Last month, two colleagues from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) in Beijing came to Chicago to visit so I took them around the city to eat different types of food. For brunch one day, I decided to take them to Mercat a la Planxa for their three-course tapas, which I had been dying to try. To begin, there is a varying array of unlimited pastries. I selected with a blueberry theme in mind (Figure 1). My blueberry crumble had fresh, crispy crumbles on top and a soft, jelly paste underneath; it was the perfect contrast. And the muffin was just as I expected, with every blueberry oozing its juices as I bit into it.
There is also a bloody Mary bar. One of my colleagues decided to have it, and ended up making a very… special bloody Mary (Figure 2). It had celery stalks, celery powder, and a ton of jalapenos. Needless to say, this combination was a bit funny tasting… I would say to stick with a traditional bloody Mary or try out their sangrias (which are spectacular, by the way).
Each course included two tapas dishes, one that’s more Spanish inspired and another that’s more Americanized. The first dish was the bacon wrapped dates (Figure 3). After I saw the glistening on the bacon, I almost skipped the photo taking (blasphemy, right?)! I’m so glad these were on the menu because they are my favorite tapas, and Mercat a la Planxa gave them justice.
The accompanying buttermilk pancakes (Figure 4) were topped with very fresh blackberries and a dollop of butter. But the best part is when I cut into them and discovered a ton more blackberries! Once I poured on the maple syrup, these pancakes are some of the best I’ve ever had in a restaurant.
Vivid green poblano peppers (Figure 5) made their way to our table with a side of a creamy hummus. I’m not a big fan of peppers, but after being toasted, these were a crunchy, savory treat!
The Americanized pairing was the shrimp and grits (Figure 6) topped with a perfectly poached egg. A surprise was in store when we dug into the grits: wild boar! It was perfectly tender and certainly went well with everything else in the dish.
The waiter then brought out a bowl of well-cooked brussel sprouts (Figure 7). They looked a teeny bit overcooked, but the slight crispiness positively added to that mundane brussel sprout flavor.
And finally came the suckling pig (Figure 8). It wasn’t suckling anymore, but it certainly was a succulent one!
- The brunch menu changes every week, but from how yummy it was this time, I think Mercat a la Planxa will not let you down.
- Get the sangria – they have it with red, white and rose wines.
- Go during the holidays if you would like some holiday-inspired drinks!
- Be creative if you get the bloody Mary, but don’t be superdy duper creative…