Shoreditch has a new gourmet eatery, Merchants Tavern. This place is a collaboration between Michelin starred Angela Hartnett from Murano (posh Italian in Mayfair) and some local boys from Canteen (covert dining hall in a school). First impressions from outside and as you enter this polished converted warehouse and apothecary are impressive, but there is something amiss. This place is lacking that Shoreditch creative cool vibe that you escape central London for. We had just passed a heavily guarded private party in some graffitified marquis with pumping beats around the corner, which was more fitting to this area and more alluring. My friends felt it was more New York East side, probably because of the cavernous space, brick walls and slick detailing. The service was also a little up and down, forgotten ingredients in specials, no bread before appetiser, although we did get a history lesson on ‘Treviso’ from a characterful waiter.
The food was in a word good but not wondrous. There is a good mix of gourmet favourites, scallops, duck, venison etc all in slightly unusual combinations and presented perfectly. My starter of quail with nutty hazelnuts and fois gras hit the mark. My main of mallard was a little on the bijou side but crisped to perfection. My friend who is connoisseur of all things carbohydrate was more than satisfied by the velvety creamy mash. Fish dishes were also a bit small but there was finely roasted piece of bright white sea brill. Desserts were slightly underwhelming. All in all, the food ticked all the boxes but did not make me whoop with delight which I would expect to do at £65/ head. Would I go back? maybe after the initial teething problems settle and with a big group.