NYC's Top New Tapas

By Ratha Tep Posted June 25, 2007

On Saturday night, Bond Street's Mercat—my favorite tapas spot of the moment—spawned Mercat Negre (or "Black Market"), a subterranean 30-seater accessible through the restaurant's back stairwell with some decidedly fresh takes on bar food. In the words of Mercat co-chef David Seigal, here's what to expect:

On fork- and spoon-free eating: "We don’t use utensils. We serve food on skewers (jamón serrano and pineapple) or on toast (tuna tartare with crushed chicharrones, or fried pork skin). We also have different gazpachos in glasses a bit bigger than shot glasses, but the idea is to tilt it back. We also make bikinis, or little three-inch by three-inch sandwiches that are like paninis, but they're thinner and smaller and made with white bread (though not Wonder Bread!) instead of crusty bread. The notion we're getting at is picar, or to pick around and graze."  

On prices: "All the food is $2 to $3."

On light summer drinks: "We have some housemade sangrias that won't be available upstairs, like the 1899 (named after the year Futbol Club Barcelona was founded), which is basically our own lemonade with cava and mint, and we also serve a blend of freshly juiced honeydew and Txacoli, a light Basque wine."

On the boarded-up feel: "Jaime [Reixach, the owner] brought back a huge stack of La Vanguardia, Barcelona's daily newspaper, from the pre-Franco years he found at an antique market outside of Barcelona. What we have on the walls are mostly front pages."
 

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