Of Whiskey and Whimsey
A new drinkery and eatery designed to uplift patrons with witty art and creative cocktails opens at the former site of Bon Temps Grill
The hotly anticipated Mercy Kitchen in Lafayette (mercy-kitchen.com), opened in September, is an “elevated casual” concept that was birthed during the pandemic by owner Stuart Ottinger (founder of Oxford Provisions Group) “to provide an escape from the madness.”
He engaged designer Kelly Sutton (Four Seasons, Effervescence in New Orleans) and artist Ellen Macomber (known for the wild, whimsical murals at Justine restaurant in New Orleans, and her caftans and carnival headgear).
Macomber playfully embellished the interior with 3-D murals incorporating velvet birds and a painting of Elvis in a white suit, bedazzled with Swarovski crystals and three feet of fringe, with birds perched atop his head and arms.
In the courtyard, the artist drolly bedazzled the interior of a 1955 pickup truck, painted it with her trademark evil eyes and transformed it into an Instagrammable cocktail bar with fold-out ledges and comic pink figurines.
“In South Louisiana, we love to be with friends, have crawfish boils, eat out and drink good wine,” says Stuart. “With COVID shutting down restaurants, we were itching to get back with friends and get together. We needed some mercy in our lives so we created Mercy Kitchen coming out of the pandemic. We want you to feel like you’re in someone’s living room, eating creative food, having great wine and a great time.”
“We purchased a special Japanese snowball machine so we’ve got boozy snowballs,” says Colleen Ottinger, Stuart’s wife. “There’s nothing like it in Lafayette.”
Patrons linger near the vintage truck beneath the cypress trees and enjoy such shareables as charcuterie and whipped cheese boards paired with cauliflower bread, truffle fries, Gulf shrimp lettuce wraps and BBQ shrimp, chased by craft cocktails like the “Lil’ Jean Lafitte,” and the “Whiskey Wabbit,” a tangy, energizing concoction that’s a favorite among Mercy’s imbibers.
Combine 1.5 ounces rye whiskey, .75 ounce sherry, .5 ounce ginger and .75 ounce carrot juice with ice and stir to chill. Strain into a cocktail or a coupe glass, garnish with fresh dill and serve.