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“Ibiza was totally banal,” notes the table behind you. “Cheers, girls!” toast the young ladies to your left, carefully clinking vintage coupes in hopes of capturing the perfect Boomerang. “This is actually my first time here,” confesses the woman across the aisle to her server. It’s Ruth Reichl. Of course it is.
Welcome to the fabulous world of La Mercerie, a tidy all-day French restaurant and (be warned, as this is a thing now) immersive retail experience. An outgrowth of a husband-and-wife interior-design firm, the restaurant is located in the happy couple’s Roman and Williams Guild, a greed-inducing furniture and design store in Soho. Here’s the deal: everything on your table is for sale (there’s a little menu with pictures and prices attached to the wine list). That petal-shaped plate beneath your lovely, anchovy-laced niÇoise salad? It’s yours (for $58). The flowers perfuming the lush, light-drenched room? Sure. The shop’s near the door. The table itself? It can be at your doorstep before brunch is over.
The entire place is a #blessed post waiting to happen, and for the fashionable set streaming in for coffee and pastries, lunch meetings or languid dinners, that’s reason enough to make an appearance. But thanks to acclaimed French chef Marie-Aude Rose, the food at La Mercerie is also a draw: not only uniformly Insta-worthy but pretty tasty, too. Like the silky smoked salmon with a warm, fluffy blini, crusty bread with salt-flecked buckwheat butter and impossibly creamy taramasalata (cod-roe dip), which, ironically, all arrived at our table without any share plates on which to put them. Or the perfectly oozing baked egg, which we were left to navigate with a fork. (It’s undeniably boss that you could leave with a life-affirming set of Japanese ceramic serveware, but sometimes all you need is a spoon.)
This is not to say that MIA silverware is a capital crime or that service here isn’t mindful and prompt, but for a brick-and-mortar antidote to the impersonal nature of online shopping, La Mercerie doesn’t strike us as one of those hospitality-obsessed restaurants that makes you all warm and fuzzy inside. The cozy vibes here come in edible form: soul-soothing boeuf bourguignon atop thin, tube-shaped noodles comfortingly reminiscent of Kraft macaroni (before you add the cheese pouch); a cracklingly crisp ham, egg and cheese crêpe; a luscious slice of chocolate charlotte russe.
Plus, if you can leave La Mercerie with some baller Swedish napkins (four for $88) and 300 likes, isn’t that what truly matters? Of course it is.
BY: DANIEL MEYER