Saturday, December 12, 2009

A time to reflect

As the new year approaches, it is generally a good time for me to reflect on life in general and the path I have travelled up to this point.

The year 2010 will mark my 30th year in the restaurant and bar business. I started as a bartender when I was in my early 20's (you do the math) but I did take a couple of years off from the business to regain my sanity.

During that time, I have had some remarkable experiences, met some incredible people, some celebrities (well known and not so well known) as well as, worked side by side with some outstanding people and unique individuals.

I tended bar through the rock era, the disco period, and the techno period. Managed restaurants through casual dining, fine dining and ultimately "Wining and Dining."

Nearly every New Year's eve for the past 30 odd years has found me at work while my family and friends celebrated the New Year's festivities without me. Often I received a phone call or more recently, "a text message", New Year's wish while I was feverishly serving a guest.

As we bring year 2009 to a close, it dawned on me that it was 10 years ago that we rang in a new millennium amidst (the unrealized) panic and fears of computer failures or electrical system malfunctions.

The 1999-2000 new year celebration was the only period that I did not have to work at the midnight hour. As luck would have it, I had worked the daytime shift so I stayed home to watch the New Year festivities traverse the globe via satellite TV news coverage.

As in past, Mercy Restaurant and Wine Bar will be accepting New Year's Eve dining reservations. We will offer a three course dining selection priced at $59.95 per person that will allow you to select your choices of appetizer or salad, entree and dessert.

I mentioned earlier that I have worked with some incredible people before. None of my past experiences can top the talented, passionate, cast of individuals that are at Mercy right now to: greet you, serve you, suggest to you, cook for you and share their experiences with you.

I love what I do, as do our people. To all of you, from all of us at Mercy, have a great, safe, and prosperous New Year !

Mike Castagne
Operations Manager

Monday, November 30, 2009

These are unprecedented times we live in

This will be my last blog for 2009. Seems I am just getting use to writing 09 and have to get ready for 2010! Everyone agrees this year has just screamed past us at lightning speed. And what a year this has been. Not one for the faint of heart to be sure. These are unprecedented times we live in. No one has been untouched by the current economic climate. While some businesses have been hit harder than others I feel very fortunate that Mercy is weathering the storm. Your loyalty over the last 7 years demonstrates the viability of Mercy, even in these very tough times. It was my goal 7+ years ago to create a local place where people who enjoy wine or are looking to learn more and can go over and over again and have a variety of different experiences. I also wanted to demystify the entire aura around wine and make it a comfortable experience for everyone, no matter what their knowledge level.

There is a silver lining in these times, believe it or not! While the competition for the limited dining and entertainment dollar increases, those establishments that come out the other end of this storm intact, have to deliver greater value and have better service. Everyone betters from this. The guest has a more satisfying experience and gets greater value for their dollar and the establishments employees get the opportunity to step up and grow and do a better job.

You continue to honor us with your patronage and that is what spurs us on to continue to work hard to deliver great service and great value. I can honestly say that it gives me just as much pleasure to watch a guest discover and new wine and fall in love with it as it did the first year we opened. The Art of Wine is journey and requires day-to-day vigilance to maintaining the quality of the wines we serve and then delivering, daily, on the experience the guest has with that wine.

This year has been one of navigating through rough waters while staying true to our mission. Your continue patronage tells us we are doing the right things. I’d like to close this year out by saying “Thank You”. Thank you for believing in us and continuing to support us. I remain optimistic about 2010 and the prospects for improvement for the upcoming year.

From all of us at Mercy, we wish you a very happy holiday and a New Year full of health and renewed prosperity.

Glen Agritelley

Monday, November 23, 2009

The holidays are a good time for food and wine!

By way of an introduction, my name is Craig Brazeal, Bar Manager at Mercy. I have been with Mercy since July 2008 and rapidly worked my way up to Bar Manager in May of 2009. I have been in the service industry for 15 years and my focus has always been the world of spirits and mixology; from creating featured cocktails to extensive drink menus and even teaching mixology at a culinary school. Some say I’m kind of a spirits super freak! I took the job at Mercy for many reasons but most importantly, I needed know more about wine, and learn I have ! Everyday I find out something new and exciting about the world of wine.

One of the things that we take great pride in at Mercy is our ability to cater to our guests wants and needs in regards to food and wine pairing. Usually our guests pick the wine and we will recommend food to go with wine or vise versa. It is one of the many things we do that really add to the Mercy experience. As Thanksgiving is this week, I would like to offer some wine suggestions to serve with your Thanksgiving feast.

The big question - which wine or wines go with the variety of tastes, textures and aromas that uniquely present themselves on Thanksgiving Day ? Should you choose one wine to carry you through appetizers to desserts – a tough request, but certainly doable. Or should you choose several wines to accent different components of the meal and cater to a variety of guests’ palates? The choice is entirely up to you, but here are some options to get you started.

If you do not want to buy several different wines for each course, one fail safe wine for any holiday feast is Champagne or sparkling wine. These wines bring both elegance and great food pairing versatility from the appetizers to the turkey and dressing all the way down to the pecan pie. A good dry sparkling will not only cleanse the palate for you next bite but also add a little texture with your meal.

Remember the art of food and wine pairing is largely a matter of personal preference; however some safe bets for Thanksgiving wines are Syrah/Shiraz, Zinfandels and my personal favorite Thanksgiving wine, Pinot Noir. Be careful with these wines, if they have a too heavy of a body they can overpower your food. The great thing about these wines is they add a little extra spice to your turkey. Light-bodied, fruit forward with a little bit of spice and earthy undertones are a great selection.

Beaujolais is another great versatile wine that compliments every dish on the dinner table. Light-bodied with low tannins and bright fruit, Beaujolais can bring out the flavor of your entire repertoire of food.

For you white wine lovers there is also a great verity of wines you can choose for your feast. Over the last couple of years I have experimented with white wine with holiday meals and found that Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio go really well with herbs mainly garlic and onions. The bright citrus based flavors of these wines really compliment any spicy dish.

If you really want to shake things up a bit on the table poor a Viognier or an Alberino. They are not as popular but can maintain great food pairing power. Because of the lack of knowledge these wines have with the common wine drinkers allow you guest to try these wines without food first otherwise the strong floral undertones will shock anybodies palate if you do not expect it especially after spicy food. (I found this out the hard way!)

I’m getting stuffed just writing this but there is still more to go!

Dessert time! Alright your friends and family have come over early to watch the football games, as the door opens the first thing you smell is that pumpkin pie and pecan pie baking in the oven. Your mouth starts to water and you know you have to wait several more hours before you get a chance to take that first bite of Thanksgiving heaven. Now its time! I did this for the first time last year and it really works. Tawny Port not only brought out but added great sweetness and nuttiness to both pies.

Sorry Mercy, but I have to put my two cents in! To me there is nothing better to end the night than a great brandy or aged scotch neat and a hand rolled cigar laughing with your friends and family.

I wish to all to of our guest and our entire staff and there families safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Craig Brazeal
Bar Manager

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What to give ?

For several years now, I have purchased Gift Certificates in lieu of an actual item for those on my holiday gift list. I don't look at it as an impersonal gesture since I do vary the type of gift certificate that I select for everyone.

Gift certificates or gift cards are especially great for teenagers because they like so many different things such as the newest electronic gadgets, video games, so it is logical to give them a Gift Certificate to a national Superstore.

Another benefit is that you don't have to go to great lengths figuring out what merchandise to buy and whether the recipient will like it, whether it will fit or need to be returned or exchanged. My closet still has an assortment of clothing gifts that I need to donate to a local charity. Items given to me that were the wrong size or just not suited for me.

To keep it from being too impersonal, I always do include a hand written note to the recipient telling them why I selected this specific certificate for them. Most of the businesses that I have selected offer a nice gift card holder with ample space to allow a personalized note along with the certificate.

Receiving a dining gift certificate is always an excellent choice especially when the recipient enjoys eating out and sampling great wines in a warm and romantic environment.

Did I mention that Mercy has an ample selection of Gift Certificates ready for you holiday shopping ?

Mike Castagne
Operations Manager

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A big hit (and its not even on the wine list) !

