Mercato | A high quality Italian brunch in LKF [CLOSED]
Last week, I went to Shanghai for work and one night my colleagues and I had dinner on The Bund. Our restaurant was in the same building as Mercato and Jean Georges Shanghai, which had me wondering why I still hadn't been to Mercato Hong Kong. To celebrate a friendship with one of my best girlfriends who is, sadly, leaving for California, we had a relaxing morning getting facials and then needed a place for brunch. It seemed a perfect time to try it.
We went on Father's Day and hadn't made a reservation, so they could only accommodate us at the bar. While a bit tight for all the dishes we ordered, the chairs were comfortable and allowed us to take in all the action. The space is large and open, slightly industrial but cozy. It's great for families during the day, and I could imagine it being quite a romantic place in the evening. Once we'd put our bags down and had a chance to look around, I realized we were sitting right beside Steph, my Digital Editor at Foodie, and her husband. A very "Hong Kong is small" moment, and a welcome surprise.
First off, I like that Mercato offers a brunch menu that is not a highly-priced all you can eat affair. While I'm not at all opposed to a good feast, sometimes you want quality food in a lovely setting that doesn't cost a fortune. It surprises me that so few of my favourite restaurants offer an a la carte brunch, but Mercato does and I find it quite reasonable.
We started with the kale salad ($128) because the rest of our order was much less healthy. The kale was shredded into thin ribbons, garnished with spring peas, elevated with a mint dressing and topped with a soft boiled egg. I don't think this is tasty enough to have as a main (for those that want a light main), but it was a fresh way to whet our appetites for what was to come.
Part of me thinks I should be able to resist the calls of deep fried food at this age, but calamari is just so delicious. We had no regrets about ordering Mercato's version ($148) because the batter was excellent. It was light and airy, and very flavourful. The squid was also thickly cut and very fresh. All it needed was a squeeze of lemon to curb the grease. A cup of intensely flavoured tomato sauce was served alongside the calamari, but I thought it was a bit too salty.
The homemade sausage and three cheese pizza ($188) was delicious. It wasn't a huge pie, but enough for the two of us to share. We liked the texture of the crust, thicker and bread-like. The quality of the soft boiled egg was wonderful, a deep orange yolk with great flavour that served as our dipping sauce for the crust. A hearty pizza on its own, elevated by delicious pickled chilis.
To end our meal, we opted for Mercato's famous cinnamon buns ($78). These buns are value for money because it comes as six. The last time I had a cinnamon bun was in Canada from Cinnabon, so these were decidedly more refined. While the cream cheese icing was nice and light, I thought the buns were a bit too light on the sin. I would have liked a bit more buttery cinnamon goodness swirled in.
Overall, I really enjoyed Mercato and would definitely like to go back. It's refined comfort food in a convenient location, and the prices are reasonable. I have my eye set on the Sunday set dinner menu of five courses for $248.
8/F, California Tower, 32 D'Aguilar St, Central, 3706 8567