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Square Meal Review of Merchant's Tavern ?

Michelin-starred queen bee Angela Hartnett has teamed up with chef Neil Borthwick (ex-The Square) and the founders of Brit-themed Canteen chain for this new City venture – a slick, ‘cavernous’ space several notches up from your usual tavern. Plush, curved leather banquettes set the tone, but there’s a touch of Shoreditch chic, too, in the form of bare-brick walls and metal pillars. Service is well informed and the food has all the familiar Hartnett hallmarks – carefully sourced seasonal ingredients and Mediterranean flair with a dash of British comfort. Quail with hazelnuts and foie gras ‘hits the mark’, mallard comes with mustard greens and sarladaise potatoes, and ‘bright white’ roast brill is partnered by coco beans, anchovies and bread sauce. Incredibly rich hogget broth is a standout seasonal opener, and desserts are pure indulgence (think sticky rum baba with caramelised apple). ‘Another winner for Angela’, especially with snacks and interesting tipples at the bar.

Wines of Rioja

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  1. After much procrastination, and hearing good things about it, I have finally had dinner at Merchants Tavern.I was also quite fortunate that weekend to have sweet Mikey working that very evening...Had a sneaky little smile and wave when we were being seated, and Mikey personally came with our menus - *grins*We were seated at a cosy little corner, with a nice view of the dining area and open kitchen at the back.  | Charlottes' Rules | - Aperol, Campari, Tanqueray Gin, Ginger Ale, Lime Juice, Orange - | Deep Fried Oysters |My second time having deep fried oysters - I'm not really a fan of raw oysters, but it's a whole different story when they're deep fried...I think I'm hooked.  | Roast Quail, Hazelnut Pesto, Remoulade & Foie Gras |Juicy, delicate and tender pieces of quail. Vivienne wasn't keen on the foie gras, so I, without any hesitancy, devoured it on my own - rich, buttery and a little bit sinful...but so good. | Roast Pork Belly, Ironbark Pumpkin, Cimi De Rapa, Pumpkin Seed Pesto & Sage |There is no denial about my love for pork belly - soft tender meat and crispy crunchy crackling. | Roast Loin of Venison, Lardo, Beetroot Puree, Crushed Parsley Root & Juniper Crumb |  And then it was time for dessert!We were still browsing the menu, when this was served...Freshly baked chocolate brownies, oh someone is playing on my sweet tooth weakness... Still curious to try at least one of the desserts, but not wanting to be too greedy, we decided to order one...|Mont Blanc| But was then also served this extra dessert!| Warm Ginger Loaf, Butterscotch Sauce & Vanilla Ice Cream | And to top it off...freshly baked madeleines! Our 'one dessert' multiplied into three - not that I'm complaining! So full, yet so happy. They say that the way to a man's heart is trough his stomach...clearly this applies to women as well.Oh Mikey, you really do know how to impress a girl!Unwavered by the special treatment (okay, maybe a teeny bit), we had a really good evening - great ambience and delicious food. I will definitely be back.The Cheekster, signing out x
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  1. Published : Monday, 18 November 2013

    Samphire and Salsify :: Merchants Tavern

    After our recent enjoyable visit to Cafe Murano, we thought we’d pop along to Angela Hartnett’s other new restaurant Merchants Tavern (shouldn’t there be an apostrophe in there?) which resides in Shoreditch. It’s a joint venture between her and the guys behind Canteen.

    It looked beautiful on the outside and the interior was equally beautiful. There was a large bar and lounge area at the front and a dining room complete with open kitchen out the back. Green leather banquette seating and comfy armchairs made for an enjoyably relaxing place to sit; perfect for our Sunday lunch visit...
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  1. They are housed in the heart of Spitalfields just a stone’s throw from the Rivington grill and Tramshed. The building is vast with 2 areas a large horse shoe bar area and then further back is the restaurant and open kitchen at the back. The restaurant layout is reminiscent of Hawksmoor Air Street, albeit a smaller version. They have similar oyster shaped booths around the room. We however were seated between the open kitchen and the waiters station which was not the most comfortable. It was that little bit tight and as every waiter came to the station regularly you felt quite harried, I wouldn’t want to sit here at a full service (it was only a third full for this soft launch). This may well be something they are testing to see whether or not it works...
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  1. Published : Tuesday, 17 December 2013

    vialaporte :: Merchants’ Tavern // Shoreditch // London

    Being somewhere between a bistro and fine dining is a bit of a strange place to be. Who are you trying to attract? Do you want to serve gutsy classics, but in a more elegant dining room? Can higher prices be justified for simple food just because of an elevated experience? We aren’t sure. And with wonderful examples of bistros and fine dining near-by, the concept of the Merchants’ Tavern might end-up confusing people.

    On the starters menu, the scallops with trompette mushrooms are nicely balanced in flavour and are well seasoned. Though is this challenging gastronomy? Not really. Similarly, the bavette isn’t a wonderful example of what it should be. As well as lacking imagination, it’s pricey and better examples can be found elsewhere...
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  1. Published : Thursday, 31 October 2013

    Saying it straight :: A Tale of Two Taverns.

    Apparently, a tavern is somewhere that serves wine and an inn is somewhere that serves beer and ale. According to Wikipedia, in the UK, the word “tavern” is no longer in popular use”. I’m not sure that the owners of the relatively new Newman Street, Berners and Merchants Taverns would agree.

    And other than the fact that it serves wine, I’m not sure that the word “tavern” gives quite the right impression of what Berners Tavern is all about. And for me, it’s all about the room. Pretty jaw-dropping, somewhat spectacular, this is a glamorous, exciting and dramatic dining space. An hotel dining room, yes, but not the drab, dull exercise in neutrality that normally greets you. A delicate and ornate carved ceiling, an eight-storey bar, drop dead gorgeous chandeliers and funky pictures covering all the walls make this a space which makes an immediate impact. If only the food could match it...
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