2008 Paul Hobbs Winery El Felino Malbec Mendoza

Best known for his namesake wines from California, Paul Hobbs started his professional career at Mondavi as head Enologist of the Opus One team in 1981. He later moved to Simi and during that time he also became interested in Chile and Argentina. He got involved with Nicolas Catena and was eventually invited to lead Catena’s attempt to create a great Argentine Chardonnay.
He is now becoming one of the world’s reknowned flying winemakers — working as a consultant in Chile, Hungary and Argentina — in addition to making wines in Northern California and at Vina Cobos in Argentina.

His Vina Cobos wines have been getting more attention with each release — and looks like he has really produced some great wines in 2006 — if press and my first bottle of 06 Feline are any indication…this Malbec is pretty opulent, lush and velvety — and weighs in at 14.7% alcohol, but it isn’t overwhelming. It might walk up to the line of New World, but never totally crosses it — all pieces work quite well together, fruit, tannings, structure, oak all very nicely integrated. Nice structure with beautiful fruit — loads of cherry with raspberry, a little rhubarb, notes of charcoal — soft tannins with a lingering finish.

88 points Wine Spectator: "Solid, with medium-weight black licorice, crushed plum and spice notes that stay nicely focused on the finish.

"91% Malbec, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Syrah. This powerful, firmly structured malbec is black/fuchsia in color and perfumed with wild raspberry and bittersweet cocoa. The palate unfolds in velvety layers of plum, currant .

Felino Malbec can be purshast at Mercy for $14 a glass or $40 by the bottle

Vincent Havard
General Manager and Operating Partner

Monday, November 2, 2009

Some Things To Think About

Just when we were getting use to the idea that summer was over, bam, the holiday season is here. I don’t know about you but this year has just screamed by. I was just getting use to writing 2008 and we seem to be jumping right to 2010.

With the holiday season here it is time to think about holiday parties. Whether you have a group of 6 people or 60+ Mercy is a perfect venue to entertain your friends, co-workers or clients.

Something to think about that may be very different from what you have done in the past is a wine tasting education class or a food and wine pairing class. This is a fun evening of learning and tasting and giving your friends and co-workers a different experience. In an environment where everyone is watching their spending this can be a great way to do something completely different from what you may have done in the past for a holiday party and keep your costs down AND at the same time give your friends a gift of enhancing their dining experiences for years to come. We are very proud to have several companies returning for the 4th and 5th year in a row to treat their employees to a Mercy experience.

We are also approaching our 7th anniversary in February and as has been the practice of Mercy since we first opened we have stayed with the tradition of changing the menu twice a year. We just launched our latest and I think, best menu so far. I am very proud of the selections and choices we have made available to our guests. If it has been a while since you have visited us, I’d encourage you to stop by and sample some of the new menu items. You will not be disappointed.

Speaking of anniversaries! Our sister company, Sebastian’s Closet is celebrating its 30th birthday!! Now that is longevity!! Stop by and say hi to Tim and crew and wish them a happy 30th!

Now, while we are on sister companies: TBarM Racquet Club is pleased to be bringing Pete Sampras to Dallas to play in a tennis shout out against Todd Martin, recently retired top 10 player in the world.

Pete will be playing at the Dr. Pepper Center in Frisco this Friday, Nov. 6 at 7pm. Pete’s Grand Slam World record of 13 titles was recently broken by Roger Federer. If you have not seen Pete play up close and personal this is your chance. Treat yourself to something completely different on a Friday night. Mercy is one of the sponsors of this event and we hope you can join us, tip a glass of vino and watch two of the best players of our time battle it out!

The happiest of holidays to everyone and it is our wish at Mercy that you have a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Glen Agritelley

Monday, September 28, 2009

Creating Holiday Memories

When you were a child, you looked forward to each holiday and the special memories that were attached to each.

Memorial Day signaled the start of summer; Independence Day, a big summer picnic followed by a community fireworks display; Labor Day, the end of summer (ugh and the start of school); Halloween and all that candy; Thanksgiving (and lots of turkey); Christmas and a spirit of giving.

As you get older, the holidays still have all of those special memories but the years seem to fly by faster now, don't they ? It seems like I have just put away last year's Christmas decorations and very shortly, they will have to come out of the attic again!

The retail stores are getting a jump on the Christmas holidays as well. I saw one store employee assembling artificial Christmas trees next to a huge display of holiday wrapping paper.

At Mercy, we have already started booking holiday party events and have had numerous inquiries for additional events. Working at a restaurant gives you the unique opportunity to share holiday memories with your customers. Over the years, I have helped plan out quite a few events and they all hold special memories for me.

Mercy has many great options available for your office and company holiday events: [Appetizer platters coupled with wine/beer selections] or [multi-course dining events with wine pairings], with great pricing for most holiday budgeting.

Create some special memories of your own at Mercy this holiday season. Our catering menu is available for viewing at:

Let us know, we would love to be part of your holiday memory !

Mike Castagne

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pete Sampras and Todd Martin to Dallas !

As many of you know, Mercy has 2 sister companies: Sebastian’s Closet and TBarM Racquet Club. Sebastian’s is a mens and ladies boutique and TBarM is a tennis club. We share many of the same customers.

TBarM will be bringing “Pistol Pete” Sampras and Todd Martin to Dallas for a tennis exhibition at the Dr. Pepper arena in Frisco on Friday, November 6th at 7 pm.

Pete Sampras is one of the all time greatest tennis players to have played the sport. Up until this year, he held the record for the most grand slam wins in the history of the game. This is the second year we have brought Pete to Dallas and this promises to be the best yet. Todd Martin was a top ten tennis player in his own right and the competition between the two will be a showdown.

Prior to the full tennis match, there will be a competition between the top juniors of Dallas and Austin. Pete will be coaching the Dallas team while Todd will coach the Austin team. You will have a chance to see some of the top juniors in the state competing.

This is a unique opportunity to see Pete play up close. He is one of the most talented tennis professionals to have ever played the sport. I have had the great opportunity to spend some time with him and he told me how much he loves coming to Dallas as he finds the Dallas crowd really enthusiastic and supportive.

If you are looking for something different to do on a Friday night, you are guaranteed to have a fun evening. You can obtain tickets from or by calling 866-337-1312. There are a limited number of VIP suites available and all suite holders will be invited to a wine tasting hosted by Mercy at the Dr. Pepper center. Pete and Todd will be in attendance and be available for you to have pictures taken and get autographs, all before the matches begin.

I hope you can all make it on November 6. The Dr. Pepper arena is intimate and all seats allow for great up close viewing. We are going to have a great time and hope you are able to join us. See you there!

Glen Agritelley

Monday, August 31, 2009

Ricki Derek gets a Big Band

For those of you unfamiliar with Ricki Derek, I’ll give you a brief background on the Dallas crooner. Ricki has been performing in the DFW metroplex for close to a decade now, appearing in nightclubs, hotels and other events throughout the city. About five years ago, I stumbled across him on lower Greenville Avenue during one of his locally famous solo performances at The Cavern and he quickly became one of my favorite performers that Dallas has to offer. So, when I found out about the monthly “Big Band Tuesday” show he is presenting at his own club, The Scat Lounge in Fort Worth, I jumped at the opportunity to go and see him last month.

Located in Sundance Square, The Scat Lounge itself has its own Chicago-esque personality. The lounge is perfectly presented from the beginning with a back alleyway entrance to which an elevator takes you down into a dark room scattered with small and intimate candlelit tables.

As I was seated at my table I could really get a clear view of the stage as the musicians were tuning for the nights performance. It was quite a sight as the 16 piece band was fully loaded with trumpets, trombones, and saxophones in addition to his usual trio of upright bass, keys, and drums. The music started at 9pm as the Big Band warmed up the crowd with a few classic ensembles, and right from the beginning it was obvious that this was going to be a good night. The camaraderie between the musicians was extremely apparent and the good energy was easily spread throughout the crowd.

Ricki took the stage at about half past 9 and, as per usual, immediately lit us up with his cheeky banter. He had just flown in earlier that day from a trip to Amsterdam, so you can only imagine the jokes that were being told throughout the night. However, if the man was jetlagged it was hard to tell. It didn’t take him long to start belting out our old Rat Pack favorites garnished with high kicks and a plethora of other dance moves.

