Business Travelers: Do you recommend Mercato for
Usually I write about meals eaten at restaurant bars to give you feel for the overall experience including the food, placement of the bar, how the bar blends into the overall restaurant scene, the friendliness of the other bar patrons, the quality of the service and personality of the staff. We at BarTaste think this can be very useful if you are a local looking for a good meal while sitting at a bar or a traveler unfamiliar with the area looking for a good place, maybe even alone, to sit at the bar and eat, especially relevant to the business traveler.
Sometimes we stray off topic a bit. Eating at bars and writing about the experience will naturally exclude a number of new and favorite restaurants because they have no bar. This is especially true with BYOBs, no liquor often means no bar. Some have kitchen bars where you can sit at a counter in front of the kitchen and watch all the action, we will review those as well.
Finally the point, whew! How much to tip at a BYOB? You bring your liquor, probably wine but it certainly could be something else. The server opens it and keeps it cool if necessary and pours throughout the meal. Seems to me that there is no difference in the service whether or not you bought the bottle in the restaurant or bought it there. The cost of the bottle is not on the check. I’m always surprised when I get the check thinking something is wrong and it is too low then quickly realizing no booze in the total. So what do you do? How do you figure out a tip?
Sunday evening April 22, 2012 about 8:15 PM a friend and I went to Mercato, one of my favorite BYOBs. It is a terrific Italian place. We brought wine and ordered the Mussels and Clams, Short Rib Ragu and Parmesan Crusted Veal Cutlets to share. All was absolutely delicious but the Short Rib Ragu was the star. The meat and the gnocchi were just wonderful. We topped this all off with a great desert, the Bitterseet Molten Chocolate Cake. Nice, fun place with great service. The restaurant is tightly packed but that makes for part of the fun. No reservations but we got right in probably because of the rainy cold night kept many people at home.
The check came in at about $71. I normally start my tip at 20% going up or down from there depending on how the service is. Certainly had we ordered wine with dinner the check would have been higher so I always take a higher number as a starting point for determining the tip, a starting point as if a moderately priced bottle of wine had been included. Our tip came to about 30% of the actually check and probably about 22% had wine been included. Getting good service in a restaurant is a pleasure and I like to say thanks. Leaving a larger tip in a BYOB, where you are getting the same service for your bottle, just makes sense to me. Take care of your server and thank them for a job well done including keeping that wine cool and your glass full.
1216 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Philadelphia Weekly Mercato Review ”You’re Quite the Dish: Octopus at Mercato”