Baco Mercat: Get Ready to Trip Balls
Oh Baco, my Baco. You move me. Every molecule, every cell of my being vibrates at the very thought of you.
I first met you 18 months ago when my girlfriend introduced us on the night we celebrated the completion of my first novel, Aversion.
She showed me your seductive tapas menu on line and I was immediately intrigued.
I am a devout tapas follower for the mere fact that they are smaller portions with lower prices, which creates more options and yes more opportunity for Flavorgasms.
The odds are just more in your favor that you are going to find one thing you love, or maybe two or three or four, instead of putting all your eggs in a single entree basket.
But not to worry, if one appetizer and one entree is your type of thing, there are “big plate” options as well and they are quite good.
3lb whole roasted chicken with black truffle, saffron-honey and lemon as well as a 32 oz. pork porterhouse sprinkled with a manic dust of espelette, pine nut, sage and pomegranate.
I’m getting carnivorny right now just thinking about ’em.
Now Baco Mercat is not traditional tapas, it’s fusion tapas; a blend of western and eastern influences all over the world. It’s an ever changing menu that is inventive, inspiring and inconceivably delicious.
The options are seemingly limitless as every item on the menu deserves your strict attention and consideration.
When the balls of your eyes shoot out of your skull and scramble along the menu sheet like two hermit crabs, don’t be alarmed.
Everything is going to be okay.
This is not a bad trip, my dear junky. It’s actually going to be the best one you have ever had.
I’ll guide you.
The first thing, dear reader, that you must order is a baco and not just any baco. The “El Pesco.”
This sumptuous and endorphin inducing dish is the foundation, the spine and nervous system of their menu and it will point your psychedelic high in the right direction.
A baco is simply a sandwich, but the experience of eating it is shockingly complex. There is the soft, fluffy texture of the naan-like flatbread. The crunch from the purple cabbage, the richness of the spicy cardamom-chili sauce and herbed crema, and the hearty seafood flavor of the fried butterflied jumbo shrimp. Add the avocado spread and pickled onion and you’ll be riding your unicorn on the most glorious rainbow ever towards Pleasure Town.
There are other bacos, plenty of them… “The Original” (pork and beef carnitas with salbitxada) and “The Toron” (oxtail hash and cheddar tater with horseradish-yogurt sauce). They are all amazing and worth wrapping your mouth around.
The genius of the chef and owner Josef Centeno (Baco Mercat, Bar Ama and Orsa & Winston) does not end with the bacos, it only begins.
His inspired vegetable dishes are not only stupid flavorful but ingeniously creative.
The sugar snap and pear salad with burrata, grapefruit, walnut and dill is an amazing summer vegetable salad.
His “ceasar” brussel sprouts with anchovy, pecorino and garlic have the most etiquette-minded of diners lifting their bowls to their foaming mouths.
Then there is my absolute favorite, the caramelized cauliflower with roasted pine nuts, mint, garlic and lebni (a Greek yogurt/sour cream delight).
These are more desserts to me than vegetable dishes and that is the home run here. That is his genius and that is why I will eat his magic mushrooms and tongue his tabs of acid any day of the week.
He gives great high, that Josef.
p.s. For your viewing pleasure, a video of my very first “El Pesco” baco.