By the time the second set was kicking off, things were really in full gear. Ricki and his Big Band were performing tracks off of his latest release including their own brass takes on Modern English’s “I Melt with You” and completed the night with Danger Man theme song “Secret Agent Man”.

I can honestly say as a huge fan, I’ve seen Ricki on stage more times than I can count and this was an absolute treat if not my favorite performance to date. He was completely in his element being backed by some of the more talented musicians in the area. I highly recommend taking the trip to Fort Worth and enjoying a wonderfully talented and just all around good time at The Scat Lounge.

Next “Big Band Tuesday”: September 15th
Next Mercy Performance: October 17th

Liz Williams

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mercy Romance with Lauren Whitener

The Mercy team has very exciting news to share with our patrons! Due to poplar demand, we are now providing live entertainment every Saturday and Sunday. Sundays will now be known as “Mercy Romance with Lauren Whitener”.

Miss Whitener is a soulful and dynamic blues/jazz singer and songwriter with southern rock undertones from Atlanta, Georgia. She began her love affair with music and the stage as a young child performing solos at the First Baptist Church and the Greater Atlanta Christian School. Her parents' love and appreciation of legends like Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James served as early influences. As she matured, Lauren added the likes of Amy Winehouse, Duffy and Adele to her repertoire.

Armed with pure talent, strong ambition and a supportive family, Lauren moved to Dallas in the fall of 2006 to fully pursue a career as a blues/jazz singer and share her talent. “The tiny girl with a powerhouse voice” (fan comment) initially performed with The Julie Bonk Trio and later teamed up with an incredible group of musicians from the Dallas area. They include Erick Morgan (toured with Ray Charles for 17 years), drums; Tommy Nash, guitar; and Shelly Carroll (recorded/performed with Maureen McGovern, Tony Bennett, Nancy Wilson, and Joe Williams), saxophone.

Lauren’s currently working on her sophomore album which will showcase her unique sound, strong mezzo-soprano vocals and mastery of the written word. It will reveal her personal journey and self-reflection, allowing the audience to get a front row seat into the artist’s soul. 2009 is quickly proving to be another exciting year for Lauren, full of new opportunities and experiences!

Please join us every Sunday from 6-9 P.M. and enjoy a relaxing evening of romance.

No cover charge, Open to the Public

Vincent Havard

Monday, August 10, 2009

Finding Art in a Wine Label

In an attempt to “spice up” the summer doldrums and the triple digit temperatures, Mercy is partnering with my good friend Steve Harvill, who owns a company called Creative Ventures, to host a wine label contest . This should prove to be a fun event which we are going to run throughout the month of August.

Here is how it is going to work: take a photo of your favorite wine label. Not your favorite wine but of a LABEL that you think shows the most creativity or that you think is very cool. Send that digital photo of the label to Mercy at or to Steve Harvill at or you may send it to both of us if you like.

Throughout the month of August, Steve, myself and the management team at Mercy will sit down and select the label that we believe shows the most creativity. The person who submitted the label that we chose will be invited to have dinner (with a guest) at Mercy with Steve, Vincent and myself. We will secure and serve the wine that the label comes from to enjoy at that dinner.

This should prove to be a fun project for everyone to take part in as they look at wines while they are shopping or just selections you might have in your wine storage. There are some really creative wine labels out there and many wine enthusiasts believe that wine labels represent an art form unto themselves.

Start looking for yourself and see what you think. Spend a bit of time and take a few pictures of labels you think are special and submit one that you like the best.

I am really pleased to announce that this week we were notified that for the 5th consecutive year, Mercy Wine Bar has been awarded the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. We are very proud of this award and having received it for Five consecutive years says to us that some of the best in our industry believes we are doing the right things.

Thanks for your continued support and lets have some fun with finding some creative and cool wine labels.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Benefits of Teamwork

Teamwork : is a joint action by two or more people, in which each person contributes with different skills and express his or her individual interests and opinions to the unity and efficiency of the group in order to achieve common goals.

Teamwork is a corporate buzz word. Corporations go to great lengths to build a cohesive team. They shuffle employees off to rigorous boot camps, where problem solving techniques are instilled within the team members through a combination of sweat, anguish, and physical testing.

Mercy has less than 25 employees. When we want to test out a teambuilding exercise, we do it the easy way. We send both the General Manager (Vincent) and the Kitchen Manager, (Juan) on vacation at the same time ! Vincent is off to Las Vegas on a mini-honeymoon and Juan for a much needed visitation with his family.

When guests compliment me on the quality of their "Mercy experience", I nod my head in deep appreciation of the compliment. But I am quick to point out to them. "We have a great staff at Mercy !" Our employees know their job, they have a passion for what they do, they enjoy each other's company and when a member of the staff "is in the weeds", they quickly step up to help. It makes my life as a manager so much easier ! So, thanks to all of the servers : Jody, Juan, Michael, M.J., and Nathan.

Lead from example. Here is another buzz phrase. Floor Manager Liz and Bar Manager Craig step up to lend a hand whenever Vincent is "on assignment" or similarly detained. Teamwork in action, as management, steps up to support the staff and Mercy continues to roll forward with no bumps in the road.

Similarly in the Kitchen: Ismael, Welington, Martin, and Esdras add additional hours to their already grueling schedules and report for work earlier to assist in preparation duties, vendor ordering, cheese slicing, vegetable chopping and the like.

Our Host staff of Amber, Nancy and Regan tend to greeting and seating of our guests which allows me the freedom to roam from location to location.

My demeanor, at times, hides how I feel however now is a good time to public acknowledge each and everyone one of Mercy's employees. Thank you, thank you, and thank you !

Mercy has a great staff and I appreciate the job that you all do.

Mike Castagne
(acting General) Manager

Monday, July 20, 2009

Michael Buble' Meets Madison Square Garden

I will admit that I was a little late to hop onto the Michael Buble' train. Of course I've heard the name for years, but I tend to gravitate toward the original tracks of all the greats rather than remakes and remixes. I'm not trying to sound like a snob, I just love the old crackles and pops of the recordings of Sinatra, Nina, and Redding etc.

However, a couple of months ago I stumbled across his 2006 release "It's Time" at Half Priced Books for under ten bucks and thought it was steal. It didn't take long for me to appreciate the croonings of the Canadian born singer and start scooping up his other albums as well.

Mr. Buble' has been off of the radar since 2007 but has put himself back in the game this summer with a two disc CD/DVD combo called "Michael Buble' meets Madison Square Garden". The package includes a 10 track CD with a DVD documentary as well as the behind-the-scenes buildup and performance of his Madison Square Garden concert. The performance not only spotlights Buble's obvious vocal ability but he also shines as an entertainer, connecting with his audience and stagemates. Fully loaded with a big band, the live tracks feature a few of Sinatra's classic favorites including "I've Got the World on a String" and Buble's co-written original "Home".

All in all, it's simply an example of a great singer doing what he does best during his first performance in one of the most desired venues in the world. I really enjoyed the behind the scenes intimate moments where Buble' talks about everything that led up to the big event. There are a few clips available on his site if you want a tasty preview and two-disc combo is available online for less than $30 bucks.

Liz Williams
Live Music Director

Monday, July 13, 2009

In support of technology

I don't consider myself a techno geek but I will admit to owning one of the early cellular phones (The Brick). I am also a big fan of PC Banking/Bill Payment and have done so for over 20 years.

In the restaurant business, I am a big proponent of Point-Of-Sale systems. They help streamline an operation, provide better records and enable everyone to communicate with each other. When a POS is working properly, the business just hums and I am thankful that we have a great POS here at Mercy.

I just recently returned from a few days of vacation and used my time away from Mercy to visit friends in the cooler climate of New York State. For those of you that are required to travel often for business, my hat goes off to you. After witnessing the inefficiencies, first-hand, of the automated baggage kiosks and online booking of seat assignments, I can only imagine the mistreatment the frequent flyer is subjected to.

The airline that I had the misfortune of using for my flight had no "automated" record of my reservation. So, I was unable to use their baggage kiosk for checking in. While standing in line to wait my turn to check baggage, it appeared that I was not the only person with that issue. Only one out of four attempts at self-check in was met with a success that yielded a boarding pass; the other three passengers that were denied took their place in line behind me.

