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Let's Do Lunch: Mercantile

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So often, lunch is the unsung hero of the dining out world. Dinner is when we go out to relax, to celebrate, to convene; breakfast is a necessary evil or a weekend indulgence. And sure, we eat lunch--we brown bag, we meet friends, we "grab something," or we take a lunch meeting. But there are some great lunches to be had in this town, and we want to celebrate the midday meal. So, let's do lunch, shall we?

It wasn't long after Mercantile, Hollywood's wine bar and French marketplace-style restaurant, opened up late last year that we fell hard for its high brick walls, smart pours of well-priced wines, and thoughtful dishes. Dinnertime there is a time for the pleasant humming din of patrons sharing a bottle of wine, maybe tucking into hearty comfort fare like French Onion Soup and Chicken Pot Pie. During the bright light of day, however, Mercantile holds up a great spot to have a satisfying lunch.

Call it serendipity, but both myself and LAist's Lifestyle Editor Julie Wolfson found ourselves at Mercantile on two different recent days for lunch, and we both came home happy (and with a set of beautiful photos to ogle).

For my visit, lunch was about a classic item: The sandwich. Despite the decision having to come to that indecisive eeny-meeny moment when multiple choices stand out as must-haves, I went with my gut and got the Reuben, which pairs Corned Beef with Gruyere, special house sauce, and sauerkraut.

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Not so much on the lighter side of lunch, this warm, gooey, thick sandwich was packed with briny, thick slices of meat mingling with the sauce, cheese, and sauerkraut. On the side: A robust potato salad that was a pleasant balance of creamy and tangy.

My dining companion opted for the Pork Belly Sandwich, one of the more fusion-inspired items on the menu. Pairing slow cooked pork with cabbage, mushrooms, cilantro, shredded carrots and jalapeños, this is more on the French Indochina side of things--a nod to the bahn mi. Happily accommodating the diner's request for tempered down spices, the crusty roll filled with the savory pork was a hit, as was the simple side salad of beautifully dressed greens.

Taking advantage of their accessible breakdown of wines, wherein they further segment the reds and whites based on basic flavor profiles, we shared an affordable table wine from France with our sandwich lunches.

Another day, another LAister, another midday meal at Mercantile. Says Julie of her lunch:

Listed on a wood framed blackboard, the soup du jour was Mushroom & Cheese. Served in a classic french soup crock, the pureed soup had a light creamy texture with a distinct taste of fresh mushrooms. We also ordered the Smoked Trout Tartine. For this dish, two thin toasted baguette slices are piled high with a smoked trout salad that is made with horseradish aoili and chives, then topped with pickled red onions and golden beets. It is savory and delicious.

After lunch we checked out the shelves of gourmet goodies and bought two macarons for the road: peanut butter & jelly and chocolate & cherry.

And this is precisely why Julie & I get along so well, since those very same macarons went home with me, too, and were the perfect light, sweet, crunchy-melty companions to a late-afternoon cup of tea, making the memory of a lovely lunch at Mercantile stay with me just a little while longer.LAist Lifestyle Editor Julie Wolfson contributed to this post.