Saturday, January 30, 2016

2016 Menu: Mercat Barcelona Gastrobar @ Telawi, Bangsar

On a Friday night, Mercat is filled nearly to the brim with customers, humming with the sounds of life & laughter, as dish after dish of remarkable culinary creations float out of the kitchen, landing on tables overflowing with bottles of wine & snifters of gin & tonic. Over the past 16 months, this restaurant has matured into a cornerstone of terrific cooking in Telawi, doing complete justice to the Catalan tapas bars that its founders David Caral & Jorge Fernandez & their team work extremely hard to evoke.

Mercat's menu evolves constantly, so it's worth returning consistently for new entries to the restaurant's creative repertoire. To whet the appetite, this ravishing trio of tapas showcases surprising flavours & rousing textures - Esparragos en Lata, a striking composition of invigoratingly fresh asparagus on a soft, light bed of asparagus foam (RM18), Esquiexada, comprising salted Spanish cod fish crowned with bell peppers, tomatoes, tapenade & olive oil, perfectly proportioned for produce-driven pleasure (RM18) & Calamarcitos, a delicate medley of grilled baby squid made nuanced with edamame, onions, & potato foam (RM24).

If you're pursuing robust flavours, the hunt should lead to the Iberico ham tartare (RM59) - it might border too close to raw pork for some customers, but this is top-flight meat that's well worth savouring, supplying a tender chew with the compelling dimensions of flavour that the word Iberico conjures. You can also opt for high-grade anchovies that burst with brininess (RM29) or traditional fideau, featuring thin pasta, fried & firm, richly flavoured with the seafood broth that it's cooked in (RM41).

Be it the bounty of the ocean or the largesse of the land, Mercat excels on either count - if the catch is as fresh as can be, Mercat might serve a special Suquet de Peix, a moreish sort of fish soup mixed with mussels & potatoes  (RM59). Another possible highlight, available depending on supply, is the muscularly flavoured Txogitxu premium beef - painstakingly imported from the Basque county, reflecting how many of Mercat's marvels won't be found at any other outlet in KL - partnered with polenta fries & padron peppers on a hearty platter constructed for sharing (RM178). With a feast like this, it's ideal to conclude on a reviving note, with the classic crema catalana (RM24) or perhaps an experiment that will soon officially be introduced at Mercat - Gin & Tonic on a plate, essentially a jellied reinvention of the cocktail, served with smooth ice cream (RM26).

Speaking of Gin & Tonic, Mercat is cultivating a reputation as one of the city's top purveyors of that beverage (David & Jorge are both gin-&-tonic devotees), offering multiple versions beautifully crafted with impeccable ingredients, comprising double shots of gin paired with thoughtfully chosen garnishes & slow-melting large ice cubes in balloon-shaped glasses. Choose one based on your preference of flavours, but you won't go wrong with the exhilarating Siderit Hibiscus (RM54; Spanish Siderit gin with strawberries and pink peppercorns), Williams Chase (RM64; with apple and lemon peel), Martin Millers (RM59; with lemon peel and juniper berries) or Seagram's Gin (RM69; with orange peel). And there's no lack of other lures for liquor lovers, from the purity of the oak barrel-aged Citadelle Reserve gin to the digestif goodness of the Marc de Cava Esencia Torello, distilled with grape remnants from the processing of Cava. It was all a blast - many thanks to Mercat for having us back.

51 Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. Mon-Fri, 4pm-12am, Sat-Sun, 12pm-12am. Tel: 03-2201-5288

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  1. Potato foam is a first for me. :)

    1. Linda: i love potatoes in practically any form, heh :D

  2. Fish soup with mussels & potatoes definitely a yes for me! :D
    We walked past here a couples of times, I remember it always crowded.

    1. CK: the mussels at mercat are always good :) ya, this restaurant definitely deserves its success :)

  3. Txogitxu premium beef - painstakingly imported from the Basque county, reflecting how many of Mercat's marvels won't be found at any other outlet in KL - YES YES YES! :D

    1. Rebecca: yeah, love how Mercat makes the effort to source its ingredients, from the food to the drinks :)

  4. Crema catalana? Never heard of that, looks like a rectangular creme brulee to me. Wish I could try.

    1. Suituapui: you can find recipes for it online ... it could be worth experimenting with making it at home! :)