When life grounds you (or your friend’s plane), you brunch. Easy as that.
When a fellow foodie friend, Cat (@catty), found herself with a cancelled flight (London, when will you learn?), we decided to make impromptu brunch plans. Having heard so much about it and sadly never visiting, I thought it was the perfect chance to finally try Mercer Kitchen. When you first walk into the restaurant, you will find yourself in the bar area, with a few tables. Straight back, you can see a seating area – which is actually a part of the Mercer Hotel. When you go downstairs though, you find the main dining area, which managed to be both elegant and warm.
I finally decided on their slowly baked salmon, served with a corn pudding and celery maple vinaigrette. The salmon was moist and flavorful. The vinaigrette was a bit spicy, which I liked even though I wasn’t quite expecting it with the maple aspect. I really liked that there was a decent helping of the vinaigrette as it really made the dish. The corn pudding was on the bland side though, which was unexpected. It didn’t quite line up with the rest of the dish. Take this out of the equation, and it would be an upgrade. Cat had the sea scallops, which were served with peas and a smoked bacon vinaigrette.
And we had to admit, in part we went for a savory brunch entree so that we could also peruse another option: dessert. Ranging from $7-10, the majority of the desserts contained fruit. I was curious about the Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake, which they serve along with Cocoa Bean Brittle and Vanilla Bean ice cream. There was also their cheesecake, served with cherries jubilee and cherry sorbet. However, I was won over by the Raspberry Almond Crisp, prepared with raspberry cream and raspberries.
I was surprised when the dessert came out, expecting it to be more akin to a standard fruit crisp (fruit on bottom, topped by oats or something of that fashion, baked). Instead, it was made of thin, crispy almond wafers, stacked three high with a generous serving of fresh raspberry cream at each level. Oh. My. Once I figured out how to eat the thing (it was too pretty to demolish, but I finally did), I found it was perfect. What I liked about the raspberry cream is that it really tasted like the fruit in smooth form, without taking on the overly sweet flavor so many fruit creams have. So good. The crisp almond wafers were a nice contrast to the smooth cream.
Cat ordered the passion fruit soufflé, which was served with a passion fruit ice cream. The soufflé hands down was the fluffiest I have ever seen. The flavor was very rich and this was a perfect dessert for a cold December day. The ice cream, however, was very odd. Something was off. We couldn’t tell if the milk from which it was made was sour? The soufflé though was perfect – enough on its own. It’s a rare day when I’d say fruit over chocolate, but I daresay it might be the way to go here.
Overall, I was very pleased here. The service was attentive, the ambiance warm, and the food consistenly outstanding. I will definitely be back here.
Mercer Kitchen – 99 Prince Street (at Mercer Street) – 212.966.5454