Not long ago it was announced that Mike Rakun, the chef at Marin in the Le Meridien, had bought the restaurant from owner Craig Bentdahl (who still owns Mill Valley Kitchen) and would be re-concepting it as Mercy, a more accessible and cozy restaurant.
They are hard at work transforming the upstairs space with the help of Shea Design, adding some warmth and wood—giving it a more Minnesota vibe—with the idea of opening April 1. No fooling.
Rakun's partner in the venture is Scott Gardiner, who moved up here from Miami to launch their first restaurant together. They were colleagues years ago in the Truluck's restaurant organization, a well-run seafood house chain in the south, and there are shades of that experience in the coming Mercy. They plan to feature a large oyster bar in the main room, and fresh seafood is treated as a common protein on many of their plates. I got a look at some things they're working on, just to give you a little tease:
Ever had fish ribs? Rakun is dead set on making them a thing. There are three delicate bones in those meaty Buffalo'd bits, so after you pull off half a bite, it looks like a little Wolverine claw.
With the aim of being more approachable, this is their Supper Club salad with honest-to-goodness Catalina dressing.
If you remember, Marin had a wood-burning pizza oven. Rakun doesn't want to do pizzas in it anymore, but he does want to make you a brick of buttery garlic monkey bread in that oven. Mercy, indeed.
Fried rice seems to be having a moment again, and this version comes with a fat hunk of crab leg and poached egg. "People feel awkward ordering a whole crab leg, and it ends up being a lot of work—this brings the crab leg down to a manageable level and adds some playfulness," Rakun said.
Another way to bring crab to the people is through this King Crab grilled cheese, which plays the sweetness of the crab against appenzeller cheese on house-made brioche.
Of all the things in the preview, I have to say that this hot pastrami sandwich was the kicker. Soft and tender, that pastrami recalled the former Louie's Habit in Wayzata. If they can keep it like this, that's a big win.
For the ladies that liked noshing on hummus before a show, they've kept that for you. But I dare you to deny that garlic loaf.
Gardiner and Rakun have a lot more ideas for menu items at Mercy, including beer can chicken with dirty rice and hot sauce coming out of the pizza oven, a black seabass fish fry, and an old school burger with special sauce. You can check out the new digs and plates starting April 1, if all goes according to plan!