I had made my reservation for this round trip flight two months prior to its departure. During that two month period, I was required to make new seating requests on four different instances by the airline. With each successive seating request, the availability of seating assignments diminished to the point that, yes, ultimately I was relegated to the dreaded middle seat on my flights.

Mercy has partnered with Open Table to provide us with an online Restaurant Reservation System. It's - Free • Instant • and Confirmed ! Another prime example of technology working properly. Open Table allows our guest to make reservations directly from our web site by clicking on the Reservations tab whereby, you will be whisked away to make your reservation. Upon making your online reservation, it is instaneously delivered to Mercy and available for us to view.

Again, I tip my hat to all frequent flyers for the technology blunders that you have to endure. For my excursion, I was glad to be back home at Mercy. On my first day back to work, I stepped up to our POS terminal. I ordered a bottle of Figi water (the ticket was sent to the bar) and a Grilled Swordfish Steak dinner with a substitution of grilled vegetables. Our POS deftly handled the order, the substitution and sent the order to the Kitchen to be prepared.

I am tempted to contact the airline and let them know about our Point-of-Sale System and Open Table Reservation System. They could probably use the suggestion.

There is no place like home.

Mike Castagne
Operations Manager

Monday, July 6, 2009

Awards for Best Lounge and for Best Place to Sip Wine

Over the 6 years Mercy has been open, we have received numerous awards for our wine bar. Many have been industry awards and several have been national in scope. The ones we are most proud of come from our customers.

This week Mercy was awarded 2 People's Choice awards: one for Best Lounge and the other for Best Place to Sip Wine in Addison, Texas.

The Addison and the North Dallas Corridor Guide conducted a public survey which covered everything from best doctors, to furniture stores (btw which my friend Howard Freed won for Freed's Home Furnishings. You go Howard!) to restaurants. Mercy was the only winner of 45 to have been given 2 awards. Have to mention here that Sebastian's Closet won for Best Boutique shopping.

It is the ultimate compliment when our customers take the time to vote and tell us they think we are the best. This fuels our fire to do an even better job and continue to raise the bar for providing both great products and world class service to each and every guest every time they visit us.

Thank you for your continued vote of confidence and we'll look forward to seeing you at Mercy...........

Glen Agritelley

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In celebration of the Tour de France

Every year a major event takes place in my native country of France. Care to guess what it is? It is one of the most prestigious and physically demanding sporting events, better known as the Tour de France. The annual bicycle race covers more than 3,500 kilometers or 2,200 miles throughout France and usually lasts 23 days attracting cyclists from around the world. Millions of spectators, TV viewers and avid followers tune in year after year not only to watch the race but also get a taste of new places, climates and lifestyles.

We here at Mercy have been thinking and decided to participate in the excitement! It actually makes perfect sense because wine allows us to travel, learn and experience through the pallet. So, starting Monday July 6 until July 26, you will be able to take a personal tour through your taste buds with wines from the various regions and sub regions of the hexagon. Just like the race, your Tour de France celebration at Mercy will begin in the Principality of Monaco and end in Paris on the Champs-Elysées. We put together a calendar on the Mercy website featuring all the stages of the race and the accompanying wines from the related region. These wines will be available “by the flight” and “by the glass”, ranging from $8 to $16 each. Let the tour begin!

Vincent Havard

Monday, June 22, 2009

Las Vegas is alive and well

I am writing to you this time from sunny, hot Las Vegas where I am on my annual pilgrimage with my two teenage boys and 2 of their friends. I thought I'd take a different slant on my blog this month and give you my impressions of the economy from the Las Vegas perspective. I heard how bad it was here and my expectation was to find it nearly dead, based on the press I had heard so far this year. Well, Las Vegas is alive and well. I have tried to conduct my own, personal study while here and talk to as many people as I could about how they see this city now; from cab drivers, who, by the way, are never shy at giving you their opinion; to restaurant managers, dealers, pit bosses, and hotel concierges and finally, my own powers of observation.

First, it is packed here! The people are here. I have taken the the boys to shows every night and they are packed! 2 nights out and 2 sell out shows. One more to go! Every show is discounting its tickets from 20-30% to entice people to go out. And they are.

This being our 5th year going with the boys and we usually end up at at least 1 or 2 five star restaurants. This year, we have decided to scale back a bit and are hitting more of the upper mid-tier restaurants. We have had no problems just walking up and being seated, with no reservations. A year ago, we could have never done this. I was told that the higher end, more fine dining establishments are down, some as much as 30%, while the more casual dining is up. Service has been excellent and the waitstaff, appreciative of the business, are taking extra care in their service. Let's hope this trend stays once the economy rebounds.

It is my experience that the gambling tables bump their minimums up on Friday and Saturday. Usually there are NO $10 tables available and everything is $25 minimum. I have had no problem finding a $10 or $15 minimum table on a Friday or Saturday night. The casino was packed as well. Dealers and pit bosses told me that even the "big whales" are not spending as much gambling.

Hats off to Vegas! They have successfully enticed the public to continue to spend money to travel there. They are offering some great rates at all of the major hotels. Once you are there, they are doing their best to entice you take part in all they have to offer by making it more affordable to "play". While people are not spending as much, they are still going out. Club lines are as long as they have ever been. People still want to go out and enjoy themselves. It is a time for "treading" and keeping your head above water. I have a friend who is a long time Vegas retail shop owner in Ceasars' Palace shops. She indicates that the crowds still flock in but not as many people buying as they use to.

The message has been consistent: spending down a bit, but people are still going out. The good news is that people feel good about going out and are not ready to give up on their entertainment. While times may be tougher than they were a year ago, people still need their entertainment and they value that time. As an owner of 2 retail establishments that is a good thing!

Glen Agritelley

Monday, June 15, 2009

Indie Film Summer Movie Guide

The dog days of summer are upon us, and one of my favorite ways to escape the Texas heat is to retreat into an overly air conditioned movie theater. I'm sure you have all heard the hype over Star Trek, Transformers, and Harry Potter, but I'd like to point out a couple of independent gems that are getting a lot of underground recognition from film festivals across the globe.

The Brothers Bloom (Comedy/Heist)
Release Date: Now
Cast: Rachel Wiez, Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo

Plot Synopsis: The Brothers Bloom are the best con men in the world, swindling millionaires with complex scenarios of lust and intrigue. Now they've decided to take on one last job - showing a beautiful and eccentric heiress the time of her life with a romantic adventure that takes them around the world.


Moon (Sci Fi/Thriller)
Release Date: July 3rd
Cast: Sam Rockwell

Plot Synopsis: Astronaut Sam Bell has a quintessentially personal encounter toward the end of his three-year stint on the Moon, where he, working alongside his computer, GERTY, sends back to Earth parcels of a resource that has helped diminish our planet's power problems.


It Might Get Loud (Rockumentary)
Release Date: August TBA
Cast: The Edge, Jimmy Page, Jack White

Plot Synopsis: A documentary on the electric guitar from the point of view of three significant rock musicians: the Edge (U2), Jimmy Page (Led Zepplin)and Jack White (The White Stripes).


Liz Williams

Monday, June 8, 2009

Eating simple food

By way of an introduction,my name is Mike Castagne,Operations Manager at Mercy.I have been with Mercy since its inception,yet I am probably the least known of Mercy's management team.

My normal work day comprises different duties at Mercy. Front of the House ~ guest relations, Back of the House ~ kitchen supervision, Computer Point of Sale, Special Events and Party Planning and finally,
E-mail response and delivery.

The idea for this week's Mercy blog entry came from an e-mail that I received from a guest concerning one of Mercy's newest menu selections;our Grilled Swordfish with Pappardelle Pasta and Puttanesca Sauce.

Pappardelle pasta is an Italian flat pasta cut into a broad ribbon shape.In width,the pasta is between tagliatelle and lasagna.This pasta is traditionally served with very rich, heavy sauces. This pasta's name comes from the Italian pappare, a verb which means “to gobble up.”

