned and preserved goods to cheeses and coffee, the European-style Mercantile Market features products from the country’s best artisans. Mercantile Market serves breakfast from 7am until 11am, lunch from 11am until 2:30pm and what it calls ‘snacks’ from 2:30pm until 5pm. I could easily sit at the market and have cheeses and salumi from the extensive menu with one of the available wines-by-the-glass and be a satisfied customer, but, the restaurant is a can’t-miss.
About The Restaurant at Mercantile
When I checked in with the friendly hostess for my reservation, she asked if I preferred a table, a high top or the chef’s counter. Is that really a question!? Chef’s counter, of course! The dining room has views into the bustling open kitchen. There, a team of chefs uses the products available in the market to craft the dishes offered at the restaurant. Chef Alex Seidel’s culinary style is “elevated comfort food”. Mercantile Dining & Provision follows in the footsteps of sister restaurant, award-winning Fruition Restaurant, in creating seasonally-inspired food and serving it in a casual dining atmosphere without the pretenses that ‘fine dining’ entails.
About the Libations
As soon as I sat at the chef’s counter, I felt immediately pampered – service is exemplary. The beverage program and wine list mirrors the food – creative and interesting. I was going to order a glass of bubbly to set the mood for the dinner, but I was quickly given a complimentary welcome pour of bubbles – this place gets me! From the extensive by-the-glass list and to pair with my starter – ricotta flan and my pasta course – mushroom risotto, I ordered the 2014 Pinot Noir “Aux Seurrets” Clos du Moulin Aux Moines from Burgundy. It was a perfect pairing with those dishes. Next, I ordered the 2013 Leth Grüner Veltliner from Austria which paired beautifully with my entrée – octopus.
About the Food
I must say that coming alone to this restaurant was an error, as I would have liked to try just about every dish. I did manage to order three courses. First, I enjoyed the Fruition Farms Ricotta Flan, then the Acquerello Mushroom Risotto and lastly the Spanish Octopus à la Plancha. I’m an avid fan of Anson Mills grains so I had to order the flan made using Anson Mills farro verde and served with foraged mushrooms, baby turnips and a bold, fantastic fortified mushroom tea. This dish was pure comfort in a bowl with amazing earthy flavors from the mushrooms and broth contrasting perfectly with the light, velvety ricotta flan. I was somewhat pessimistic that food could get better than this starter but my doubts were quickly dissipated when the risotto arrived. This was the best dish I’ve had in recent memory. The perfectly-cooked, Acquerello rice for the risotto was creamy and was gilded by a rich, wonderfully-salty Parmesan sabayon and graced by a truffle brined egg yolk. I’ve literally been dreaming of this dish since my visit…just wonderful. Octopus is one of my favorite foods so I was pleased when my waiter recommended it. The octopus was perfectly-charred, tender and served with roasted fingerling potatoes, herb aïoli, and masterly-prepared crispy veal sweetbreads drizzled with tangy green olive crudité. Octopus and sweetbreads – I’m in heaven.
I walked into the restaurant eager to sample Pastry Chef Elizabeth Walsh’s desserts, but unfortunately just couldn’t, coffee (delicious coffee by the way, sourced and roasted locally by Commonwealth Coffee) was all I could muster.
I left Mercantile Dining & Provision with a satisfied smile on my face. Every accolade Chef Seidel and his team have garnered is well-deserved. This place is a gem.
1701 Wynkoop St #155, Denver, CO 80202. 720.460.3733.