Food & Drink


With the recent unpleasantness at Taco Bell/KFC, it's hard to eat at a restaurant without imagining Fievel back in the kitchen, sprinkling your hanger steak with mouse beans. To ease your mind, try a spot that proudly exposes every bit of its operation: Mercat, open today. Mercat's a Spanish joint specializing in Catalonian fare, owned by a Barcelonan who decided that once Beckham left Spain, the country had nothing left to offer him. His culinary transparency starts with a ceiling-high dumbwaiter shaft that's been converted into a glassed-in, vertical display of cured meats (basically, a meat-quarium). The shaft's fronted by a jamon station -- Mercat's way of saying, "Look at our thinly-sliced ham!" Sit at the bar overlooking the open kitchen, and you can watch cooks prep traditional tapas (e.g., fried baby squid, blistered Padron peppers) and larger plates like Fideua Negra: Cuttlefish cooked in its own ink (for the cuttlefish, the humiliation never stops). Finally, instead of a hidden wine cellar, there's an overhead wine loft stocked with 3200 bottles, including a row of 3-5 liter goliaths -- a proud, naked statement that wine drinkers can be as hardcore in their alcoholism as the most rosacea-faced whiskey guzzler. But soon, not everything at Mercat'll be readily visible -- soon, a dim underground room'll open, possibly as a tapas lounge, possibly not. There, under cover of darkness, you can feast on the smuggled-in, plague-spackled Popcorn Chicken Mexican Pizza you're too ashamed to show the world you can't give up.