May 9, 2021


Free For All Food

Overview: Italian meets American barbecue as Say Mercy! garners a great deal deserved awareness

Say Mercy! restaurant, in Vancouver, on Jan. 14, 2021.

DARRYL DYCK/The World and Mail

Say Mercy!

Place: 4298 Fraser St., Vancouver

Cellphone: 604-423-3624

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Web page:

Price ranges: Shared plates: small, $10 to $17 medium, $19 to $23 huge, $26 to $51 Jesus Just take the Wheel, $55 a man or woman.

Cuisine: Italian fulfills American barbecue


Hrs: Wednesday to Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Further information and facts: Reservations advisable. Stringent COVID-19 protection compliance. Out of doors patio and meals truck open from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. subject matter to weather conditions.

Glazed Pork Hock at Say Mercy!

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

In 2020, the awards went dim. Or at the very least they did for this column. There had been no ideal-of lists or year-conclusion wraps. To do so would have felt not just inappropriate, but almost cruel – a feeble attempt to fake the hospitality planet was carrying on as typical, when clearly it was not.

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That mentioned, if I were to nominate a finest new restaurant for 2020, Say Mercy! would be the top contender. Arms down. No doubt.

What can make the achievement far more amazing, and pertinent, is that I had really a great deal made up my thoughts even ahead of I sat down in the eating home for the to start with time final week.

With Italian fulfills American barbecue as its unholy concept, Say Mercy! commenced garnering curious interest as quickly as it opened its doors a 12 months in the past.

Confident, the two distant (both equally broadly regional) cuisines share a unfastened affinity for homespun hospitality, abundance around the table and earning the most from humble substances.

You say grits, I say polenta.

But how significantly can barbecue sauce be stretched as a substitute for tomato paste?

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Clams Disco at Say Mercy!

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

To pull it off, this dastardly fusion would involve a deft hand in the kitchen and a passionate team capable of scaling seemingly insurmountable odds.

On a promising observe, the Collective Hospitality Group experienced presently carried out the latter, having turned The Mackenzie Place, found across from the tent-city encampment at Oppenheimer Park, into a cozy desired destination for industry-to-fork fare with out at any time feeling like a gentrified interloper.

And if anyone could pluck harmony from discordance, executive chef Sean Reeve – who was inspired to make cooking his occupation after starting in the dish pit at Montana’s BBQ & Bar in Mississauga, and later on spent nine months researching at the prestigious Alma culinary arts academy in Colorno, Italy – absolutely has the chops.

The Fraserhood eatery was only 8 months previous and hardly hitting its stride when the pandemic strike and eating places were requested shut. In the midst of all that confusion, Say Mercy! promptly emerged from the din with a basic Band-Support option that quickly turned a lifeline and rallying cry: Personnel meals.

Born from an rapid will need to feed workforce who experienced to be laid off, the healthful, family members welcoming meals packed into 500-millilitre containers for straightforward reheating at residence, included a $2 donation to the Better Vancouver Food stuff Bank and quickly became a regional phenomenon. About a dozen other restaurants joined the result in.

Involving the two restaurants, the Collective Hospitality Team produced up close to 40 per cent of its revenues, enabling it to stay afloat, maintain a several staff members on the payroll right before governing administration supports arrived on-line and increase much more than $4,000 for charity.

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Dorado Crudo at Say Mercy!

DARRYL DYCK/The World and Mail

When the Momentary Expedited Patio Plan rolled out in the summertime, Say Mercy! was one of the to start with to hit the pavement – on a shut, tree-shaded part of East 27th abutting a public plaza (for which the restaurant took stewardship). With pastel picnic tables, twinkly fairy lights, an out of doors wine bar and whole menu services from the cafe, Say Mercy!’s B-Facet was a fully conceived idea that injected genuine vitality into the neighbourhood.

In early July, I went with a girlfriend on a Saturday afternoon that slipped into early night. We drank geeky all-natural wines, we chatted up a welcoming stranger and his lovable puppy dog and slurped “clams disco” on the 50 %-shell, a entertaining rendition of American-Italian clams casino topped with corn sabayon and a palate-popping tarragon pistou.

It was the most pleasurable dining expertise in a summertime that was or else harrowing. For a instant, I just about forgot about the total crisis in our midst, no matter whether dining places would survive, if I could bear to get out of bed to try out to compose again future 7 days.

These transcendent moments are what cafe critics live for. B-Facet supplied all that and more, wrapped up with a turquoise surfboard on a humble East Van aspect road.

BBQ Bolognese at Say Mercy!

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

Come winter, B-Side gave me a very similar lift on a unusual sunny afternoon just before Xmas. I experienced just still left a retail store in tears, not able to muster up a phony feeling of holiday break cheer. Then I sat down at a person of B-Side’s picnic tables, which had been lifted on wooden decking to retain feet out of the muck, and downed a glass of thick, home made eggnog.

The road was loaded with households assembling Diy cedar wreaths and popcorn garlands, bought from a new pink-spangled food items truck parked in the middle of the highway. By happenstance, I sat down subsequent to two acquaintances who were decorating cookies with runny frosting in plastic pouches. And for a several transient times, as we bedazzled gingerbread snowmen with purple and eco-friendly sprinkles, the gloom subsided.

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Final week, I ultimately went for dinner at Say Mercy!

The cozy room, wrapped in pale-environmentally friendly wainscoting, dimly lit by artwork deco mild pendants, felt warm and welcoming despite the large spaces involving lonesome tables of two.

The support was attentive and confident, as while they’d been performing this permanently.

The wine assortment was a small significantly less geeky, but however all biodynamic or pure and pleasantly approachable.

The foodstuff truck and out of doors picnic spot are viewed outdoors Say Mercy! restaurant, in Vancouver, on Jan. 14, 2021.

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

For meal, we let “Jesus Get the Wheel” – a five-program tasting menu that is meant to be shared, also out there for takeout and superb price at $55 a particular person.

We begun with a refreshing dorado crudo, a well-liked gulf coast fish also known as mahi-mahi, evenly dressed with Serrano-infused olive oil and a smoky carrot vinaigrette.

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Buttermilk sweetbreads have been presented as the chef’s ode to fried rooster, though he describes them as McNuggets, which is almost certainly extra apt because the meat was rather dense. I’m not sure if cold cigarette smoking does these tender glands any favour, but the sweet-and-sour quince agrodolce was an impressed seasonal dip on the facet.

BBQ Bolognese surpassed all expectations with its meaty smoked pork butt ragu plumped up with pancetta hoisted more than a tall mound of handmade bucatini cooked to the soft (comforting) aspect of al dente. It was sweet and smoky and completely addictive, served with buttery Parker Residence rolls and cakey focaccia sliced slender like white bread.

Glazed pork hock was the pièce de résistance, shorn of its dimply pores and skin but bit by bit smoked more than hickory and apple wooden for eight hrs so the thick layer of outer extra fat rendered and crystallized into the tender, crispy texture of roasted rooster pores and skin.

Slipping clean off the bone, the significant hunk of spicy meat was served in excess of “dirty rice,” a hearty mix of farro, mortadella and fried slivers of pig ear.

Gobbling up the leftovers the subsequent day, fork poised around sink, the Southern American satisfies Italian marriage produced ideal perception.

Say Mercy! is food stuff for the soul developed by people who have been capable to pivot with grace below strain and sow harmony out of hardship.

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