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Mercury Restaurant Lounge

MercuryUpdate 7/5/11: Mercury is closed.

In a word: In the Madison Solar System, Mercury is small and hot.

The specs: #0379
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Yelp, Dane101; Mercury Deli on Urbanspoon

JM ate the pork chop with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the gyro plate with an ouzo.
The bill was $44, or $22/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave Mercury Restaurant Lounge an A- (see our grading rubric).

Latest Mercury Restaurant Lounge news and reviews

Gyros plateMercury was virtually empty when we arrived at the unfashionably early hour of 6pm on a weeknight. They really deserve to be busier, given the quality of the food. With the exception of an unremarkable dessert, we had a fine time.

Nichole's gyros plate was great. The meat was tender and spicy, the pita pillowy and good (though we couldn't tell if it was baked in-house). The onions and tomatoes were fresh. While the side of potatoes with oregano were lukewarm, they were good and obviously homemade. The salad really stood out with lots of ingredients: a light vinaigrette dressing, cucumbers, tomatoes, capers, soft feta, olives and pepper.

Pork chop

This pork chop is the best in JM's recent memory. It was tender and juicy, and the red wine sauce was great, smoky, and not overly sweet. Though he had a hard time figuring out where to start eating the chop, JM joined the clean plate club with this entree, including the greens - which were not too exotic, but also not too pedestrian.

Chocolate cakeWe were on such a roll that we decided to try dessert, a rare splurge. Unfortunately the chocolate cake a la mode didn't live up to the rest of the meal. The cake was a  commercial-ish bundt that was not particularly great. We encountered an occasional crunchy bit in the vanilla ice cream, hinting that it might not have been frozen very well. The cherry sauce was fine with Nichole but JM's personal aversion to fruit sauces didn't help his enjoyment.

Other stuff to like about Mercury are the "WC Mixte" signs on both loos; the Johnny Cash art; the art and decor in general (Nichole was especially fond of a tough librarian-looking chick shusshing); plus, Mercury seems to be a good neighbor to the Bartell, fetching them at least 2 buckets of ice during the course of our meal.

Us being us, we didn't sample the bartender's skills either (though we were tickled that the cocktails had mythological names - the cosmo is an "Artemis" at Mercury), but we can say that dinner at Mercury is worth a taste.

Comments

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I really like the Mercury, and for several reasons: they've always been very good to the throngs of rowdy theatre types who frequent the place, let my band play there regularly back in the day without charge, and have really good, mostly homemade good. They were kind enough to start offering an extra vegetarian-friendly plate or two when some of us uppity veggie actors started asking for it.

Uh, that would be "food," not "good."

Long day.

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