The new venture from ex-Nomad head chef Nathan Sasi and the team behind China Doll, has opened at 4 Angel Place in Sydney’s CBD.
Mercado, which takes its name from the Spanish word for market, will serve up a mix of charcuterie, cheese, and rotisserie – all to be made in-house.
“We want to make as much as possible in-house, we make our own charcuterie, our own cheese, we mill our own grains and make our own vinegars,” Sasi told Hospitality.
There’s also a custom-made rotisserie, which the team at Mercado uses to cook whole animals, from pig, lamb and chicken, to ducks and fish, as well as a wood-fired oven for baking bread and roasting vegetables.
The Moorish-influenced Spanish style menu will change seasonally, with current offerings including share dishes like truffle mortadella and pickled guindillas peppers; wagyu cecina, wood fired beets and queso garrotxa; and roasted octopus, kipfler potato and oregano picada.
From the rotisserie and wood oven there’s spit-roasted whole cooked suckling pig and lamb; wood-fired blue snapper with spiced eggplants and pomegranate; and wood oven braised tripe, espelette and migas. There’s also a menu of accompaniments that includes wood-fired carrots with almond dukkah and tea soaked currants.
Sasi aims to showcase locally grown produce from small farms and the menu is inspired by Middle Eastern, Spanish and Moroccan flavours, brought to life by ‘old-school’ cooking techniques.
“I don’t have anyone dedicated to making cheese or salami, I’m teaching everyone a bit of everything. We’re really big on trying to revive these skills. The more people that learn them, the more people are going to practice them and then maybe go on to use them in their own restaurants. We want to pass on the knowledge,” said Sasi.
The drinks list also shows the influence of Moorish Spain, while making space for Australian wines.
“We’ve got some really great cocktails and have been trying to get those Spanish and Middle Eastern flavours into the drinks. The wine list is a blend of European and Australian with a bit of a focus on minimal intervention wines,” said Sasi.
The 160-seat Mercado evolved from Sasi’s original idea to open a small, Spanish-style bar.
“The location, the fit-out, the team, and the food we’re making; it’s come together amazingly. I couldn’t have asked for more,” said Sasi, who just weeks ago also launched an ice cream shop in Kings Cross, Good Times Artisan Ice Cream, together with his wife, Sali Sasi.
Mercado is open Monday to Friday for lunch from 12pm–3pm, with dinner service from 5.30pm–10pm Monday to Thursday, 5.30pm–11pm on Fridays and Saturdays.