"Pretty woman, walkin' down the street, pretty woman the kind I like to meet, pretty woman. I don't believe you. You're not the truth. No one could look as good as you...Mercy!"
If rock 'n roll pioneer Roy Orbison were alive today, he might take great pleasure in knowing that his song, "Oh, Pretty Woman" inspired the name of the Mercy Wine Bar. He might even enjoy playing there if he wanted to perform in a small, relaxed yet upbeat venue. Mercy was one of the first to surf the new wave of wine bars opening across the country, followed by Cru, Dali, and others. In the best tradition of The Grape, many of these new bars offer excellent cuisine as well, plus cheese plates and other nibbles--all the better for pairing and sharing.
My wife and I were already driving around Village on the Parkway, headed for another establishment, which we sadly discovered was closed. No matter, we did a quick reconnaissance, and landed at Mercy. We had enjoyed their cellar and cuisine in the past, so it was high time we reacquainted ourselves with this gem.
Ambiance at Mercy Wine Bar? In a word: Dark. Very dark. So dark that taking photographs was difficult, even in the relatively well-lit areas. In the light, Mercy is said to resemble a Tuscan village with a touch of South Beach thrown in. Regrettably, there was no Orbison memorabilia anywhere, not that we could see anyway. ( I'm still a big fan--I saw him in concert years ago, front row seats and all.) But we resolved to press on, because the interior with its mix of bar and couch seating and pounding techno music, is still quite inviting. We chose one of the couch-y areas and began to look at menu and wine list. Mercy's list runs for several pages, and since it was a last-minute decision to come here, I had not done my usual online homework.
Still, I wanted to make my decision quickly, because at most places if you don't, you won't see your waitress for another 20 minutes. My companion chose a flight of whites and I chose a glass of the Forefront Pinot Noir. She especially liked the Stinger Sauvignon Blanc, with its melon, grapefruit, and green apple notes, and I really enjoyed the cherries and pepper bite of the Forefront.
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So far, so good.
Mercy offers a full range of food options including appetizers (the To Share section of the menu), paninis, cheese, salads, entrees, and desserts. Coupled with the excellent but somewhat pricey wines, you can run up quite a bill here. So, after some consideration, my wife and I decided to share two appetizers, namely the Blackened Ahi Tuna and the Mac and White Truffle Gratin.
Mercy's tuna was quite heavy on the blackened spice, but I really like mine blackened, so it was just right for me: sliced, seared, and served with wasabi sauce and soy ginger. I preferred it to the Gratin, which I felt was a bit heavy on the truffle oil and skimpy on the melted raclette and Swiss cheeses. My wife, however, felt the exact opposite about both dishes (she preferred the Mac, although she did agree it was truffle-heavy). We paired our entrees with another glass of the Stinger for her, and a glass of Pascual Toso Malbec for me, redolent of berries, smoked leather, and coffee. We finished up with a seasonal fruit plate, nice and light with fresh strawberries, melon, cantaloupe, grapes and pineapple. Altogether fresh and agreeable, the service was peripatetic, the staff clad smartly in black T-shirts and pants. Yes, sadly, it's too late for Roy Orbison to book a gig here, but you might still be entertained by the live music the wine bar has on hand each Saturday night. Mercy.
Mercy Wine Bar
5100 Belt Line Road, #544