One expects a lot from a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, and Mercer Kitchen pretty much failed on nearly all counts. The service was quite good, but other than that . . .
We had a lunch reservation on a Friday at 12:15. Our table was ready upon our arrival, and we descended into the basement -- uh, lower level -- of the restaurant. The interior *is* beautiful, with its brickwork and gothic arches; reminiscent of being in the basement of an old French cathedral or the catacombs of Paris, but with better mood lighting. It was here I discovered what New Yorkers mean by those "Hollow Sidewalk" signs, as workers rolling heavy carts passed over our heads, and woman's heels clicked on the opaque glass bricks above us. Having lunch while the sounds of a thundering herd of buffalo roar overhead every few minutes is slightly disconcerting, to say the least.
Lynn and I both started with a shaved fennel salad, served with arugula, parmesan, and mushroom which was actually quite good, and then moved on to our mains. We shouldn't have.
Our friend ordered the lamb sandwich, which was waaaayyyyyy overcooked, a bit tough, and rather bland. Lynn had the opposite problem -- this is *not* to say we were surprised that her carpaccio of black sea bass was raw -- no, we knew that -- but rather that its accompaniment of lime, coriander and mint so overwhelmed the fish that all you could taste was the lime. Indeed the poor fish was swimming in lime juice. It was as if they were trying to make ceviche, but -- uh, no. As for my crab cake with chili oil, jalepeño and lime "broth," it was so intensely hot and spicy that one couldn't taste the crab . . . and I *like* heat.
So, if we were to go back here after our wanderings in SoHo, it would probably be just for the bar.
99 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012