In 2014 the Denver Union Station was renovated and is currently the main railway station and central transportation hub for Denver, Colorado. Along with the transportation renovations the Union Station also added The Crawford Hotel, a coffee shop, bars and several restaurants which includes, Mercantile Dining & Provision. We heard that the Denver Union Station was a “must see” and it definitely did not disappoint us – we loved everything about it and hope to use the train one day. While we were observing the Union Station we peeked inside every restaurants all which were intriguing, but none stood out to us like Mercantile.
Mercantile Dining & Provision is owned and operated by Chef Alex Seidel. Chef Alex is a well known, award winning chef. A handful of his awards includes: Food & Wine Magazine Best New Chef in 2010, Denver Magazine’s Best Chef of the Year in 2009, and a semi-finalist several times for James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef Southwest”. Fruition was Chef Alex’s first restaurant adventure and was a huge success in Denver which encouraged him to create Fruition Farms Dairy where he produces award winning ricotta cheese amongst other products. He is a strong believer in sustainability, farm to table and having guests understand the importance of the evolution of how their entree started at a farm and finished preparing and cooking at Mercantile to enjoy. Mercantile is both a market with fresh cheese, charcuterie, preserved goods, spices, chocolate bars and more in addition to a full service restaurant and bar. It is a beautiful combination of American artisanship with a hint of traditional European cuisine and culture. As guests walk in Mercantile from within Union Station they walk through a hallway of jarred spices, dried fruit and nuts. Everything made in house like the products just mentioned are used in the restaurant as well as being available for guests to buy in the market. Once through the hallway guests will see an open kitchen, an intimate dining area, patio dining and a medium spaced oval-like area in the middle of the entire restaurant that includes the fresh cheese, charcuterie, pastry display and a full service coffee and cocktail bar.
Along with the farm to table restaurant, fresh produce and market, Mercantile Dining & Provision has an incredible pastry department led by Chef Lonne Cunningham. Chef Lonne is quickly gaining local popularity with the help of awards like Best Pastry Chef from Denver’s local newspaper, Westword. Chef Lonne prepares fresh danish, croissants, muffins, scones and more in the market’s pastry display case which is available all morning and afternoon. Plated desserts are only available for dinner service starting at five o’clock.
A few items in the pastry display case at the time include: almond croissants, pan au raisin, seasonal danish, caramel monkey bread, blueberry muffin, banana muffin, pain au chocolat, butter croissant, ham and cheese croissant, and bacon pecan sticky bun. The dessert menu offered during dinner service includes some traditional desserts with a little twist as well as desserts with a savory influence such as cocoa beet cake. If only their was enough time in the day and more than one stomach so I could be able to take a bite of everything…
Pain au Raisin: 10/10
This Pain au Raisin had a beautiful golden brown delicious color. A crispy and crunchy outside with a soft and flaky inside. A lot of buttery layers filled with golden yellow raisins and a luscious pastry cream. Hints of zest and tang came from the orange marmalade brushed on the danish and a burst of citrus from the candied orange peel. Dark raisins are arranged along the swirl of the danish from above for color and keeping true to the traditional Pain au Raisin. Balancing the sweet and citrus flavors are the toasted pistachios garnished on top of the Pain au Raisin adding a nice contrasting crunchy texture and nutty, earthy flavor. Overall this danish is not small by any means, but for it’s size it is PACKED with beautiful laminated layers and great flavor profiles and textures. Based on this one danish, it is no surprise why Chef Lonne Cunningham is voted as Denver’s best pastry chef!