Rarely does a restaurant come along with such grand ambitions as Mercantile Dining & Provision. Even rarer is the restaurant that pulls them off. But under the scrupulous eye of chef-owner Alex Seidel, Mercantile does: effortlessly, elegantly, charismatically. By day, it bustles with the purpose and energy of Union Station, drawing people through its doors for croissants, coffee, perhaps a croque madame to enjoy while sitting in the light that streams through the historic building's windows. By night, the bar fills and guests take their seats with an anticipation that's almost palpable, eager for a meal befitting this repeat James Beard Foundation honoree. Seidel and chef de cuisine/proprietor Matt Vawter clearly relish the opportunities afforded by Mercantile's expansive kitchen, putting out a menu as sweeping as the space. Though it's easy to make a meal of exquisite starters such as cured meats and Fruition Farms cheeses, bone marrow and foie gras with duck-confit blinis, you'll regret it if you do, and this isn't the place for regrets. So give in and order whatever pasta, vegetable and heartier protein strikes your fancy, knowing that the night isn't over until you've tried one of Lonne Cunningham's exuberant desserts.
Readers' choice: Work & Class