Words: Kirsten Durward Photos: Monica Tindall
If you’re hankering for a true taste of Spain and find yourself in Bangsar any day soon, may I suggest that you drop into Mercat? Just pop across the road from Bangsar Village II to find an oasis of old word European charm casually perched on the pavement. Owners David (formerly of Circus) and Jorge have invested their tastes, knowledge and expertise in opening this delightful, Barcelona influenced gastro bar. We love the funky retro urban décor, a slightly industrial feel that is softened by colourful floor tiles and plentiful soft lights.
|Chef David at Work|
‘Mercat’ in Catalan is market, and the menu is built from this concept, working with what is fresh. Although there are a few staple favourites, don’t expect to find the same dishes every day in this colourful outlet. We’re promised there will always be something to surprise and tempt the tastebuds, made from scratch with fresh, flavoursome locally available ingredients.
When we visited, Mercat was awaiting wine licensing, which we believe they now have. The temporary lack of our preferred beverage encouraged us to try something a little different in the form of European cider and bottled lager.
Cider El Gaitero (RM29++) is an old style cider with some depth and character. Much more preferable and mellow sipping than the sweeter froth that you tend to find locally.
|El Gaitero Cider|
Estrella de Galicia (RM23++) reminds me of summer in Europe. It’s a slightly rugged lager, with a nutty taste and smooth non-fizzy finish.
In contrast the Moritz (RM23++) is a smooth airy light beer.
While we’re sipping on our beverages, small dishes appear with alarming alacrity. A great complement to the cold beer is a simple plate of Anchovies or Anchoas (RM19++). These are salty with a dense flavor. A particular taste.
Monica can’t wait to dip her bread into Berenjena Escalivada (RM29++). The roasted eggplant dish has an exquisite smooth texture. We’re grabbed by the delicate nuttiness of pine nut garnish, the fresh nip of chives, and the depth of the mostillo reduction, sweetened by the lightest tinge of honey.
Delicate clouds of white fluffy cheese billow across generous ruby watermelon and tomatoes in a colourful Ensalada de Tomate, Sandia y Queso de Cabra (RM26 ++). The smoothness of the cheese melts against my tongue, with the fresh crunchiness of watermelon being a delightful contrast.
|Ensalada de Tomate, Sandia y Queso de Cabra|
A vibrant ‘dish of the day’ is flourished dramatically on a smooth black plate. Delicate slithers of Spanish codfish have been drenched in the smoothest cold pressed olive oil. Translucent baby onion fronds give a zing; fresh peppers add crispness while black olive puree bursts with flavour. Exqueixada is virtually unpronouncable, so make sure you write it down, then you can ask to taste it (RM46 ++).
Patatas Bravas (RM 22++) is such a traditional dish I’m not really expecting anything much, but when I see the creative and original presentation I just can’t wait to sink my teeth into one of those crispy creamy topped towers. Hurry up with that photography Mon! This cunning surprise carries a boost of picante under it’s crispy top, blending with the creamy potato, smooth aioli and outside crunch to send our fingers flying back for more of these little devils. ‘Ah!’ says Caning. ‘Bomboncito!’
The warm tones of Arroz con Morcilla (RM42++) are perfect for this somewhat drizzly day. Catalonian black pudding served casserole style. Fat firm, and just slightly all dente rice, peppered with green beans, pine nuts and soft cheese prompts us to dig down deep releasing a tumble of wild mushrooms juicy and dense.
|Arroz con Morcilla|
‘This smells like Spain,’ murmurs Mon as we delve into a beautiful miniature of mussels, cockles, sardines and smoked fish is extremely tempting for the pescatarian palate. Such combinations of pickled and smoked seafood are extremely popular in Barcelona. The Laterio (RM29 ++) at Mercat varies on which fish is opened. The combination that we try is truly enhanced by an original dressing which shows more than a little ‘attitude’ in its blend of lemon, red capsicum, paprika, vanilla, black pepper and olive oil.
Paella Mediterranea (RM68++) is bright and inviting, bursting with crunchy fresh looking vegetables. Monica is oohing and jumping in her seat, with anticipation, and on digging in we all love the crunchy base of this oven-finished vegetarian dish. It is tasty and thoroughly satiating with the sweetness of capsicum flooding through. Also available served with Seafood and Chicken, Paella is recommended to share between two or three, and we can see why!
In contrast Pork Belly (RM65++) is enough to satisfy any meaty craving you might have, a generous and dense portion of Spanish white pork, all three layers showing clearly. Slow cooked for 24 hours this indulgent dish has a perfectly crisp top, bursts of fat, and melting mouthfuls of soft meat. Potato foam is infused with purple garlic, and has a sticky, unctuous texture. ‘Sabroso’ is the only word I can find, while Caning claims it made his week.
We have just enough room to try a taste of dessert. Tartar de Frutas (RM23++) is mixed to eat in a fun way. The tower of teeniest tiniest fruit cubes is topped with a light and tangy yoghurt cheese topping. A great blend of textures and flavours is rounded off with a deep red fruit coulis.
|Tartar de Frutas|
Pastel del Chocolate (RM24 ++) is a flourless brownie like cake, impresses with a crunchy sticky outer and light airy centre. Served without fanfare this is ideal to accompany an afternoon coffee. We try the Cappuccino (RM 23 ++) and Mon gives the nod of approval to the Barista. The coffee is smooth and not too frothy, nicely done.
|Pastel del Chocolate|
Mercat is an elegantly urban venue with a rustic and genuine taste to its menu. Try it for an afternoon coffee, an early evening drink of a full on dinner. It’s all possible and it all gets a big yum from the three of us!
Reasons to visit: great place to hang out with friends in a relaxed style, original fresh flavourful food prepared to order, tapas style sharing menu
Mercat Barcelona Gastrobar
51 Jalan Telawi 3
+6 03 2201 5288
Mercat is open Tuesday – Friday from Lunchtime – late Evening
Saturday and Sunday all day from 10 am.