To Market, To Mercatto

February 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Cheese and charcuterie platters have been attracting me like bees to honey lately. I’ve been dying to go to a restaurant that serves this kind of combination, and so when a friend of mine informed me of a mutual friend’s visit to our fair (adopted) city, I heard opportunity knocking. I was given carte blanche for the choice of restaurant, and away I went, in search of the ideal, non-Asian (my visiting friend isn’t a fan), veggie-friendly (my other friend is a vegetarian) restaurant that had a cheese platter on the menu (I gotta look out for number one too right?). Given a particular area of town, the choice is usually easy. However, I was given the St Lawrence Market area. Beautifully charming, older part in East Toronto, busy but not obnoxiously loud, yet undoubtedly more pricey than the west.

I have a penchant for cardinal points. For some reason, south and west have always appealed to me, and I’ve harboured biases for those parts of most towns, regardless of the town or how correct my bias is. Since moving to Toronto, I am forced to concede that the eastern part of the city holds just as much charm as the west. Especially the St Lawrence Market.

After an exhaustive search of restaurants in the St Lawrence Market, just as I thought I’d have to look out for all but number one, I found a place that met all our needs and was not exorbitantly priced: Mercatto. Ignoring some of the reviews on Yelp and the like, I made reservations. We got there late, but had no problem getting seated. Wait staff was really courteous, lacking the snob factor that can be found a little too easily in a city of this size.

First order of business was the cheese platter. We had the choice of 3 from a list of roughly 10 different cheeses, most of which we’d never heard of. We decided to ask our waiter if he’d recommend anything, and instead of going through individual options, he asked what kind of cheese experience we’re looking for. You know you’re in the right place when you are asked what kind of space you’d like your cheese to transport you to. We settled on an eclectic, unique experience: one cow’s milk (Taleggio), one sheep’s milk (Manchego), and one goat’s milk (Pave du Barry). One mild and two strong cheeses, each with a unique note that I can’t really specify. I’m of the “I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like” school, so I’m not sure if that makes my taste discerning (read: I’m pretty sure it doesn’t). Oh so yummy! Cheese platters aren’t ever really big, and though my eyes want way more at first, I’m quite grateful by the end of the experience. Especially with strong cheeses making an appearance.

We ordered a bottle of wine, recommended by a Sommelier based on our cheese platter, and oh did that Sommelier hit the mark. We wanted a red, medium bodied, fruity yet ever so slightly dry wine, and that’s exactly what we got. Oh. So. Tasty! Best of all, the bottle was enough for each one of us to walk away with a fun buzz.

Wine and cheese aside, how was the food? Perfectly cooked, perfectly portioned, perfectly yummy. I can’t fathom why anyone would not enjoy their experience at Mercatto. Nice decor, knowledgeable and courteous service, excellent flavors, great price, what more do people want?! Trying something new be damned, I’d go back several times!

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