Our pasta sauce is comprised of: anchovies, Roma tomato, capers, basil, olive oil, red wine, Kalamata olives, minced garlic, dried crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.

As I was researching, I found this interesting fact. Puttanesca Sauce is famously named for the fact that Italy's "ladies of the evening" were able to quickly make it between clients. It is a fast and easy sauce and requires nothing more than some everyday items you probably have in your pantry already.

Our swordfish steaks are grilled, then baked and served atop the flavorful pasta and sauce, a mouth watering dish, which is sure to satisfy your tummy.

Eating simple food, what some called "Peasant Foods" are often equated with subsistence living. These are however, the simplest of recipes. Hearty, healthy and tasty meals made from grains, flavored with vegetables, and maybe seasoned with a bit of meat.

Mangiare !

Mike Castagne

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

“A HOT Red for the Summer”

Finally, summer is almost here! But does the scorching Texas heat mean that we all have to temporarily give up on red wine? Of course NOT! Like most of our guests, I’m more of a red wine drinker. There’s nothing like a good light body red or a rose to help me and my wife unwind after a long work day. Well,…….we found it! The perfect light body red to help keep you cool during the upcoming summer months.

This diamond in the rough comes out of Germany from the Valley of “Hex of Dasenstein”. Now try to repeat that ten times in a row. It is the “Amour” 2007 Pinot Noir. As its name suggests, you will definitely fall in love. As soon as the elixir kisses you, be prepared to discover the romantic charm of its deep color and sensuous sweetness. It will seduce you with a rich dense fruit bouquet and bring to mind memories of sweet cherries, elderberries and cassis.

“Amour” 2007 Pinot Noir, a sweet red wine full of passion for romantic moments in the hot summer nights. Best served slightly chilled, you can experience it at Mercy for $15/glass or $45/bottle.

Vincent Havard

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A great time to expand your palate

I have spent the last several days in Palm Desert, CA at a junior tennis tournament with my son and with a lot of downtime between matches. I have had a chance to talk with a lot of people from this area of the country about how the economy is here and how it is affecting them. There is one word that continues to come up time and time again. Everyone is talking about the “values” that are available now. Million dollar homes here are selling for 300-$400,000. Everyone is saying how people with cash are getting incredible “buys”!

In reading about the state of the wine industry in the world I hear the exact same thing. There are great values right now. Many of the French wineries are getting ready to ship their newest vintages with stockpiles of the previous year. They are feeling the pressure to move their wines. Imports to the US from Europe, South America and Australia are down.

It has been my experience that everyone has a “threshold” of what they will pay for wines. For some it is $20 a bottle while others it may be $120. Or, your threshold may even be $300 a bottle. Over a period of time people’s buying habits revolve around their personal price point threshold. Given the economic climate we are currently in, many of those thresholds do not hold up anymore. People may be saying that they are not ready to give up the lifestyle surrounding wine and food but they are much more aware of the price they are paying. This fact opens a great door of opportunity. This situation encourages exploration. People are trying new wines and looking for great wines at lower prices. This is a great time to be a wine consumer. While many countries are experiencing drops in exports of their products, a country like Chile is experiencing an increase in export of their wines. If you are use to paying $60-$80 for a bottle of Pinot from Washington or Europe, Chile is importing some really great wines in the $40 or lower range.

It is also great time to try some lesser known varietals that do not command higher prices of the better known varietals. Some of the little lesser know grapes of Italy come at a great value with incredible taste. Varietals such as Primitivo are less popular amongst the general population and come at a lower price point and should be explored. Higher prices do not always mean better wines. There are so many cases where varietals that are in less demand command less in pricing but are not of poorer quality.

This is a great time to expand your palate. Try something new and explore. There are great values out there and incredible wines waiting to be tasted.

Glen Agritelley

Monday, May 18, 2009

An evening with James Morrison

For those of you unfamiliar with James Morrison, no I am not referring to nor is he related to the iconic whiskey drinking, chain-smoking "Door" in the sixties. The initials just seem to be a coincidence. The Morrison that I am speaking of is actually a 25 year old acclaimed singer/songwriter from the U.K. who, despite his tendencies to be a little vanilla for my taste, has an extremely soulful and powerful voice and, at times, lyrics that can wrench even the toughest of guts.

So, naturally, when the Granada Theater announced that he would be passing through on April 23rd, fellow band mates Josh Goode, Bobby Hathorn, and I jumped at the chance to see him live at such an intimate venue. One of the first things I noticed was that the crowd was absolutely elated to have him there, the place was packed and very devoted to giving their undivided attention, and that is an almost guaranteed sign that it's going to be a good show. Mr. Morrison took the stage, with his first song being "Only One Night" from his sophomore album Songs for you, Truths for Me. He came fully loaded with a fantastic backup band equipped with keys and, much to Josh and I's excitement, backup singers! James spent most of his set performing his newer tracks including "You Make it Real", "Precious Love", and "Broken Strings", but he did go ahead and throw in some of his earlier favorites such as "Undiscovered", "You Give Me Something" and "Wonderful World.". My personal favorite, and probably the crowd's as well, was his performance of "You Don't Want to Love Me", it's a tender and heartfelt ballad that Morrison performed with delicate yet raw emotion.

Overall, Mr. Morrison exceeded my expectations with his unrelenting ability to pour heart and soul into his vocal performance from the first note to the last. His recorded tracks are impressive but the best way to experience James Morrison is in a live setting. One extra perk, as a promotion to sell his most recent album, if you purchased Songs for You, Truths for Me James did a meet and greet after the show. Josh and I took advantage of the opportunity, and he was very gracious, humble, and polite. So all in all, I give Morrison two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

Liz Williams
Live Music Director

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mercy launches a new spring & summer menu

Mercy has launched our new spring & summer menu and while many of your favorite items remain on it, I wanted to tell you about one of my favorite new items, the braised pork Osso Buco. There is a mouth-watering "bone in" flavor; a wonderfully succulent dish that you will be talking about for months!

I personally like it with French green beans as an additional side item. Tender and delicious, the meat literally falls off of the bone. We marinate the meat in a special blend of seasonings and then slowly cook it for 3 hours to bring out the intense flavor. It pairs perfectly with light body red wines. My personal choices are Pages Creek Pinot Noir from Tasmania or a nice Chenas from Beaujolais.

Bon Appetit!

Osso Buco: $18 (served with sun dried tomato risotto)
Pages Creek: $15/glass
Chenas: $60/bottle

Vincent Havard

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Get In Tune with Your Senses

Going to wine tastings can be lots of fun. This is commonly done at home with friends, in a wine class or a wine bar. The question is how do you truly take full advantage of the experience? My answer, you need to get in tune with your senses. In other words, fully understand what you see, smell, taste, and feel.

If you think about it, everything starts with your sensory memories. Growing up in the countryside, I was surrounded by farms, forests, mountains and home gardens. In fact, my best childhood memories include picking fruits and vegetables in my grandparent’s garden. When tasting wine, think back to your childhood as well as your present memories. Think of your sensory memories as a large MP3 device which constantly records and stores information. The only difference, these memories never get accidentally erased.

As a fun exercise in our monthly staff meetings, I sometimes conduct a lesson on fine tuning my staffs’ senses. I take the time to go to the local grocery store and select samples of different spices, herbs, fruits and vegetables. I lay the labeled samples on the table by category (ex. fresh fruit, dry fruit, fresh herbs, dry herbs, etc.) and ask them to come up one by one. With their eyes closed they go through each sample and try to transcribe their sensory experience. This exercise helps my staff in being fully prepared to describe and help select a suitable wine for each guest.

So the next time you experience a good bottle of wine, make sure to take full advantage of your sensory memories. Think about that bright ruby red color, the intense bouquet of summer blossoms, the taste of dark, ripe cherries and chocolate and that tangy, leathery feel of a nice Malbec.

Vincent Havard

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Passion for Food and Wine is Essential

We continue to get really nice compliments about our staff so I thought I’d use this time in the blog to tell you a bit about what we do to get them ready and wine knowledgeable.

