Now I should start off by saying that I am pretty good friends with Nathan Sasi and his gorgeous wife Sali. However, regardless of this my experience at Mercado blew my socks off. Now I have been lucky enough to taste Nathan's cooking before (twice when he was head chef at Nomad and once at my home. That's right, Nathan Sasi himself prepared, cooked and served up a three course meal in my kitchen) so I knew I was in for a treat.
Nathan's love of food is infectious and I admire how much work he puts into his cooking. You may think that the wagyu tongue and tomato toastie is a weird yet fancy sandwich, however, let me tell you that this artisan sandwich was made from the absolute bottom up. Curing and drying his own meat, milling the flour for his very own brioche dough and in house pickling of his green tomatoes. See, it's not just a weird and fancy sandwich it's the mother of all toasties made with the love, sweat and tears of the chef himself and one of my favourites of the night.
I am not exaggerating when I say we were literally pumped full of food. My choice of outfit was a complete no no by the end of the evening. My bulging tummy fighting against the nipped in waistband of my jumpsuit is something no woman should ever have to go through.
When they started clearing away our plates I thought, "oh great, dessert!" Oh how wrong I was, that was just entrees. By this time I was really wishing I had held back on my third piece of homemade bread with buffalo milk ricotta and honey and second helping of foie gras parfait with pickles. Actually if I'm honest I wasn't that sorry about the parfait, in fact I'm sure if I tried I could've squeezed a bit more in an empty corner of my stomach somewhere. This light as air delicacy was definitely up there with the toastie.
When entrees finally stopped bombarding our table it was onto the mains. Beautiful, clean, flavourful and feast like. The table was all the colours of the rainbow with spit roasted chicken, spit roasted lamb and an incredible spit roasted wagyu beef blade cooked perfectly rare.
The explosion of colours came in the form of a beautifully dressed green salad, wood fired carrots with dukkah and soaked currents, dripping potatoes cooked in no less than five types of fat and the most interestingly flavoured toasted grain and rice salad. I can't quite put my finger on the flavour but what ever it was it was damn good.
As we all sat and groaned in disbelief as to just how much food we managed to put away Sali quite sternly told Nathan to only bring out one of each dessert. Just enough for a mouthful each. This request obviously fell on deaf ears as Nathan, true to form, brought out two of each and having just said good bye to a couple of our friends the odds of finishing dessert were seriously against us.
In saying that we gave it a damn good go. I really can't fault any of the desserts. Perhaps the gateaux basque with cherries was not to my personal taste (although the vanilla sauce that accompanied it I could've drunk straight from the jug) but maybe that was a blessing in disguise. On the other hand the rosewater and pistachio trifle made with a layer of filo pastry between with sponge and the cream was absolutely as good as it looked. Decorated with a sprinkling of edible flowers it looked too good to eat........of course that didn't stop us. However, my favourite of the desserts had to be the brown butter Magdalenas, fresh out of the oven and dipped in a orange and cardamon curd. Hello new best friend.
I couldn't be more proud of Nathan and what he has created. Sitting in the stylish, underground dining room, inspired by 1930s New York with timber and brass fittings and simple mood lighting reflecting off the cleverly placed mirrored and glass surfaces the space feels bright, comfortable and homely.
Nathan has put his heart and soul into Mercado and it shows. Located on the corner of Ash Street and Angel Place this heavenly establishment has been given the wings to fly into my top restaurants in Sydney.