Rated by locals and loved by visitors, Mercetta offers an eclectic menu of breakfast and lunchtime greatest hits in either their chilled dining room, or al fresco in their delightful rear courtyard.
Location: 115 Main St, Mornington, VIC 3931 Ph: (03) 5975 1714
When it’s a cold wintery day (and definitely not holiday season) and you have to wait outside a restaurant for a table, it’s a good sign.
When you’re queuing with a local who tells you that this place does the best coffee in town and that we really should order lunch – we’re ecstatic.
We decide that our prowling of Main Street, Mornington and menu reading is complete and pop inside in search of a table.
For more of our top places to drink and eat in the area, see our Best Restaurants in Mornington post.
Quite surprising, actually.
Come in off the street and you’re in a decent-sized, bare-walled, dining room with a service counter to one side. This is clearly part of the original building as it has a beautiful pressed-metal ceiling.
Beyond that, there’s another, slimmer area adjoining the kitchen and pass, set with high bench tables and stools. Both rooms have plenty of character and warmth, and the later has a great mural of a young woman on the wall.
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But there’s more.
Mercetta is blessed with not one, but 2 levels of courtyard. You pass through a sliding glass door and you’re out in a covered oasis of wooden seats, fairy lights, plants, canopies and chilled vibes. Come summer, I reckon this is must be a prime spot for a coffee and slice of cake. Or even a Cocktail and a BBQ Chicken Slider (x3 $23). Because in the middle of this appealing garden, there’s a wee kiosk containing a service counter and a bar.
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As it is, on our rather chilly visiting day, the courtyard is packed with families, kids and ladies enjoying a glass of bubbles with their Buttermilk Pancakes ($22).
Happily, we’re in a world of All Day Breakfast and Lunch from 11am. Bliss!
As it’s after 12, we go for the more substantial side of the menu.
If you follow our restaurant reviews, you may have noticed that Eatability has a passion for a Reuben sandwich – be it in sourdough or bagel form. The Mercetta version ($22) is a wedge of Slow Cooked Pork Belly, Shaved Ham, Pickled Cabbage, House Pickles, Swiss Cheese and Russian Mayo between 2 slices of malty, toasted Rye. Plus Chips on the side. It’s an utterly delicious beast of a sanga.
Hot Chips also make an appearance with the Mexican Chicken Burger ($26). It’s always nice to see a kitchen inject a touch of difference into a popular dish and you must have been living under a rock if you haven’t noticed the current craze for all forms of fried chicken. At Mercetta, their succulent chucks of chook get a wee tweak with Mexican spicing, Avocado, Chilli, Cheese, Herbs, Pickles and Slaw.
Lastly, we step away from the bread, and sample the Prawn Laksa ($27). Pleasingly, the Malaysian Curry Soup has a good thump of heat. It’s dense with plump, sweet Prawns, slippery Rice Noodles and a generous flourish of Herbs. Textural interest comes from the addition of Coconut Flakes – an innovation we rate.
Although we dived straight into our midday meal, a couple of dishes on the Breakfast menu caught our attention.
The table next our ours orders the Chai Spice Apple Porridge ($16) and the Breakfast Stack ($25). The former features a rubble of Nutty Granola Clusters and Coconut and smells alluringly of apple pie and Christmas. The latter is a tower of Chorizo, Avocado, Spinach, Poached Eggs and Green Oil balanced precariously on a Potato Rosti, then dressed with Capsicum Salsa. It’s a genuinely attractive plate of food.
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And I feel we must mention the Banoffee French Toast ($23). Strictly for the kids amongst us and those with a very sweet tooth, this sugary treat matches golden eggy bread with Caramelized Bananas, Toffee Sauce and Chocolate Mascarpone.
If you are lucky enough to holiday in Port Douglas, take a look at our recommended dining spots
As promised, the Coffee is top-notch. So much so, that we may have broken our ‘no caffeine after 2pm’ rule and succumbed to an extra cup.
The Tea range is also comprehensive and charmingly comes as individual Teapots ($4.5) or Tea for Two ($6.5).
Juice-wise, you can go Freshly Squeezed or Cold Pressed. And there are, of course, a trio of Smoothies ($11) to work your way through. Our pick is the Bangin’ Banana which is a blend of Banana, Oats, Dates, Almond Milk, Maple Syrup & Cinnamon.
If you remember, we mentioned a bar plonked in the middle of the courtyard. And yes – it serves alcohol. Temptations on offer include a tight selection of Wines, Beer & Cider and a glorious Hail Mary ($17) – a Bloody Mary containing all the usual suspects, plus Candied Bacon.
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Now we don’t often make special mention of the service in our reviews, simply because us Aussie as blessed with some of the finest waiters and bar tenders in the world and good service is a given.
However, our waiter at Mercetta is truly wonderful – fun, knowledgeable, friendly and efficient. Also – and this is a real trump card – he and his colleague are assigned solely to courtyard and are constantly looking around for customers in need to assistance. It’s a practice that more cafes with outdoor areas really should embrace as the garden is clearly a hotspot – even on cooler days.
Talking of amazing waiters, see our review of Hazel Restaurant in Melbourne
Mercetta really is the benchmark for holiday town cafes.
The food is tasty, generous and well-presented and whilst there are plenty of sure-fire winners on the menu, there’s also a touch of interest.
It’s also got a great vibe and – from the way a couple of regulars are welcomed as they walk through the door – clearly doesn’t ignore its steady customers in favour of out-of-towners.
All-in-all, we’re already looking forward to chilling in the courtyard again once the better weather arrives.