Mercer Café Terrace House is one of those places we’re always on the lookout for in Tokyo. Hidden down a back street in Omotesando, it’s close enough to the action to be convenient, but hidden enough to feel like a true find.
When we stopped in on a recent Saturday afternoon, the first thing we noticed was the stunning natural light, thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights. It was such a clear, gorgeous winter day that we almost sat in the outdoor terrace area, but the thought of eating with our mittens on put us off the idea. We’ve definitely filed that spot away for summertime cocktails on a sweltering evening, though.
The waitstaff were undeniably stylish in their all-black ensembles and artistic accessories, but the service was aloof. Not once did anyone smile or say anything more than required, and after bringing our main course, no one refilled our water glasses or asked if we wanted dessert.
The menu at Mercer on weekends is an abbreviated version of their dinner fare, with one daily pasta (¥1,400), one risotto (¥1,500) and several grilled meat options, along with a range of small—and we mean small—appetizers and side dishes. The full bar offers everything from fruit bellinis (¥1,200) to wine by the glass (from ¥750) to non-alcoholic cocktails (¥750), as well as a standard selection of tea and coffee.
We started off with the garbanzo bean pâté (¥700), figuring we’ve never met a hummus we didn’t like. While the accompanying tortilla had been grilled, sliced and artfully arranged, we were a little disappointed by the scant single serving. Next up, we tried the mozzarella and semi-dry tomato caprese (¥900). The tomatoes were sweet and succulent, and their juiciness was a perfect complement to the creamy mozzarella. At that price, though, we were hoping for more than a few mouthfuls each. We fared slightly better with the grilled snapper with vegetables and cream sauce (¥1,400). For the first time, we felt like we had something substantial enough to sink our teeth into; the cream sauce was rich and satisfying, though the fish itself was forgettable.
It was when we got to dessert, though, that we finally figured Mercer Café out. Some menu standouts included the New York Cheesecake with Oreo crust (¥700), chocolate mousse (¥600), and French toast with an assortment of toppings (from ¥1,000). The mousse had a light and airy texture, but was also slightly cold and ice cream-like. Served with almonds, walnuts, marshmallow and wafers, it was like a deconstructed rocky road ice cream cone—a very adult take on a childhood classic.
While savoring the last few bites in the afternoon sunlight, we had an epiphany: Mercer is more about style than substance, and sometimes that’s just what you’re looking for in a café experience. We wouldn’t necessarily return here for a full meal, but we’d easily go back for a teatime treat or a summertime cocktail on the outdoor terrace.