I've been known to linger a tad too long in specialty food stores — picking from what I imagine to be the owner's ideal kitchen cupboard makes food shopping more personal. The Mercantile (1660 DeKalb Ave., 404-378-0096, www.themercantileatl.com) in Candler Park obviously reflects the style of owners Samantha Enzmann and Janea Boyles.
The window-filled space is neatly organized but effortless. Bouquets of pristine turnip greens and glistening baby bok choy beckon from the organic produce display. Sundries include an impressive assortment of teas, bags of Carolina Gold rice ($9.99) and an interesting variety of beverages. The refrigerated case is filled with jugs of Sparkman's milk ($4.99) and slabs of golden butter ($4.99/lb). But the real treasures are the indispensable homemade stocks and mother sauces, including Béchamel. Be sure to check out the website's hilarious soap operaesque "stories" behind the sauces.
Although the sandwiches are made with quality ingredients and certainly sound appealing, they are mysteriously unsatisfying. "The Kirkwood" ($7.99), a combination of bacon, avocado, homemade onion confit, peppery watercress and mayonnaise on white bread, looked monstrous, but there was not enough filling to compete with the large slices of bread. "The Candler" ($7.99), sliced roasted turkey, pancetta, cranberries and cream cheese, was great in theory, but the pancetta's tough rind and slightly dry bread left much to be desired. The store has plenty more going for it, however, including some terrifically friendly and knowledgeable shopkeeps who understand good service. And while the Mercantile is not a "one-stop shop," it is ideal for popping in for a roasted Springer Mountain chicken ($7.99-$8.99), a gorgeously marbled prime steak, a hunk of Parmesan or a crusty baguette ($3.29) from Tribeca Oven.