First Look: South Bund food market Mercado

Spanish-style marketplace and cafe serving up steaks and lunch sets

You might have heard word of meat, cheese and seafood monger Mercado, which has opened up even farther down the Huangpu River than the oft-forgotten Cool Docks. Alright, we know – the location sucks. But what’s on offer doesn’t, and a visit is totally worth the somewhat inconvenient journey.

So what’s the story? Mercado’s team was the first to start importing foreign oysters to Shanghai, and is also the beef supply for top-notch Raw Eatery and Wood Grill in Jingan. As such, it comes as no surprise that they specialise in Chilean beef and a full-on range of fresh oysters and shellfish, as well as an ample supply of European cheeses. On the countertop, you’ll also find imported pantry items like olive oils, sauces and jams, tinned goods and some beverages, plus jars of house-brined olives and such.

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Anyone who's been to one of Spain’s lovely food markets will have memories conjured up here. The building is adorned with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doorways, making for a bright and welcoming space. The service area and meat cases stand in the centre, and you can do a 360-walk around the counter
for a full view of everything on offer. A few tables for dining in are tucked in at one end.

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The little marketplace may seem like it’s meant only for picking up ingredients to be prepared later, but they’ll cook you up a fresh cut of meat on the spot. We ask for a steak recommendation, to which they suggest the moderately priced Chilean Wagyu rump cap (58-65RMB per 100g). It arrives at the table grilled to a perfect medium and dressed with cloves of roasted garlic, a few sprouts and a savoury spoonful of garlic-rosemary pesto.

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Grilled wagyu rump cap

We also go for one of the 68RMB lunch sets (a choice of the day’s sandwich offerings plus a drink), opting for a smoked salmon croissant sandwich plus a small side salad, which comes at an extra charge of 20RMB. The salmon is soft and buttery, as is the croissant, and we leave full, happy, and impressed with the quality and simplicity of Mercado’s fare.

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Smoked salmon croissant

You won’t regret the ride to what may feel like the middle of nowhere for Mercado’s selections, whether you’re picking or sitting down for lunch. We’ll be back to check out their weekend brunch, which boasts plates of seared foie gras, raw oysters, wagyu picanha, Icelandic halibut and more (598RMB for two), with optional wine pairings from 218RMB. If lunch is anything to go by, it won’t disappoint.
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