I’m a little embarrassed that it took me so long to step foot inside Mercer Tavern, given I walk past it every day on my way home from work, but better late than never, right? Mack and I met up for dinner there on Friday night, and I was finally able to satisfy my curiosity.
Mercer Tavern opened up in July this year, anchoring the north side of a 104 Street strip that now includes two wine bars, three pubs and two restaurants. It’s become a popular watering hole in a short period of time, but the opinion on their food has been mixed. I wanted to judge this for myself, though I will say that Mack has lowered my expectations after telling me about two of his own mediocre experiences with products from the kitchen.
After work on Friday, Mercer was hopping, with quite a number of large parties (likely colleagues celebrating the holiday season). With tons of seating nooks and the rather dim lighting, the Tavern felt like the kind of place where you could be anonymous. The space, not surprisingly, celebrates the heritage brick and hardwood of the warehouse, and as is fashionable at present, features fixtures of Edison bulbs. My favourite element of the room involves the bank of garage door windows, which in warmer seasons are raised. My only quibble was with the television screens, which I felt weren’t necessary, and cheapened the place somewhat (Mercer doesn’t have the feel or desire to be a sports bar).
I liked the dual nature of the cocktail list, highlighting both vintage and modern drinks (like Edison bulbs, seems to be de rigeur in Edmonton right now). The Uptown Fizz ($10) was delicious, a heightened take on a gin and tonic with the addition of rosemary cinnamon simple syrup and lemon juice. Mack also appreciated that local beers were on special on the prominent Friday menu, with Alley Kat and Yellowhead draft pints on for $4.25.
Let the weekend begin!
The food menu, on the other hand, wasn’t as creative or unique enough for me to consider Mercer Tavern a gastropub, but I was impressed to see a section of the menu dedicated to vegan entrees. I ordered the fish sandwich ($15.50), which arrived with a heaping serving of crispy hot French fries. The fish itself was tasty enough, breaded with panko, and the brioche bun was nicely toasted, but the base of plain iceberg lettuce did remind me of a certain fast food chain’s Filet O’ Fish. Condiment wise, the sandwich was dressed with a tomato relish and a lemon remoulade – the heat level in one or the other overpowered the fish.
Mack’s halibut and chips ($20) turned out to be the best meal he’d had at Mercer – perhaps the kitchen’s consistency is dependent upon the menu item chosen? The fish was light and crispy, and the fries hot and fresh. He did wonder a bit as to why the dish was served on a board – it made the coleslaw especially a bit awkward to eat.
Halibut and chips
Service, especially given how busy it was that night, was prompt. Our food was delivered in a very timely fashion, and we were never left waiting for our order to be taken, or our bill to be served. Overall, I thought it was a great place to kick off the weekend, and I would definitely consider coming back for drinks or a bite to eat.
10363 104 Street
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