The Mercer Kitchen
99 Prince Street
New York, NY 10012
Ever since my dad took me to Jean Georges’ restaurant in the Trump Hotel, I have been a huge fan of his dishes and I had a goal to try his other restaurants in Manhattan. That being said, I was very excited when I had the opportunity to go to another one of his restaurants, The Mercer Kitchen, the other day. Although I have heard great things, I have to admit that I was not as impressed as I thought I was going to be.
I headed to the Mercer Kitchen on a cold Thursday afternoon with my friend and her parents to catch up and relax after leaving an art exhibition.
We walked into the restaurant and felt the warm, heated air hit our faces which was a nice change of pace considering it was freezing outside. The hostess led us downstairs where we were seated near the very crowded bar. I have heard that the Mercer Kitchen is really trendy, and that theory was definitely proved right when I saw the profusion of young, attractive people standing by the bar.
(photo from nycgo.com)
After observing the scene, I sat down with my friend and her parents and we ordered drinks (I obviously ordered a glass of pinot grigio) and then we proceeded to browse the menu. I love me some lamb, so I decided to order the Jamison Farm Lamb Shank with greenmarket beans and leeks, red wine and ancho chili. My friend’s father and I ended up ordering the Peekytoe Crab and squash blossom tempura with cherry tomatoes and raspberry vinaigrette to start with and share. My friend also ordered Maine lobster with roasted garlic, artichokes, and fingerling potatoes for her entrée.
Our drinks came quickly and we sipped on them as we caught up and told stories. After quite a while, all of our dishes (appetizers and entrées) came out at once. I was surprised that the appetizers came with our entrées, but then again I was not sure if my friend’s father asked for it that way because they love to share each dish.
The table was covered in plates, but I decided to start with my Jamison Farm Lamb shank. I took a bite of the lamb and it was very rich and earthy. Sometimes lamb shanks can be pretty dry, but in this case, it was silky and I chewed it with ease. The shank was already smothered in red wine sauce, but surrounding the shank was the ancho chili with greenmarket beans and leeks. I dipped my next bite in the chili and noticed that it was surprisingly sweet and creamy. The sweetness of the chili contrasted the taste of the red wine drenched, earthy lamb shank and really gave the dish some pizzazz.
I was so caught up in my lamb shank that I forgot to try the Peekytoe Crab beforehand. When I did, I actually felt pretty let down. I thought the crab would be warm and smooth, but it ended up being cold, a little too sweet and had a really fishy taste. The squash blossom tempura also felt soggy underneath the crab, but I was not sure if that was due to the fact that I put off eating it for ten minutes or just the way it was served.
I did not have a chance to try my friend’s Maine Lobster with roasted garlic, artichokes and fingerling potatoes, but my friend seemed to be a bit unsatisfied. In the menu, they do not inform you that you are only getting the lobster tail. Usually when I eat a Maine lobster I feel stuffed to the brim at the end of the meal, but it wasn’t the case for my friend who claimed that she did not even feel like she had just consumed lobster tail. When I asked her about the quality of the tail, she also did not seem too enthusiastic. It seemed pretty plain and to be honest, I think it is overpriced (even for lobster) because you only get the tail and are not informed on the menu that the tail is the only part you will be getting.
(taken with @nycdining Instagram)
At the end of the meal, I felt pretty let down because I had such high hopes for the Mercer Kitchen! Although I enjoyed my lamb shank, I was pretty bummed with the Peekytoe crab appetizer and it bothered me that my friend did not fully enjoy her lobster. I may return again to take another route and order the Pizza with Black Truffle and Fontina cheese or the Mercer Burger because I have heard great things, but as of now, I believe that the Mercer Kitchen has a better “scene” than food. The food was not bad, don’t get me wrong, but I was just expecting a little more than an adequate meal. I will definitely update my post again to give you a deeper perspective if I decide to go back to the Mercer Kitchen, but as of now, I plan on trying Jean George’s ABC Kitchen before I decide to return. Over all, 3.5 stars for a good atmosphere, a variety of New American dishes on the menu that seem very appealing, and the delicious lamb shank.