First and foremost it starts with the hiring process. When someone comes to us looking to work as a server, we look for 2 major traits first: passion for food and wine, and second: a passion to be in the service business. You might think we look for someone who has vast wine knowledge. Not so. We are more concerned that they love food and wine. We narrow down our selection to usually 2 candidates and then the management team does a group interview. We get to see the candidate answer questions from 4 people and see how they handle themselves in a group setting. This is what they will be doing every day. If they shine here and can handle the team, chances are good they will do well on the floor.

Once we give the nod to bring them on, they go through a month of training on wine education. They will taste every wine on the wine list. Vincent sits with them every day and they discuss and taste 6 to 8 wines a day. We ask them to take detailed notes and gain an understanding through outside research on where our wines are from and a bit about the region of origin. After the month of tasting they will “shadow” a server or our floor manager, Liz. They will assist with table service and usually by week 5 be ready to fly solo. Every server must be able to talk about any of our wines and provide an experience to the guest that is far more than taking orders and delivering food.

Periodically, as new wines come in Vincent tastes the entire staff and they discuss region of origin of each. Every month during an all staff meeting we focus on training and making sure everyone is up to date on new additions and deletions to the wine list. We work on sequence of service and focus on areas the management team observes needs to be reinforced or tweaked.

Most of you are probably not aware that for 4 years now we have volunteered to be visited twice a month by “secret shoppers”. Our staff does not know who these folks are and we receive detailed reports each month on both visits. We were involved in the design of the feedback questionnaire so the response details how well our staff delivers the Mercy experience to our guests. Each questionnaire is individually reviewed with the server and we use these results for ongoing training.

We are committed to ongoing improvement. It is our goal to deliver a great experience to our guests every time. We strive for sustained excellence and our commitment to hiring passionate people. Ongoing training is important to ensuring you have wonderful experience every time you visit us.

Glen Agritelley

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spotlight on Lauren Whitener

This month I'd like to take a little bit of time to talk about Mercy artist, Lauren Whitener. I first was introduced to Lauren through our mutual producer Josh Goode while I was looking to expand the roster of artists at Mercy. I was immediately impressed with her jazz vocals and as she has been performing small venues and wineries throughout Dallas, Grapevine, Ft Worth, and Garland it was only a matter of time until we brought her to Addison.

Atlanta native, Lauren grew up singing throughout high school and various church functions. However, it wasn't until the fall of 2006 that she decided to move to Dallas and pursue singing as a career. Her backing band is a stellar combination of seasoned musicians including, Texas guitar veteran Tommy Nash who has played almost every venue under the sun with acts such as The Dixie Chicks, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Dave Alexander.

Lauren will be performing this Saturday April 25th at Mercy with her backing band starting at 9pm. Mainly influenced by jazz and lounge music, her set will include everything from Ray Charles to Nina Simone to Frank Sinatra. So please join us on Saturday and be sure to get here early to secure a spot close to the stage.

Liz Williams
Live Music Director

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tips for the New Wine Shopper

One of the things people most often ask me is how to buy wine. This blog is dedicated to helping you become not only comfortable, but truly enjoy the process!

Shop consistently.

Meaning, choose a wine shop and do the majority of your shopping there. When deciding on your shop take into consideration that every wine shop is different. Whether it be selection, focus, or pricing structure you need to figure out what will fit your needs. Look for a store that offers knowledgeable staff who is interested in helping you. That way you can trust their recommendations more closely when choosing something new.

Have a plan

This will limit your potential frustration and aid in keeping you from getting bogged down by the numerous regions, varietals, prices, etc. I recommend setting out armed with a price point, style, and potential pairing. Try to narrow down what you are looking for and don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions.

Price does not equal quality

While there are certainly wines out there that deserve an expensive price tag, cost doesn’t necessarily translate into quality! Wines today are increasingly priced according to start-up costs of the winery. If you are working within a budget focus on regions that are lesser known or well-established such as Spain, South America, or Lalande-de-Pomerol.

Buy discounted wine
Many wine shops offer a 10% discount on wine sold by the case, mixed or not. Look for any close-out specials or wines on sale. Just because it's discounted doesn’t mean it's bad! One of the best ways to track sales and close-outs is by signing up for on the shop's email list; you may be surprised at how much you can save.

Be willing to experiment and have fun.

It’s not a test and it’s ok if you don’t love every bottle you take home. It’s about the journey… enjoying! It’s just a matter of time before you happen upon a new favorite wine or region and that is a priceless discovery!

Happy shopping!

Jacqueline Thain

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Discovering and Understanding Red Wine

If you’re like most people, discovering and understanding red wine can pose an interesting challenge for your pallet. Many new wine drinkers generally seek wines that are on the sweet side. That is because most people have a decidedly sweet tooth, having been raised on sodas, candy and chocolate as their normal sweetness level.

As a bit of background, the tannic, leathery flavor of red wine comes from the red grape skins. Most grape "insides" are white in color. So a red wine that only uses the skins briefly during winemaking, like a “white zinfandel”, is going to generally be less tannic and more on the sweet side. It will also be light in color, since the color comes from the grape skins. Conversely, a wine that sits on the skins for a long time during winemaking will end up darker in color, more tannic and healthier. That's because many of the health compounds in a wine come from its skin. So the aim here is to slowly train your tongue to get used to those more tannic flavors, so you can move from the pink colored wines to darker colored wines.

Many of our guests at Mercy consistently ask for a sweet red wine. In the world of wine, the word sweet isn't the same as sweet like candy. There are a few red wines that are definitely on the sweet side, like dessert and port wines, but traditionally, a sweeter red wine is fruity rather than sweet. So what they are really asking for is a fruity red wine.

Well, well, well, ladies and gentlemen we have it!

St. Clair Zinfandel 2006 out of New Mexico

This is the perfect medium body wine. Low in acid with a friendly bouquet, dressed in a sweet squirt of velvety tannin. Your senses will be exposed to the rich flavors of blackberries and ripe, dark cherries with a hint of cola. Beautifully paired with a blackened ahi tuna or our fantastic tuna tartar, it’s definitely an outstanding first approach to training your pallet to reds.

You can experience this wine for $11/glass or $35/bottle

Vincent Havard

Monday, March 30, 2009

Simplicity and Elegance

I am writing this month’s blog from beautiful sunny Miami, and if you are asking, what does that have to do with Mercy? Well, quite a bit actually. I have been coming to Miami for 10 years at this same time to attend the Sony Ericsson professional tennis tournament.

As part of this pilgrimage every year, I have dinner at the Blue Door in the Delano Hotel ( This is a classic 50's art deco hotel which is one of Miami's "hot spots". The hotel is adorned with ceiling to floor white sheers throughout the interior. This was the inspiration for the sheers we have at Mercy. They flow in the wind when the doors open and create great spaces to enjoy a drink with privacy. I have always been impressed with the simplicity and elegance of this space. While Mercy is very Italian in it's "feel" the Delano is ultra modern but you can not help
but notice the beauty the draping creates in the space.

As usual, we dine on the back patio overlooking the wading pool. It is a balmy evening with a cool breeze. The stark white nature of everything in the hotel creates a simplicity and elegance unsurpassed! There is a constant parade of beautiful people from all over the world. High fashion is in vogue and everyone is dressed like they just left their GQ modeling gig! Of course the food is incredible. Nouveau Americana cuisine is impeccable.

This is my 10th anniversary at this tournament and one of the highlights of my year and the Delano never ceases to impress. Everything about the dining experience is simply amazing. Next time you are in Miami stop by, even for a drink. You will not be disappointed, I promise you. Stay for dinner if you can and treat yourself to one of the better dining experiences you might have.

By the way, we are working on our summer and spring menu and will have it all ready for you in another few weeks. We are excited about some of the changes. However, do not fear, many of your favorites are remaining but we have some great surprises in store! Also, stop by and see our new patio fire pit!

Gotta run, tennis is about to start and can't miss one shot!

Glen Agritelley

Monday, March 23, 2009

Easter Yumminess!

Spring is here, and Easter is just around the corner! Easter, like Thanksgiving has its traditions. So what pairs best with Easter Dinner? That depends on what your Easter dinner is comprised of. Typically, you either see ham or lamb and if you’re at my house it's both! In this blog I will cover some basic pairings for your dinner starting with the ham...

