Mercury Dining Room & Rail. Photo by Eric Best

Mercury Dining Room & Rail. Photo by Eric Best

Now open: Mercury Dining Room and Rail

Updated: October 31, 2016 - 4:05 pm

Dining has returned to the former home of Brasserie Zentral.

Blue Plate Restaurant Co. has revived the space last home to Brasserie Zentral and wine bar Foreign Legion in downtown’s Soo Line Building with two new concepts.

The Mercury Dining Room and Rail, the company’s second downtown Minneapolis restaurant after the North Loop’s Freehouse, opened Tuesday at 5th & Marquette. Shindig Event Center, its sister private event space, will open its doors later this fall.

Anna Mailliard, the company’s marketing manager, describes the concept as a “modern neighborhood bistro” serving dialed-up American food with French and Southern influences.

Among Mercury’s specialties are buttermilk-marinated fried chicken and crab cakes. There’s an emphasis on breakfast with a large menu early in the day and even a small selection of breakfast options — their Mr. Midnight menu — available at night. Mercury’s kitchen, led by Chef Jeff Woodyear, along with Jeff Anderson, Blue Plate’s culinary brand manager, and culinary director Francis Gonzalez, also serves fresh baked goods and oysters on the half shell. The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and happy hour, dubbed the social hour.

MERCURY 6 by EB web

For cocktails, Blue Plate’s newest restaurant offers six taps from Freehouse and several house cocktails, as well as craft beer and wine. Among its signature drinks is the Mercury Express ($12), a bourbon cocktail with rosemary, grapefruit juice and honey syrup. There’s also a nod to a Minneapolis icon with the Mary Tyler ($10), a vodka martini with ouzo, pomegranate, and pineapple and lime juice.

Blue Plate has renovated the Brasserie space, taking out a private dining space in the back to lengthen the bar. They also got rid of large awnings outside to open up the 168-seat restaurant.

In the spring, Mailliard said they plan to open a takeout window out of the kitchen’s Marquette side so downtown office workers can pick something up much like they would with a food truck.

The Mercury Express
The Mercury Express

In Mercury’s sister space, just across Soo Line’s lobby, the company is making its first foray into private events, said Stephanie Shimp, the company’s co-owner.

Shindig Event Center is really several event spaces, from the 120-capacity main room with its own bar and attached lounge to a separate boardroom in the back with room for nearly 40 people.

Carly Clark, a sales and event manager, said Shindig’s unique event menu will borrow a bit from Mercury and their other restaurants, but it will primarily serve platters, appetizers and banquet-style dining. Its bar has four Freehouse beer taps, long with two open taps open for clients.

Shindig's private bar
Shindig’s private bar

Clark said their Shindig’s event is booked for Nov. 20.

Mercury Dining Room and Rail is now open at 505 Marquette Ave. S. Its hours are 6:30 a.m.–midnight Monday through Thursday, 6:30 a.m.–1 a.m. on Friday, 7:30 a.m.–1 a.m. on Saturday and 7:30 a.m.–10 p.m. on Sunday.

Shindig's boardroom
Shindig’s boardroom