The Merchant is super quiet during lunch and often pretty hopping during dinner. Both atmospheres have their advantages if you are in one of those moods.
Last week, I took out my boyfriend for a quiet and late (3pm) lunch. We were the only people in the restaurant, but it was cool (it was 90 degrees outside), quiet, and nice to have the place to ourselves. Service was perfectly timed—not too rushed (we are European)—and not too slow. They were attentive in keeping our glasses full and checking on us every now and then, but not intrusive at all.
My date got the short-rib burger, a $15 monstrosity of glorious meat topped with horseradish chive cheddar, bourbon bacon, beer-friend onions, and LT. He chose to have cheese added to his fries. I watched in awe as his 6-ft 148 pound body cleaned the plate. It was that good.
I was enticed by the bbq duck quesadilla, but eventually decided on the pan-seared rare tuna wrap, mixed with asian-style vegetables and dressed with teriyaki sauce and wasabi mayonnaise and comes with a side salad. I could only get through half of it. Tuna was maybe not as rare (or juicy?) as I liked and I thought the flavor a little bland…maybe not enough of the dressing/condiments.
We were both in a food coma walking out. The hearty portions left no room for dessert, even though the deep-fried Snickers looks like it’s worth a try. Next time.
On a previous lunch date, I sat outside (great for people watching). My friend and I ordered the steak wrap to split (with onions, goat cheese and horseradish), which was plenty of food per person—even really hungry people—on a warm July day. We were spending the rest of the afternoon outside, and you never want to get into a food coma when you’re susceptible to a heat one. I don’t even think I finished my half in fear I’d get sluggish, even though I walked in hungry.
Dinner here is always more impressive than it seems it will be. The bar is fairly scene-y, the lighting is just right, and the service is usually spot-on in attentiveness. I’ve tried a variety of things here for dinner. My favorite meal would be a shared appetizer of “bang bang” shrimp to start, then the warm goat cheese salad with apples in raspberry vinaigrette, and sea scallops (pan roasted with truffle butter) served with broccoli rabe for an entree. I tried my companion’s filet mignon, which was flavored and cooked to perfection, everything a carnivore would like in a good piece of meat.
When you’re jonesing for a well-made drink and a sophisticated bar crowd, going here for cocktails won’t disappoint. There are happy hour specials every night of the week, too, and on weekends, drink specials last all night long.