charleston: mercantile and mash

Mercantile and Mash in Charleston, South Carolina

Note: I was an invited guest of Mercantile & Mash for one of my visits in preparing this review.  All opinions expressed in this post are solely mine. Thanks, Mercantile & Mash!

The first visit to Mercantile and Mash, The Indigo Road Restaurant Group’s newest venture located at the Cigar Factory on East Bay Street, feels a little bit like arriving into a new foreign country. The sights and sounds are interesting and enticing, but it’s a little confusing to try to figure out the rules on how things work. There are two exterior entrances to Mercantile, a home goods market/takeaway/dine-in restaurant and one separate exterior entrance to Bar Mash, and traffic appears to flow differently from each of the three entrances. For Mercantile, you’re either greeted by a cashier, if you enter from the eastern entrance and not the entrance facing East Bay Street or by a large display table featuring locally-sourced housewares and jarred foods, with a central coffee bar/cafe area just beyond. It might not be readily apparent to the first-time visitor, but Mercantile is an order-at-the-counter-and-browse kind of place. The Mash entrance is decidedly more straightforward. You’re headed into a really great bar space.

GET ALL THE LATEST RECIPES, RESTAURANT REVIEWS & MORE FROM GRITS & CHOPSTICKS BY FOLLOWING ME ON INSTAGRAMFACEBOOKPINTEREST OR TWITTER!

Mercantile and Mash in Charleston, South Carolina

mercantile-and-mash-10

Cutting board at Mercantile and Mash in Charleston, South Carolina

Dry goods at Mercantile and Mash in Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston tote bag at Mercantile and Mash in Charleston, South Carolina

But, unlike most new exotic experiences, navigating Mercantile doesn’t take too long to figure out. Both Mercantile and Bar Mash offer convivial gathering places for people to meet up, hang out and let their inner foodie fly. Mercantile’s atmosphere is rustic and bright, harkening back to the old drugstore days when a lunch counter near the back of the store served lunch and malteds. It helps that Mercantile is also the central handmade pasta production facility for Indaco, Indigo Road’s popular Italian joint. As soon as I heard this news, I was toast. I had to get my hands on some of that pasta.

mercantile-and-mash-3

Luckily, the housemade farfalle, swirled with butternut squash puree and sauteed oyster mushrooms and snowed on with freshly-grated Parmesan, didn’t disappoint. The farfalle was cooked to al dente perfection, with a pleasing chewiness in the center where each farfalle bow met. The salty, earthy flavor of the mushrooms, combined with the nuttiness of the Parmesan was a knockout.

Duck confit salad and beef carpaccio with sweetbreads at Mercantile and Mash in Charleston, South Carolina
As it turns out, the pasta wasn’t the only great dish at Mercantile. All of the dishes I sampled were confident and evolved, from the duck confit salad with thinly sliced beets, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), blue cheese and lightly dressed salad greens, to the beef carpaccio with crispy sweetbreads and dollops of whole grain mustard. The duck confit was nice and rich, but suitably tempered by the tartness in the vinaigrette coating the salad. The well-roasted, tender beets and pumpkin seeds also brought good texture to the dish. The sweetbreads were other-worldly — creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside. When eaten with a slightly translucent slice of carpaccio wrapped around its battered outside, the sweetbreads were heaven. I loved Mercantile’s sophisticated twist on food so much that I returned just two weeks later with my family for brunch, only to discover that their standout pasta dishes aren’t served on their brunch menu. As it turns out, the offerings on the brunch menu were more run-of-the-mill. I enjoyed the housemade corned beef and tots and the viscous yolk of the fried egg that it came with and my kids loved the housemade hot dog they shared, but I wished for more of the unique, interesting dishes I’d had during my first visit at dinnertime.

Crispy rabbit confit and dirty rice at Mercantile and Mash in Charleston, South Carolina

One of the other dishes I tried was the crispy rabbit confit, with dirty rice (cheekily appended with the word y’all at the end of its menu description). The rabbit was battered with a gritty cornmeal crust, which was a nice texture against the tenderness of the confit. The dirty rice was mild but flavorful. I’ll definitely be ordering this dish on my next visit.

Bar Mash at Mercantile and Mash in Charleston, South Carolina

Bar Mash at Mercantile and Mash in Charleston, South Carolina

As for happy hour, it doesn’t get much better than Bar Mash next door. Crafted cocktails and a list of whiskeys a mile long are the name of the game, and the moody interior stands in stark contrast to the brightly-light, bustling atmosphere of Mercantile. For those looking for a spot to enjoy a balmy Charleston evening, there’s also plenty of outdoor seating shared by both venues.

Bar Mash at Mercantile and Mash in Charleston, South Carolina

mercantile-and-mash-8

On the night I visited, I ordered a Crystal Ship, a pear syrup vodka cocktail mixed with rhubarb, honey syrup, lemon, tiki bitters and garnished with a rosemary sprig. It was a nice, refreshing cocktail, yet one that packed a fairly strong punch. Although we sat outside on a relatively cool evening, the cocktail was strong enough to leave me just north of flushed (but granted, I’m a total lightweight who usually checks out for the night at 9:30pm after a glass of red wine).

Bar Mash at Mercantile and Mash in Charleston, South Carolina

Of course, with the warm wooden walls and plush leather barstools inside at Bar Mash, a place where everyone will know your name in short order, it’s hard to imagine a reason to be outside. Everything good is happening inside, anyway.

Mercantile and Mash | 701 East Bay Street | Charleston, SC
GET ALL THE LATEST RECIPES, RESTAURANT REVIEWS & MORE FROM GRITS & CHOPSTICKS BY FOLLOWING ME ON INSTAGRAMFACEBOOKPINTEREST OR TWITTER!

Subscribe and get freshly baked articles. Join the community!

Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.

By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms.

Start the conversation

Let's start a personal, meaningful conversation.

Example: Practical philosopher, therapist and writer.

Link copied to your clipboard
About me

I’m Ann, a mom / wife / lawyer / certified culinary enthusiast. I share recipes, travel guides and home life tips while living overseas. Currently based in São Paulo, Brazil.

Never miss a thing!

Subscribe and get freshly baked articles. Join the community!

Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.

Latest Articles

A Read More

Argentina10.21.2022

A Guide on How to Travel to Patagonia

We recently returned from a 10-day trip to Argentina, and the highlight of our time there was the three days we spent in Patagonia, where […]

C Read More

blog features08.21.2022

Cookbook Club, Sao Paulo Edition: Jubilee

We were fortunate to arrive in Sao Paulo last July, just as the pandemic started to ease in Brazil. We hit the ground running, and […]

W Read More

blog features11.03.2021

We’ve Moved to Sao Paulo!

A year after we arrived in Virginia — we’ve packed everything up yet again and moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil.

A Read More
sticky rack of pork ribs

American10.08.2020

Apricot Glazed Sticky Pork Ribs

Today’s recipe for these sumptuous apricot glazed sticky pork ribs are the ultimate quarantine indulgence. I’ve been making a variation of these ribs for years, […]

Begin typing your search above and press return to search. Press Esc to cancel.