Mercado chef Nathan Sasi never picked that the signature dish at his new, Moorish-leaning restaurant would be "a bloody ham and cheese sandwich". Nonetheless, his combination of smoked and brined wagyu tongue, pickled green tomato and Gruyère béchamel on slices of pork-fat enriched brioche is certainly gaining traction in Sydney.
Sasi's love of offal prompted his choice of wagyu tongue for this dish, inspired by the salt beef-stuffed bagels of East London's Brick Lane, where he lived for a time. "I love serving offal in such a way that you don't know it's offal," he says. It's true - the thin slivers of tongue taste just like the corned beef you'd find in a Reuben. "Most people think it's bacon," says Sasi.
Sasi's brioche is rich and uniform, brushed with butter and toasted to a golden brown in the sandwich press. Bring a glass of lightly oxidative chardonnay from Jura producer Jean Bourdy into the mix and it's unstoppable.
Mercado, 4 Ash St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9221 6444; open lunch Mon-Fri noon-3pm, dinner Mon-Thu 5.30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. mercadorestaurant.com.au