Mercado. noun: a market (from old Portuguese).
From Barcelona’s Mercado de La Boqueria to Mexico City’s Mercado Coyoacan the market is the lifeblood of the city. It’s where people shop, eat and gossip. In cities where people live to eat, the Mercado is the centre of the universe. Now Brisbane has its very own version, not sprawling and noisy instead sophisticated and polished. 1500 square metres of gourmet delights with a luxury take on day-to-day shopping.
The new kid on the block is guaranteed to blow your mind.
Mercado is Brisbane’s first real food hall. A marketplace with everything from seafood to whisky all under one roof. Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide all have magnificent DJ’s food halls, but gastronomes in the River City traipse from one side of town to the other to get the finest jamon, fresh pasta and divine pastries.
Mercado – the marketplace
Founder Tony Nguyen says his inspiration started with Galeries LaFayette and the other magnificent food halls of Europe. Artisanal bread, succulent seafood and delectable cheeses are ready to take home along with expert wine, spirits and craft beer selections. Or you can take in the full experience with a Mercado concierge – food specialists trained to the highest level to help with your shop from meat selection to wine pairing. You can even order on an iPad and sip on a glass of something bubbly while your friendly concierge does the leg-work.
Food is king on King Street.
To bring the freshest (and best priced) produce and protein, Mercado deals directly with graziers, farmers, fishermen and producers – no middle-man. Working with ‘limited catch’ trawlers direct means there are only 24 to 48 hours from catch to plate. Beef is grass or grain-fed or dry-aged and there’s a purpose-built Wagyu cabinet. Executive Chef Miki Damjanovic believes Mercado sells “the best Australian Wagyu available in Australia”.
Executive Chef Miki Damjanovic
Mercado also has a resident Japanese ‘Sushi Master’ who ferments his own soy sauce. His signature sushi? Smoked duck with foie gras, yuzu syrup and summer truffle pickled in yuzu and soy.
From the refrigerated cabinets, there is the freshest burrata and bocconcini, 24 and 12 month-aged San Daniele, guanciale and Testun Occelli al Barolo – an ancient Italian mountain hard cheese made from sheep and goats’ milk. Packed in “grape must” from Barolo, the cheese has a whisper of wine flavour.
The variety of dry goods from pasta and vinegars to Italian delicacies is unbeatable.
With both dedicated wine and spirit/craft beer rooms you might find it hard to choose. These rooms will also be home to tastings, wine-maker and brewer events. Premium fruit and vegetables are also direct from the farm. The roast cabinet features lamb, beef, pork, duck, beef cheek cooked and ready to go. Chef suggests you “Pick up some wine and freshly baked bread and dinner is done”.
Award-winning pastry chef Adrien Marcinowski the man in charge of the colourful vitrine of sweetness. The macaron is without equal – crisp, chewy and creamy all at once. Try the tingling passionfruit it is sheer mastery and I can begin to describe how good it really was. Petit fours, tarts, slices and cakes are little works of art to satisfy all the senses.
Mercado – the restaurants
Now we come to the Duck Room – where duck takes centre stage. The sleek fine dining space is elegant and intimate with unclothed tables and Thonet chairs. Hong Kong, Taiwanese and Japanese style dishes are served Cantonese style as shared plates. Local, organic Byron Bay ducks are dried for 7 days, marinated, glazed and roasted to crackling crispiness.
The main restaurant is bistro-style with the freshest of the market on the menu.
Yum Cha includes a selection of Cheung Fun (steamed rice noodle rolls). The fish menu will change daily according to the catch of the day. NSW lobster, abalone, and Coral Trout from FNQ are currently sitting over ice. There’s also pizza prepared Sicilian style with semolina flour for easier digestion. The Margarita with freshly shaved summer truffle sounds mouthwatering.