There really is nothing like a cheeky little pay day lunch on a Friday; and that is exactly what I enjoyed last week. Le Mercury is a cosy French restaurant on Upper Street. The decor is charming and rustic but also has a traditional French fine dining feel to it, white tablecloths and all. The walls are are a lovely almost Tiffany blue and are the perfect backdrop for the dried bouquets that are dotted around the room.
Unlike fine dining however, Le Mercury is fantastically affordable. In fact, the prices are almost unbelievable considering the perfectly executed food they are dishing up. Even the wine doesn’t break the bank, with a few good picks for all budgets and the option of a glass, carafe or bottle.
The menu (mostly) has three prices. Starters (£4.95) Mains (£11.95) and desserts (£3.95). We are there for lunch rather early so the place is empty but for one couple, regardless, the space feels comfortable, not at all cavernous. In fact, there is a lovely ambiance, helped along by the sun streaming through the window creating a distinctive warmth in the room.
For starters I order the Carpaccio de Boeuf – Beef Carpaccio, Capers, Red Pepper Relish, Wild Rocket Salad, Parmesan. It’s a generous plate, the beef is slightly seared on the edges and very thinly cut. I love the acidity of the red pepper relish and the capers which adds a salty kick. My friend orders the Raviolo de la Mer – Crayfish and Lobster Raviolo with Wilted Spinach and Shellfish Sauce. I can’t try it, but it looks rich. My friend looks like the cat that got the cream, literally.
Following is main Filet de Saumon – Seared Scottish Fillet of Salmon, Artichokes, Sprout Broccoli & Sauce Vierge. Honestly, I struggle to choose my main, so many things I would like to try. I am also a little concerned that I might experience food envy; my friend has ordered the steak with pepper sauce (£15.95) which is definitely up there as one of my top contenders.
I need not have worried about food envy. While the steak does look delicious, the sauce doesn’t appear to have any crushed or whole peppercorns which (perhaps it’s just what i’m used to) I feel is an important element to the most delicious of peppery sauces. Furthermore, my salmon is delicious. Perfectly cooked with a crispy skin. It feels fresh and light and exactly what I want. The artichokes level up the dish. It is simple, rustic and brilliant french food. Happily washed down with the crisp Brume di Monte – Italian Pinot Grigio.
I do have one regret, that I don’t order dessert. I consider it, and I’m very tempted , but I am also very full, and I have to get back to work. A lovely meal never really feels complete without a sweet finish. I am bound to be back though, there are so many other dishes on the menu to explore; and next time I’ll be sure to have dessert.
I won’t make that mistake again.
Le Mercury – 140A Upper Street, London, N1 1QY. You can check out their website HERE