Mercato might be the first place you think of for pasta when you’re in Central, but the new brunch menu available on weekends ups the ante of what Italian eateries around town should have on offer.
The first thing to mention is that there isn’t a buffet table in sight. Before you start gasping and stuttering about how a well-deserved brunch should include some indulgence, just remember that one weekend when you weren’t in the mood to polish off three plates of oysters and just wanted to relax with some friends.
The menu is packed full of brunch items at very wallet-friendly prices. A serving of eggs Benedict starts at $138 and a cheese-and-spinach omelette will only set you back $128. Of course, there’s also a two-hour free-flow package for $198 that includes a choice of Prosecco, house wines, Peroni beer and a small selection of cocktails.
So on a fine Sunday morning, we settled into our hosted brunch, starting off with lobster eggs Benedict ($348). The make-or-break item on this dish is obviously the shellfish, and it was superbly executed. The shelled lobster flesh was tender with a clean bite and timed to perfection. Combined with the silky poached eggs and refreshing Béarnaise sauce, this version of eggs Benny was a great start to our Sunday meal.
For something a bit more indulgent, we opted for the crispy chicken sandwich ($198), and it was one of the best chicken burgers we’ve ever had. A warm brioche bun was drenched in oozing egg yolk and crunchy chicken that was well balanced with a zesty yuzu pickle. We found this medley of flavours extremely appetising.
To end our brunch on a sweet note, we dug into the cinnamon sticky bun ($98). While this item is a bakery staple in many countries around the world, it’s not as easy as going down to your local Tesco bakery aisle to grab a batch of this wonderfully sweet baked good in Hong Kong. Coffee in hand, we waited for the sticky bun with glee. It arrived steaming hot, and the just-that-bit-too-sweet icing made it that much better with the coffee. However, that’s the thing about getting bread at a restaurant and not a bakery – it’s not served straight from the oven. We understand the merit of serving this item hot, but reheating bread just gives it an extra gumminess that happens when the starch tightens up. It wasn’t that obvious with this bun, but it would be noticeable to fresh bread lovers.
We love that there’s somewhere that serves good, old-fashioned comfort food for brunch without turning it into a big do – and in Central nonetheless. Sometimes you might want to gather a group of your friends, indulge in a huge brunch and spend the day tossing back bubbles and cocktails, but at other times you just might want to go somewhere to have a good tête-à-tête with your bestie with some tasty food in a pleasing environment. We find the set-up at Mercato better for the latter, but given the prices and free-flow option, larger groups could make a feast at this place too. The restaurant’s dessert game could be a bit stronger, but the savouries are well worth a visit.
8/F, California Tower, 30–32 D’Aguilar Street, LKF, Central, 3706 8567
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
For more reviews like this, like Foodie on Facebook