Dine like Don Draper.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Is Mad Men a cautionary tale? I mainly found design inspiration.
So excuse me while I flip a chair upside down in the corner of the dining room at The Mercury, not-so-discreetly trying to find the name of the manufacturer in hopes of ordering a few of my own. Because to my Mid-Century Modern design-loving eyes, every detail in this place is fantastic. There are at least four different styles of chairs, all as comfortable as they are stylish. (Yes, I tested them all.) From the sleek chair and table legs to the frosted chandeliers, the twee cocktail glasses to the color palette’s bright pops of teal, the shimmery sheer draperies to the grandma’s-den-inspired knick-knack-filled bookcase surrounding the open view into the kitchen, stepping inside The Mercury is like entering a time warp back to the 1960s—all while taking a bunch of Southern hipsters along for the ride.
Brought to life by Brooks Cloud, Julian Goglia and Mike Blydenstein—the team behind The Pinewood in Decatur and Proof Old Fashioned Cocktail Syrups—The Mercury is billed as being “inspired by the culture of the 1960s” and “the relaxed glamour of Mid-Century American culture” while promising “well-crafted American cocktails and cuisine.”
In true Mad Men fashion, The Mercury is cocktail focused. Goglia, Atlanta’s Bartender of the Year, designed the bar menu around classic cocktails. His house-made ingredients and Proof syrups add a distinctive touch. Drinks are available To-Go for those who prefer to walk around and sip rather than sit at a table or the bar.
Executive Chef Mike Blydenstein’s menu features a raw bar, chops and steaks, and classic American entrées showcasing seasonal produce and responsibly-sourced proteins. Options abound so you can order as much or as little as your budget and stomach allow.
A quick glance at the dinner menu’s prices may seem like it’s aimed at executives with the muscle of an expense account to flex—and odds are you’ll see at least one table of corporate diners, though, unfortunately, they may not look like Don Draper or Roger Sterling. (There is, however, a curvy redhead staffer milling about the dining room; is she a Joan Holloway-inspired hiring/casting choice or pure coincidence?) Spending your boss’ money? Might I suggest a sea tower for $131. Not trying to impress a client? Upon closer inspection, deals can be found. The grilled Atlantic swordfish at $28 arrives with two sides (potatoes and heirloom veggies—a $17 savings compared to ordering these sides a la carte as you might alongside a steak). Less than famished folks could make a meal of crab boillets ($15), crudo ($15) or another appetizer, perhaps adding a side. Steaks are certified “prime” by Revere Meat Co.—and if the prime rib (starting at $29) is any indication, worth the splurge. Desserts like cheesecake are generous portions, perfect for sharing.
Tradition may have inspired these dishes, but clean flavors convey a contemporary Southern sensibility. This truth is underscored by the repurposed retro cigarette dispenser near the restaurant’s entrance: For $5, buy some art.
The Mercury redefines Mid-Century modern in a very tasty way.
@ Ponce City Market – 2nd floor of the Central Food Hall
675 Ponce de Leon Avenue NE
Atlanta, GA 30308
Odds of Encountering Children: Possible but generally low, especially on worknights. We saw no youngsters the night we dined. In general, Ponce City Market draws more working adults than families…which is one thing we like about it.
Ponce City Market…
This was our first visit to the much-hyped and talked-about addition to Atlanta. Ponce City Market is a historic mixed-use community hub focused on artisanal food, fashion, residential lofts and tech office that connects directly to Atlanta’s popular BeltLine trails. Walking around the new Ponce City Market—which you should definitely do before and/or after your meal at The Mercury—is like strolling through a who’s who among Atlanta’s top restaurateurs. It’s also Atlanta’s attempt to bring home the one thing that most other Southern cities have but somehow it seemed to lack: an urban-cool relevant revitalization.
– Photos by Justen Clay
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.