Restaurateur George Abou-Daoud can't seem to get enough dining action with his already hopping Los Angeles-based eateries, the Bowery, Mission Cantina and Delancey. “I love being around food,” says Abou-Daoud, shrugging. Next Monday Abou-Daoud and chef Kris Morningstar (Blue Velvet, A.O.C), will officially unveil their European-style wine bar and gourmet market, Mercantile, adjacent to Abou-Daoud's fine dining bistro, District, which will open in January, with Morningstar also behind the stoves.
In anticipation of tonight's soft opening, glass cases are filled with charcuterie and dozens of cheeses; shelves are stacked with imported dried pastas, wines and olives. Nightly specials will include cassoulet, chicken pot pie, and soups. And Wednesday nights will feature wine and cheese pairings, with sampling of over 50 wines by the half glass, glass and carafe.
Wine director Josh Zisholtz's program will highlight three significant regions of France, showcasing Burgundys, Bordeaux and Rhodes, wines that embody the old and new-worlds. The restaurant's wines range from $18-$66 a bottle, excluding specific dessert wines. Of over 60 wines served at the bar, Zisholtz is most proud of the hard-to-get Porto Kopke Colheita, a dessert wine from the Douro region of northern Portugal, which is matured in oak wooden casks for at least seven years. Despite Mercantile's high quality wines, it's not a pretentious place. “We're boutique quality without the exclusivity,” says Zisholtz.
“The original idea [behind Mercantile] was the notion of standing by the bar in the middle of the day having an espresso and a glass of wine, nibbling on a baguette and cheese in Hollywood,” says Abou-Daoud. In addition to a menu of sandwiches, salads and pastries–including a Morningstar favorite, truffle croissants– there will be plenty of house-made ice cream (blueberry lavender, Vietnamese coffee, peach cobbler). Other sweets include peanut butter and jelly macaroons, butterscotch bars, sweet and savory popovers, and “birthday cake of the day.” Why only celebrate one day a year?
Mercantile: 6600 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 962-8202.