Upon entering the grand hall of Denver Union Station, where a lively crowd hums from business to pleasure on a typical Friday night, the rustic simplicity of Mercantile Dining & Provision lures hungry visitors to slow down. A smiling and unruffled chef-owner Alex Seidel requests a moment before the rush files in to lug a double-wide cooler into the kitchen from his parked car to supply farm-fresh produce, dairy, and meat direct from Fruition Farms, his very own Larkspur homestead.
The space is confident and unbroken, despite its multiple forms and functions – deli meets market meets restaurant. Friday evening starts with business associates from neighboring LoDo office buildings and couples recapping their weeks around the circular bar and display cases. A secret to Seidel's second success story, he explains, is spacing out the reservation book, allowing diners to linger, averaging around 200 heads per weekend night. Much like Fruition, Mercantile focuses its meals and snacks on seasonal, local and foraged ingredients that pack the menu with a sophisticated wholesomeness. The most popular dish on the menu, the Spanish octopus ala plancha, is served with fingerling potato bravas and saffron tomato broth. Sourced from just off the northwest corner of Spain, Seidel says Mercantile goes through roughly 300 pounds of octopus per week to meet hungry demand.