• Jenni Lien

[Closed] Mercato | Best a la carte brunch in Hong Kong

Fresh bread. Flavourful eggs. Homemade sauces. Excellent coffee. I think my list of must haves for brunch are pretty simple, but even in a city as jam packed with restaurants as Hong Kong, it can be hard to find a place that does the above excellently. I’ve actually had conversations with a few friends about this. There are loads of places serving up a buffet or semi buffet extravaganza. If you’re craving Japanese, Spanish, or Italian, I’d highly recommend Zuma, La Paloma, and Pirata or Pici. But for an a la carte bread, eggs, and coffee type brunch, I think Mercato has to be one of my top choices (if not my top choice) in town.



Atmosphere

It starts with the atmosphere. The space is sleek and slightly industrial, and open though it never feels too loud. An open kitchen adds to the homey vibe, and the terrace is lovely for the warm but not too warm weather we have at the moment. The service is also attentive and knowledgeable.


Food

My first visit to Mercato a few years back was for brunch, but my friend and I mostly ordered dishes off of their regular menu. Recently, Chef de Cuisine Anthony Burd has revamped the brunch menu to include more breakfast-y dishes in addition to best selling dishes like their pizzas and cinnamon rolls. So my boyfriend and I headed over on a breezy Saturday (crisp enough to still be wearing coats!) for a cozy date on the terrace.


Now I love Mercato’s pizza, but had to resist in favour of their tasty sounding breakfast sandwiches. We tried their Crispy Chicken Sandwich with a fried egg, yuzu pickles and chili pepper aioli ($198) and the Croque Madame with a sunny side up egg, smoked ham, and gruyere cheese ($168).



The Crispy Chicken Sandwich lived up to its name and somehow managed to be super crisp without being oily. To me, this is a good example of a high quality chicken sandwich; one that focuses on top ingredients without overwhelming the senses. So it’s not oversized (though it is sizeable), over sauced, or over salted. Rather, the brioche is perfection (and baked in house), the Japanese egg is super fresh, and the pickles and aioli add flavour while still allowing you to taste the chicken. If you’re a big fan of sauce though, it may be worth asking for some extra aioli on the side.



Being a fan of rich brunch foods, the Croque Madame is a dish I’m still thinking about weeks after eating it. Just look at the layers in this sandwich. Again, this somehow managed to be super rich without overwhelming the palate. We could still taste the brioche, eggs, and smoked ham on their own, and it all tied together with a creamy truffle-infused sauce. They were using the rest of their truffles from the past season, so I’m curious to see what other twists they’ll use for the sauce (an excuse to go back!).



My boyfriend has a big sweet tooth and I love carbs, so we also ordered the Buttermilk Pancakes with bananas and house made nutella ($128). The pancakes themselves were classic and nicely crispy, and the banana was just simply sliced. But of course the nutella was the star component. Usually, I’m not a massive chocolate fan and I like hazelnuts even less. But I found Mercato’s rendition of nutella to be more like a milk chocolate ganache with just a hint of hazelnut. I was eating it by the spoonful, though he found it too light on the hazelnut flavour. To each their own, but if you’re a chocolate or nutella fan I think it’s worth trying this dish.



Also, get the Wood Oven Roasted Asparagus with olive oil and parmesan ($108). While the portion might look a bit small, the stems are juicy and really flavourful.


Verdict

I really don’t think people shout out about Mercato enough. It’s proven to be a reliable spot for me for brunch, lunch or dinner. Whether for a brunch date, cozy dinner, or even a celebration, it’s always serving up high quality dishes at fairly reasonable prices. This is a restaurant that doesn’t skimp on getting great ingredients, and prepares them in a way that allows the natural flavours to shine. And their house baked brioche. It’s worth trying their brunch just to indulge in some buttery, fluffy carbs.


Central, 32 D'Aguilar St, 8/F, California Tower, 3706 8567


*By invitation

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