Scallops on the half shell, pale pink scampi, sternly trussed mud crabs and fat white oysters, all glistening on a bed of ice. Shapely bottles of enticing ingredients - anchovy essence, white truffle salt, satay sauce. Rows of pastel macarons and rainbow slices. A cold room full of every imaginable style of booze. Fresh produce ranging from sweet and sunny pineapple to dew-covered betel and shiso leaves. Such is but a small sliver of the delights which await at Mercado, Brisbane's newest luxury food hall, situated in the expanding King Street precinct just down from the Brisbane Showgrounds.
Taste tests are an important part of the Mercado experience. Author image.
My companion and I visited during Mercado's opening weekend in November 2018. Promoters bill this food hall as a one-stop shop where Brisbane gourmands can purchase seafood, meats, cheeses, bread, pastries, chocolate, fruits, vegetables, and grocery items under the one roof. But if filling your basket sounds like too much footwork, you can always take a seat at the bar, order from one of the in-store iPads, and let floor staff do the hard yards.
Mercado aims to offer food experiences as much as products. This retailer is big on taste tests. Sampling bowls of jamon and prosciutto adorn the deli counter; a uniformed staff member invites us to select from a bowl of juicy watermelon cubes. It's also a place for browsing and coming up with fresh ideas. For example, if you're entertaining to impress, you'll be able to source some high-end items here. Think electric blue scampi caviar priced at $89.99 for a small jar. Too steep? You could always compromise with sturgeon caviar at $39.99 a jar.
Mercado is located within walking distance of many restaurants and cafes, including the delightful Banoi Vietnamese Restaurant. But don't overlook the in-house dining options either. There's a casual space designed for devouring sashimi, chilled seafood platters, a la carte meals from the ocean, Sicilian style pizzas, and more. (Be warned, it can get a little raucous here.) Then there's the deluxe dine-in Duck Room where dishes are designed to be shared. Think roasted duck, smoked duck nigiri and other dishes originating from land and sea.
Mercado is situated in up and coming King Street. Author image.
Mercado, it must be said, is still finding its feet. The interior isn't fully occupied and staff are yet to find that sweet spot between attentive and over-eager. But if you've got a yen for scampi caviar, there's no better place to be.