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Chef Robert Curtis Steps in at Mercy Me to Perform a Latin Menu Makeover

The Bourbon Steak alum is part of a big change of command at the West End restaurant

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Picanha-Moqueca and tuna crudo at revamped Mercy Me.
Hawkeye Johnson

The reigns at Mercy Me are shifting once again. The “Sorta South American” restaurant in the West End — originally the 2020 product of Timber Pizza Co. power couple Daniela Moreira and Andrew Dana — enters a fresh phase next week under the leadership of newly formed Unordinary Hospitality Group.

Starting Monday, November 27, the stylish lobby-level restaurant officially unveils a brand-new food and beverage menu, revamped decor, and a vinyl “listening room” for groups of music lovers to vibe in while they dine (1143 New Hampshire Ave NW). Call Your Mother, D.C.’s beloved bagel shop from Moreira and Dana, continues to operate as usual on-site.

Mixologists Radovan Jankovic and Marko Bogdanovic are now leading Mercy Me’s beverage program, while Unordinary’s third founding partner Robert Curtis is stepping in as culinary director. Curtis, who quietly left his executive chef role at Four Seasons’ luxe Bourbon Steak this year, also led the kitchen at now-closed Hazel and held an apprenticeship at Copenhagen’s Noma. The Mercy Me opportunity appealed to Curtis, he says, “to create something new with the aim of rebuilding a truly great concept.”

Together with Brazilian chef Giancarlo Junyent, Mercy Me continues to take diners on a culinary tour across South America, with fresh and innovative additions ranging from Argentina’s fugazetta to Peruvian tuna crudo.

Ceviche made with hamachi, passion fruit, and leche de tigre is served atop a cold purple sweet potato sorbet, keeping the fish chill while creating a subtlety sweet, sour and filling bite. A charred radicchio “Caesar” that requires a fork and knife is packed with umami from an anchovy vinaigrette and a crunch from garlic streusel. Gnocchi makes an appearance with an unexpected pairing of braised short rib, poblano mole sauce, Cotija cheese and pickled red onions, creating a wholesome and comforting dish fit for the winter season.

The fugazetta shines as a version of the Argentinian-style stuffed pizza, served in three versions: with Comte and provolone cheese, onions and garlic; whipped ricotta and fig; or honey and shaved truffles. Four pieces pull apart for an indulgent bite. And to pull out all the stops, a $139 tomahawk steak built for four to six is brought to the table sizzling with roasted garlic and chimichurri sauces.

The tomahawk steak at Mercy Me, part of the 2023 relaunch menu
Hawkeye Johnson

Not to be outshone, the retooled bar menu aims to make Mercy Me “a premiere cocktail destination in D.C.,” says Jankovic and Bogdanovic. The complex “Chica & Pedro” features Spanish wine Pedro Ximénez, chicha morada (a Peruvian favorite made of dried purple corn, fruit, and spices), rye, pineapple, and lemon. The “OG Espresso Martini” is a fancier version of the ubiquitous classic, made with vodka, amaretto, coconut butter, Mexican fernet, a Brazilian espresso blend, and Amazonian cacao. Jankovic is credited with creating one of the best espresso martinis in town during his tenure at Dupont’s Residents Cafe & Bar.

The new espresso martini at Mercy Me.
Hawkeye Johnson

Tucked inside the boutique Yours Truly hotel that now flies the InterContinental flag, Mercy Me maintains its boho-chic artistic interior, with additional velvet armchairs, couches, and tables tucked next to towering, tropical plants. The hotel’s old vinyl shop has been turned into a private dining listening room, where guests can select the music of their choice (and the entire restaurant gets to listen—a privilege best used wisely), or work with a live DJ on a customized set.

Mercy Me is open Sunday through Thursday from 4 p.m. until 9:30 p.m., with dinner serving beginning at 5 p.m. and the bar open until 10:30 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 4 to 10:30 p.m., with dinner service beginning at 5:30 p.m. and bar service until 11:30 p.m.