45 Bond St., nr. Lafayette St.; 212-529-8600
Mercat means market in Catalan, the language spoken in the Spanish region that inspired this new restaurant and tapas lounge opening next week in Noho. Owner Jaime Reixach is a native of Catalonia’s capital city, Barcelona, and he’s enlisted two American co-chefs who’ve spent time cooking and eating there themselves (in between stints at Jean Georges, Casa Mono, and Bouley). The 90-seat space is equipped with an open kitchen, a ham-and-cheese station, and a basement tapas lounge, and the wine list is all-Spanish, with a selection of cavas, sherries, and seasonal sangrías. To supplement such familiar territory as tortilla español and patatas bravas, the menu offers regional specialties like fideua negra, or noodles cooked with cuttlefish and its own ink, and Catalan fish stew with haddock, mussels, shrimp, and lobster.
Open the Sesame
198A Orchard St., nr. Houston St.; 212-777-7009
Petom Kochawattana admits to making certain flavor concessions for his tame-palated clientele at Bangkok Kitchen, his Caldwell, New Jersey, Thai restaurant. But at Open the Sesame, the “noodle, rice, and grill” establishment he plans to open on Orchard Street March 1, he vows, “I’m not holding anything back.” Kochawattana, whose own artwork decorates the space, showcases what he considers Southeast Asian street food, from crispy lotus roots with spicy avocado sauce to cilantro-and-garlic pork-ball sandwiches. “I grew up in the kitchen,” says Kochawattana, who was one of eleven kids in his Udon Thani household, and food service seems to run in the family: His sister Diane owns Sa-Woy, Pad Thai, Regional Thai, and the new Sticky Rice.
The Inn LW12
7 Ninth Ave., at Little W. 12th St.; 212-206-0300
Aside from pancakes (at the defunct Royal Canadian Pancake House) and poutine at Pommes Frites in the East Village, Canadian cuisine has yet to make its mark on the New York dining scene. This sad state of affairs should come to an end on March 2, when nightlife impresario Jeffrey Jah and events marketer Lyman Carter honor their joint heritage with the city’s first Canadian- (and British-) inspired gastropub. Located adjacent to 5 Ninth in an 1860s townhouse, the Inn LW12 (for Little West 12th Street) encompasses a brick-walled, wooden-beamed “Tap Room,” and a more formal “Canoe Club” upstairs, outfitted with oxblood-lacquered paneling and a copper bar. Culinary consultant and novice gastropubber Daniel Boulud collaborated with his onetime underling, the Inn LW12 chef Andy Bennett, on dishes like duck-leg soup, pickled herring, and Guinness-braised steak with mashed parsnips. The kitchen will stay open until 4 A.M., good news for meatpacking-district denizens out pubbing—and gastropubbing.
Pio Pio Salon
702 Amsterdam Ave., at 94th St.; 212-665-3000
The Upper West Side has lost one Peruvian restaurant but gained another: Realizing that few can resist the allure of rotisserie chicken, the owners of Sipan have redone their restaurant as the fifth branch of Pio Pio (below), the popular Peruvian chainlet. The menu is more or less the same as the other Pio Pios: A $26 Matador Combo (a whole well-marinated rotisserie chicken, rice and beans, tostones, avocado salad, and a giant pile of fries topped with sliced hot dogs) is enough food to feed a small Peruvian army.