Wine Pairing for Ham
In general, ham is typically glazed with a light, sweet sauce often using honey or apricot, which brings balance to the inherent saltiness of the meat. One of the most traditional pairings is Riesling with its aromatic notes of peach and apricot. Some of you are in for a surprise when I tell you what you want is a fine, dry Riesling. Yes, there is such thing as a dry Riesling and with this pairing it is very important! When pairing ham it’s important to balance both the sweet and salty elements of the dish. Riesling offers enough sweet fruit to balance the salt, yet enough acidity to support the flavor combination without throwing either out of balance. One of my favorite regions to find such lovely, unusual wines is Alsace. Sitting just over the border from Germany; Alsace, produces many of the same varietals, but unlike its neighbor, 95% of the wines from Alsace are dry. Not many people are familiar with Alsace, but this price-point friendly region is well worth your investigation!

Wine Pairing for Lamb
I adore lamb just about any way you serve it! Leg of lamb, stuffed lamb, roast lamb, braised lamb they all delight my palate! Lamb can be paired according to the style you choose to prepare it, or you can go with a fantastic little wine that is almost guaranteed to fit any and all. The sexy little Pinot Noir is once more making an appearance to add the perfect finishing touches to your Easter feast. The pinot you are looking for has a touch of bright fruit with a little bit of zippy acidity. This pairing will make your palate sing! The acidity brings harmony with the fat, while the fruit bridles the gaminess. The region I would choose for this pairing: Willamette, hands down! When Willamette Valley takes the stage, this Oregon region shines! These pinots offer a delectable balance of fruity acidity making it the perfect wine for sipping or pairing.

I hope as you sit down to your fantastic feast, whatever it may be, you take a moment to appreciate all the newness of the world! And remember: always be willing to try new things, but drink what you love!

Happy Easter!
Jacqueline Thain

Monday, March 16, 2009

Chris Isaak "Mr. Lucky"

Although over the past 20 years Chris Isaak has been a household name, the fact that this is his first release in over seven years definitely deserves our attention. Mr. Isaak has always been a Mercy favorite and his new album "Mr. Lucky" proves to be no exception. 

This time around, Isaak seems to have drawn from a wider range of musical influences rather than just honing in on one sound. Die-hard fans won't be disappointed with his soft pop melodies, but rather interested to find that he has added a hint of edginess that has bumped him from the pop genre into the rock category.

A few of my top tracks on the album include the opener "Cheater's Town" with it's nice alternative country feel, "Take My Heart" offers a rarely done country swing track to the album, and my personal favorite "Baby, Baby" features Chris Isaak's soothing vocals and tender lyrics which personify why we love him so.

My only complaint regarding this album is that it took seven years to get here. Rest assured you'll be hearing a few tracks from "Mr. Lucky" on the Mercy play list soon.

Liz Williams

Monday, March 9, 2009

Earthquake Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Picture this: a tender, flavorful filet mignon followed by a dense, thick chocolate torte, you reach for your glass, and taste a heavy extract, California Cabernet Sauvignon called Earthquake.

Earthquake Cabernet Sauvignon hails from the Lodi region at the northern tip of the San Joaquin Valley, just east of the San Francisco Bay. Earthquake received its name commemorating the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake which coincided with the vineyard’s initial planting.

Ok, let’s see if I can make your mouth water with this description. Imagine a bittersweet, chocolate fudge cake, in harmony with freshly roasted coffee beans, with just a hint of vanilla. Now, bite into a couple of dark, ripe cherries……yummy !

I shared a bottle of Earthquake Cabernet Sauvignon with my girlfriend this week. Ladies, if you enjoy a wine with a rustic feel but with friendly, silky tannins, then you will enjoy it as much as she did.

Sample some at Mercy (Bottle $55, Glass $18) with your special someone, as it will definitely place you in the mood.

Vincent Havard

Monday, March 2, 2009

Thanks to all !

For all of you that joined us at Mercy for Valentine’s Day, I’d like to thank you for choosing us to help celebrate this holiday with your special someone. It was a special night for all of us. It was our 6th anniversary and, with your help, we set an all time sales record. Your vote of confidence in us to deliver a great experience every time you visit is something we treasure. Our people are passionate about food and wine. They love what they do and look forward to sharing that experience with you.

While some might say we have proven our viability by the test of time, we do not take this for granted ! We know that we have to prove ourselves every day and we “earn our stripes” by delivering a great experience, one guest at time. Delivering a great experience EVERY TIME is our goal. You continue to reward us with your patronage and after 6 years, breaking one sales record after another, it tells us we are doing the right thing by our guests.

The beauty of wine is that it is constantly changing and there are always new things to find. It is a constant journey of discovery. It is exciting to find new wines or discover the greatness of a new vintage and share that knowledge with our guests. We are always on the “hunt” for new wines every day and adding more gems to our list.

We have just begun the process of revamping our dining menu. We are excited that 6 years into our journey, we have continued a process of changing our menu twice a year. While many of your favorite items will remain; we are looking for new food offerings to pair with our wines to bring that new experience to you. Our spring/summer menu will be ready before May and we are excited about the direction it is taking. More to come on this!

Thank you once again for your loyalty to Mercy and know that we will continue to work hard to earn that loyalty. I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at Mercy.

Glen Agritelley

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pairing Wine and Cheese

One of my favorite things to do when I am not behind the bar, is to enjoy a flight of wines that have been well-paired with a cheese tray. As much as I adore and prefer reds, I love seeing what happens to whites when they are paired correctly! This set of pairings will contain a white, a red and a fortified wine. Although you might typically prefer one style of wine over another, I highly encourage you to stretch outside of your comfort zone and try these. You might discover a new love.

This first pairing is considered ages old. The wine is Chateau de Sancerre and the cheese is a goat gouda. Sancerre is the name for both a style and a region from the Loire Valley in France. Sancerre wines are always 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Chateau de Sancerre is a winery that sits in the heart of Sancerre and is owned by Chateau Lapostolle in Chile. The wine is perfectly refreshing with subtle floral and flint qualities, the body is structured with fantastic acidity, carrying soft fruit and grass notes. A goat gouda is perfect for people who are looking to experience goat cheese for the first time or who typically don't like it. This cheese is much softer with less acidity than one often sees in a goat cheese. It is semi hard with a creamy, slightly elastic texture. The pairing of Chateau de Sancerre and a goat gouda works well because both are fairly mild with similar acidity. It is the similar accidity styles that makes for a very happy, balanced marriage between the two.

The second pairing is Taurasi Gaetano with a 6 year-old yellow cheddar from Wisconsin. Taurasi is chiefly made with Aglianico (ah-LYAH-nee-koe), a black grape originating from Greece. It is produced in province of Avellion, a region of Campania, not far from Mount Vesuvius. This wine is big and rustic with lots of tannins, very little fruit and a dry finish.The cheese is fairly strong and sharp yet strikes the perfect balance with a creamy finish. I absolutely adore this pairing. When paired, Taurasi Gaetano and the cheddar morph into something better together than either was alone. The Taurasi goes from being a big tannic bully to a full bodied supple red. The cheddar is able to stand up to it perfectly, softening the wine yet remaining present to the palate.

The third and final pairing is one of my all-time favorites and possibly doubles as my favorite dessert as well. It is Domaine de Coyeux Muscat de Beaumes de Venise with Roquefort. Pairing blue cheese and dessert wine or port is not a new concept, but sometimes unknown. It is a pairing that is always fun to introduce to people who have never experienced it before. I have converted many blue cheese or fortified wine haters with this capricious pairing. The name Domaine de Coyeux Muscat de Beaumes de Venise is a mouthful. To break it down a bit, Domaine de Coyeux is the producer, Muscat is the grape and Beaumes de Venise is a sweet-wine appellation in the south of France. I love this dessert wine because it isn't cloying and filled with overwhelming sugar. It is, however, filled with abundantly floral and apricot fragrances carrying through with touches of sweet citrus on the palate. Roquefort or 'king of blue cheese", made from sheep's milk, is complex, creamy and pungent. But where the blue could become overwhelming, the wine settles it and rounds out the flavor. This pairing is fun because the cheese manages to retain what it is outside of the wine, while still bringing balance to its partner.

