The team that gave Vancouver diners the critically-acclaimed Mackenzie Room is opening a second restaurant in the New Year, this time at 4298 Fraser Street.
The owners – Antonio Cayonne, chef Sean Reeve and Andrew Jameson (pictured above) – were kind enough to show me around the 1,400 sqft construction site just prior to the weekend. It looked considerably different than the last time I did a walk-through at this address, which was only a little over a year when its intentionally spooky (but unintentionally short-lived) predecessor, The Dark Manor Inn, was also taking shape.
This time around I think the concept is a safer, more approachable one. “Italian as seen through the lens of American barbecue” is how Say Mercy! has been described to me. There’s a lot of obvious potential and avenues towards deliciousness there, and if you’ve eaten Reeves’ food at the Mackenzie Room before you’re at least a little aware of how deep his appreciation for high quality ingredients is, and familiar with his talent for making them sing. “I was classically trained in Italy and fell in love with the simplicity of Italian cuisine – but the first kitchens I worked in that made me want to be a Chef were barbecue spots full of smoke, whiskey, and swine.” he says.
The menu is still very much in development, but I’m told it will see a selection of starters and pastas, as well as some larger share plates like Bistecca alla Fiorentina and whole fish. Reeves’ chef de cuisine will be Mathew Bishop (interview), who has been cooking at the Mackenzie Room for upwards of three years now (previously at Araxi). The GM will be Cody Dodds, who you will also recognize from the Mackenzie Room (previously, the Lobby Lounge), and running the wine program will be Meghan McDowell (ex-Nomad, Bistro Wagon Rouge). The bar is tiny – I think just four seats – but this crew likes good drinks so it’s fair to expect to see some come opening day, which is being tentatively set for January 15th, 2020. Say Mercy! will be open 7 nights a week with dinner service starting at 5pm.
I’m super curious as to how it will look once it’s finished. Andrew Jameson is doing the design work (just as he did at the Mackenzie Room), so I anticipate a unique environment. He’s already found a lot of cool light fixtures via Scott Landon Antiques that match his choice of wallpaper and colour palette, both of which suggest something of an Art Deco / Edwardian turn.
I’ll poke my head in again to take some pictures once the banquettes are in and the room starts to take more tangible shape. In the meantime, take a look inside…