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Wine and Please: Quick Taste of The Mercantile at Dinner

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Last week we took a glance inside The Mercantile 's opening soiree, which inspired a post-opening visit to check out their wine bar and dinner menu last night.

Seated at the bar for an early Sunday supper, the vibe at Mercantile, located on Sunset just a hop, skip, and jump away from the historic Cross Roads of the World , was relaxed and inviting. Soft lighting, the brick walls, and cozy charm of the blue-and-white French country decor meshed well with the melange of jazzy old standards and contemporary indie music on the stereo, and the high-ceilinged space reverberated with easygoing chatter from guests seated at the many tables and counter.

We were among those perched at the counter, and we took advantage of the savvy of our server when selecting a wine. Mercantile aims to introduce diners to French varietals of wines alongside more expected local offerings, and to demonstrate the differences, our server suggested we try a crisp '05 Pouilly-Fuisse but poured us a taste of a California white to let us experience the other flavors. The wine pricing makes sampling and experimenting easier, because you can purchase by the half-glass, glass, carafe, and bottle; a carafe is less expensive than two glasses' worth but gives you more, making sharing an affordable option.

While the menu is resplendent in small plates of charcuterie ideal for sharing, we opted to just get one item apiece: Their rich, beefy, filling French Onion Soup ($8) which satisfied as a meal in itself, and the delightful and seasonal Endive, Goat Cheese and Persimmon salad ($10) punctuated with the sweet crunch of candied pecans and had sumptuous bites of some of the most spectacular goat cheese we've been served.

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Although our evening provided us with just a taste of what Mercantile offers, it was enough to signal a wish to make many return visits to try not only other dinner menu items, but check out their lunchtime offerings and their marketplace take-out items as well. We're keeping our eyes on the next-door spot, too; District is a companion eatery of sorts and will offer up "seasonal bistro fare and inventive cocktails," we're looking forward to checking out.

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