65 Grand Street between Kent Avenue and Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
In the interest of full disclosure, my dinner companions are friends with the owner of Mercat Negre; I haven’t met him however. Ian and Laurel had been to Mercat Negre a couple of times and were overwhelmingly enthusiastic. The Catalan-inspired restaurant is the younger brother of tapas bar Mercat in Manhattan which I haven’t been to either. Anyway, I couldn’t wait to try Negre that evening. Firstly, Mercat Negre is huge and appears to be an old warehouse. The ceiling is at least two stories high, and the front doors were opened, letting the brisk air waft in. Interpol’s Antics was playing on the stereo system though later the music switched to more of an African bent.
Our waitress was slightly green (only on the job two or so days, she revealed) but eager to please and seemed genuinely to want us to have a great experience. Service was attentive, with the busboy, other model-tall waitress, and manager all making frequent stops at our space; no cleaned plate spent much time on the table. The restaurant wasn’t that crowded though it was pretty late for dinner. In honor of it being St. George’s Day, ladies received red roses though gents did not receive books.
I didn’t take pictures because I neglected to bring my flash camera (fail), and it was dark in Mercat Negre, plus there were too many dishes to shoot. So you will have to use your wonderful imaginations to visualize the small plates. Note that the menu changes all the times, and you might find completely different dishes featured instead.
- Tempura rose petals (off the menu)–fried awesome. These dainty delights melted on the tongue. Who knew you could deep fry flowers?
- Bomba–Breaded Chicken & Pork Meatballs with Brava Sauce. The sauce looked like ketchup but packed a kick. The bomba was more like a croquette; we were picturing spaghetti-style meatballs.
- Bunyols–Cod Fritters with Romesco Sauce. Not bad, fried fried fish. Fried seems to be the word of the day?
- Empanada sampler–I sampled the chicken, shrimp, and pork ones. The shrimp one strongly recalled New England clam chowder. Not a bad thing by any means. I was sorry I missed out on the blue cheese one. The chicken one was creamy and hot. Pork was almost like Thanksgiving turkey.
- Duck salad–pulled duck meat on top of greens, nice. Detected a hint of salt on the duck.
- Steamed clams–small bivalves steamed in olive oil with crushed pepper. Simple and a crowd-pleaser. I was relieved there wasn’t too much pepper.
- Octopus–cooked and presented with watermelon and garbanzo puree. Pairing octopus with watermelon is a bold move; the watermelon looked like raw tuna at first. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with the eight-legged sea creature.
- Short ribs–I didn’t eat much of this by accident and ended up only tasting a tiny portion.
- Arros d’anec–Bomba Rice with Duck Orange and Pineapple. A quick Google search reveals that bomba is a type of Spanish rice used for making paella, noted for expanding in width, not length, when cooked. I could have told you that. The grains of rice were definitely tubby. This paella comes out in a frying pan the size of an XL pizza. Ian and Dave were thorough in scraping all the rice off the pan, for the crunchier grains.
Pa amb xocolata–Toasted Bread topped with Olive Oil, Chocolate and Salt. These resembled egg rolls but were more stellar. I was expecting a flat piece of bread instead of a roll. Salt+chocolate works so well, I’m always amazed. I need to try making chocolate covered popcorn.
Xurros amb xocolata–Homemade churros served with chocolate. The churros were delicate capital D shapes. The chocolate was a pool of deep dark intensity. There was too much to coat all the churros, and therefore Ian procured a container for taking it home. Thou shall not waste liquid chocolate.
Chocolate truffles–eight tiny cubes of truffle goodness. Ian also let me sample his lemon frappe which was whipped up and strongly lemony; I am rather fond of the citrus.
Let’s not neglect the drinks. I’m not going into them because I forgot all the components, but I had the Grand Street Grog which was rather grand, living up to its name. Rum and other good things. Oh wait, I found them: dark rum, muscatel (Spanish muscat wine), pineapple, citrus. Everyone else was content with his/her beverage.
Bathrooms decorated with Calvin and Hobbes and Spanish cartoon pages, cool. Cash only, boo. There’s a rooftop deck opening up in the future which is rather exciting for the upcoming summer months.