I personally extend an invitation to you; whether at the bar, in the lounge, or relaxing at a table, to try one of these pairing. At Mercy Wine Bar, we would be thrilled to put together one of these pairings or we could create one of the many other possible wine and cheese trays with our outstanding selections!

Jacqueline Thain

Monday, February 16, 2009

Two Time Emmy Award Winner

I am pleased to tell you that this week we are bringing in two time Emmy award winning Josh Goode.

A little bit of background on Josh, he has been performing and playing music for well over a decade. The UT graduate has been touring for years all over the world, including Greenland, Japan, Italy, Egypt and the Caribbean Islands. He has more recently dedicated his talents to producing local artists and writing for television and film. Among his many accomplishments, his efforts have earned him two Emmy's in a two year a time span.

Josh has been playing at Mercy for over a year now and for those of you who have not had the opportunity to catch him live, this weekend would be a perfect time to start. His set list is very eclectic, mixing in his own originals as well as covering other great artists as well. His style reflects his love for blues and jazz but with a contemporary twist and pop driven hooks. His influences include but not limited to, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Mayer, The Beatles, Jason Mraz and Led Zeppelin.

I hope to see you all this weekend and don't forget to reserve a table as this is sure to be a packed house.

Liz Williams

Monday, February 9, 2009

Discover Ollieux Romanis 2006 Alicante Bouchet

Mercy is the only United States venue to serve Ollieux Romanis 2006 Alicante Bouchet .

We have known about this wine for a very long time, but because it is so special, it is difficult to find. It is rare for us to be able to offer it. Once we knew it was available in the U.S., we immediately made arrangements to buy all 16 cases.

The reaction that we get from someone who is trying it for the first time is usually, 'Wow!,' It is very different, with a lot of unexpected flavors. It's more of a sipping wine because its flavors are so big and powerful. The wine fits perfectly with Mercy's goal of bringing rare and relatively undiscovered wines to Dallas.

Ollieux Romanis, a family-owned vineyard in the South of France, employs traditional methods to produce smooth and elegant wines. Their Alicante Bouchet grapes are grown on 85-year-old vines and create a bold wine with a distinctive olive-based flavor that is followed by hints of rosemary and thyme. The Alicante Bouchet grape is known as a productive fruit with an intense red flesh and juice, and is normally used as a blending grape. Ollieux Romanis is one of very few wineries offering Alicante Bouchet as a varietal.

Vincent Havard

Monday, February 2, 2009

It's not all doom and gloom

If you watch the news you’ll actually begin to believe that the world is about to come to an end. With all of the gloom and doom about the economy there are many rays of hope and here is a good one for all of us.

In a recent Dallas Business Journal article: the Texas Restaurant Association said the Lone Star State is expected to lead the country, in terms of sales growth in 2009. Texas restaurants will employ more than one million Texans next year. The NRA forecasts that restaurant industry in US sales will increase by 2.5 percent over 2008.

“Even in these tough economic times, it is clear that the Texas restaurant industry is the best place to do business in the nation,” said Richie Jackson, TRA executive vice president/CEO. “While our country is coping with the weakest economy in decades, Texas restaurateurs continue to buck the trends and post positive sales and job growth.”

When the restaurant industry is doing well that flows back to the guests patronizing those restaurants. It means they have confidence and are still spending money. The ripple affect is huge. That means the suppliers and distributors do well because restaurants are ordering food and that flows back to the growers.

There is no question we are in uncertain and questionable times but the best we can do is continue to do a great job at what we do and keep moving forward.

Turn your TV off and feel better about the world!

Glen Agritelley

Monday, January 26, 2009

Girl's Dining Night In

I love creating rich sensory experiences with food, whether for myself or for others. It has been the driving force behind the "Entertaining with Food and Wine" class that I conduct at Mercy.

Recently, I co-hosted a Girl's Night "In" and selected a favorite wine which was a Cotes du Rhone. My next task was to pick my recipe to pair with the wine selection.

I wanted something fairly easy, budget friendly, and homey. I selected "Risotto with Spicy Sausage" with blanched broccoli, roasted garlic and olive oil.

As I began to cook, I opened the bottle, pouring glasses for my guests and myself. The blend is 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and Cinsaults by one of my favorite producers, Santa Duc. The color is deep purplish ruby showing a full body with notes of chocolate, plum, pepper, herbs and earth.

I started on the recipe, sauteing the garlic and onions, (which forced a few tears from my eyes) before I added the spicy sausage and arborio rice.

This recipe requires you to add broth in ¼ cup increments stirring constantly, which is the only tedious part, but let me say that the rich creamy texture you end up with is well worth the effort! I finished by adding a splash of cream and Parmesan Reggiano.

As a side note: if you don't care for spicy dishes, the perfect solution would be to substitute a mild sausage for the spicy.

After plating the risotto and broccoli, I refreshed our glasses, and we popped in Sex and the City to complete our delicious evening together.

The wine really pulled the spice out of the food, at the same time balancing the richness. We finished the night as every girl's night should, with dark chocolate. I am not sure which was better the meal or just connecting with my girls, either way it was a fantastic night. I hope you are able to enjoy your dining experience as much as we did!

The Wine: 2005 Santa Duc Cotes Du Rhone Les Vieilles Vignes (old Vines)

The Recipe:
- 1 pound spicy Italian sausages, casings removed
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 1/4 cups medium-grain white rice
- 4 to 5 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
- 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/3 cup cream

Saute sausage, onion and garlic in large saucepan over medium heat until onion is tender, breaking up sausage with spoon: about 8 minutes. Add rice and stir 1 minute. Add 3 cups broth. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until broth is absorbed, stirring frequently. Continue to simmer until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy, adding more broth 1/4 cup at a time and stirring frequently. Mix in 1/4 cup cheese, 1/4 cup parsley 1/3 cup cream. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer risotto to large bowl. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup parsley. Pass around remaining 1/4 cup cheese separately.

Bon Appetite !

Jacqueline Thain

Monday, January 19, 2009

Spotlight on Nathan Johnson

January Profile: Nathan Johnson appearing at Mercy on January 24th.

I first ran into Nathan Johnson when he was brought in to play a private Christmas Party at Mercy a couple of months ago. I immediately liked him and his ability to read a room with his eclectic set list. Nathan plays a wide range of cover tunes, from Elton John to Eric Clapton, not to mention his stellar originals as well.

Here is a little bit of background information on our newest performer: Nathan is a full time singer/songwriter and rising recording artist who tours full time, both solo and with backing players - as is reflected in his catalogue of songs. He is experienced in all types of venues & events, and is a humorous performer. As he has been named Indie Artist of the Month for January '08 (see, the future surely holds great things for Nathan. He has performed at venues all over Texas and Oklahoma such as Gypsy Team Room, Club Dada, The Iron Horse Pub, MoMo's, Saxon Pub, plus many other events, outdoor festivals, colleges, and charities. He has opened up for Lisa Loeb, Bob Schneider, Monte Montgomery, Brave Combo, Feeding 5000, Roger Clyne and The Peace Makers, Lucy Kaplansky and others.

I'm proud to tell you that he will make his Mercy debut on January 24th @ 9pm. So be sure to show up early in order to grab a table close to the stage and enjoy the music.

You can check out all of the live entertainment that will be appearing at Mercy by clicking the "event calendar" link!

Also, if you or someone you know is interested in playing at Mercy feel free to email me a bio and mp3's to
Thanks everyone!

Liz Williams

Monday, January 12, 2009

A new Pinot Noir offering

Van Duzer Estate Pinot Noir 2006
Willamette Valley, Oregon

WOW ! and when I say WoW , I mean it !

Those that say that Pinot Noirs from Oregon "lack body and are thin on the palette" have never experienced this offering. This Pinot Noir retains so much extraction from the fruit; it will make a Merlot seem pale.

Tasting and description
Equilibrium exists throughout this wine. It has good weight on the palette, an outstanding mouth feel. Silky, velvety with very soft tannins throughout with aromas of blackberry, crème de cassis, floral and a hint of purple jasmine. You will also taste some very tiny notes of espresso bean on the finish.

Van Duzer is a great experience that I invite you to share at Mercy :
Glass $25, Bottle $75

Vincent Havard