By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Yet this is only a minor faux pas in this suburban world of liquid heavy metal.
The cream artichoke soup was a visually bland dirty ocher puddle pierced with slivers of cucumber and pepper. The soup held a cluster of asparagus stalks. The flavors revealed a provocative interplay between gusts of smokiness and the bitterness of the artichoke blossom, leaving a tannic grip on the finish.
While The Mercury's menu could be considered a subtle advancement of Ward's evolutionary cookbook, the décor is a giant step in maturity. The Mercury is loosely related to Citizen in its circa late-'60s, early-'70s version of decorative modernity. But while Citizen is cheeky, The Mercury is smooth and contemplative. The seats resemble plastic cafeteria butt ware (fake wood grain). Yet they're comfortable. The walls (white with vertical stretches of glass blocks on one end) and tables seem constructed and selected for how they fiddle with light. Center tables are a pure white substance (perhaps Corian), while the tables in the booths are a white composite imbued with mint tints. The floor is a mix of hardwood and carpet. White grilled speakers are perched up high, with every other one a black box with exposed speaker cones, absent the white grills. An intentional design cue?
11909 Preston Road
Dallas, TX 75230
Region: North Dallas
Yellow tomato salad: $8
Shrimp strudel: $12
House salad: $6
Artichoke soup: $6
Fried calamari: $9
Pan-roasted chicken breast: $20
Pepper-crusted tuna mignon: $26
Pan-seared salmon: $24
Raspberry Napoleon: $8
Grand Marnier soufflé: $8
Pan-seared salmon is a thick square of pink imbedded in a carpet of cannelloni beans. The meat flaked into firm moist sections with a good strong racy flavor and a crispy delicate outer layer.
As the entrée deliveries mounted, it became evident that the kitchen has a jones for vertical architecture, at least as far as the seafood is concerned. The salmon made like a fishy high-rise, as did the pepper-crusted tuna mignon in a chanterelle braise. The thick pad of meat was clean with rich marine flavors wrapped in a healthy pepper crust.
The cheapest entrée here is arguably the best. Chicken is a dull meat, one without many intrinsic flavors. It functions more as a flavor sponge sucking up the elements it is cooked with, a textural medium with which to transport those flavors. This is why The Mercury's pan-roasted chicken breast is so brilliant. It forces together herbs, generous dashes of salt, picholine olives and Moroccan lemons and delivers them on crisp golden brown chicken breasts. This was perhaps the best chicken composition I can remember having. You could stupefy throngs of people with this on the rubber-chicken circuit.
This touch carries over to the desserts, making the soufflés (Grand Marnier and raspberry) perfect, light puffs of silken egg. Raspberry Napoleon was another high-rise with three decks of delicate circular wafers perched on pillars of juicy berries sandwiching drools of crème anglaise in between.
If this is the shape of mall food courts to come, let them all be filled with heavy metal.