Chef Jose Garces, you stole my heart!

ImageFor those who are zealous when it comes to food, you may be familiar with Chef Jose Garces.  He defeated grill master Bobby Flay in Iron Chef a few years back and has since rose to stardom in his quiet fashion.  I've frequented a number of tapas restaurants and joints--primarily throughout Chicago and the Northshore area--but Garces is the only one who brilliantly accentuates the beauty of Spanish tapas and cuisine (at least, so far, such seems to be the verdict for me).  The setas al horno and squid ink paella with lobster and all sorts of other seafood swooned over by both my family and me.  I've already visited twice, but the food at Mercat a la Planxa never fails to impress me.  I leave each time with a type of fullness from merry eating.  Normally, I have to force myself to increase my appetite when at restaurants, but I don't need to do so at Mercat.  If anything, I am ravenously awaiting my next prey (how vulgar of me). Now, I believe that food brings people together, but my family and I were too busy experiencing the ecstasy from our marriage with the beautiful flavors.  You could hear the multitude of "ahs" and "mmms" as we all drowned in the symphony.  The perfectly seasoned lobster and excellently cooked rice gave the right contrast of chewy and soft, while the cilantro added the herbal kick and tomatoes quelled the richness with the acidity.  For the last punch, the spices performed their magic as they concealed the strong scent of the seafood enough to highlight the stars of the dish.

I could rave for at least an hour about the food at Mercat, but my words cannot and do not serve justice to our meal, so if you're in Chi-town, please do yourself a favor and splurge on some GREAT tapas!  From the ambience to decor to food to service, Mercat is a lovely place for both a date and dinner for a large group.  The dining experience will be a memorable one!

Overall: 4 stars out of 5 In terms of Spanish food and tapas: 4.5/5 stars