This is one of those blog post that I perhaps should have written at the time.
You see three weekends ago my sister in law and niece took me to City Merchant for dinner and I really enjoyed it…..I just can’t really remember why.
Now there is a REALLY good reason for this, my dad came to visit for a few days, and when my dad comes to visit we eat out heaps. So the meal out at City Merchant was probably now about 15 eaten out meals ago.
But I did really really enjoy it so I wanted to make sure I got something on the blog about them. However don’t be surprised if this isn’t perhaps as wordy and descriptive as my regular reviews.
Located in Merchant City (unsurprisingly :-p) City Merchant is a warm, friendly, welcoming restaurant – the fishing paraphernalia (including plastic fish) on the walls, the dark wood panelling and the pretty colourful stained glass windows all added to the cosy tavern vibe that the restaurant has. Word of warning tho the minute you walk through the door the smell of fish is really overpowering at first until you get used to it. I only mention it because with MrG allergy this is always something I am aware of and it is super fishy at first.
Staff wise, they were on the whole good – chatty & friendly. When ordering I asked if it was possible for me to order a single oyster because I’d never had one before, which they sorted out without problem. Although towards the end of the meal I did feel like some of the waiting staff were watching us constantly, waiting for us to leave because we were one of the last in the restaurant which is always a little off putting. A minor niggle.
So let’s talk about food!
The menu here might offer ‘other’ dishes, but don’t be fooled this is a restaurant very much with fish at its heart. I thought the menu was interesting and was seriously tempted by quite a few dishes.
As always, if there is scallops on the menu I very rarely look past them, and as you would expect here there is indeed a scallop dish. This was described as Seared Shetland Scallops served with crispy breaded ham hough, celeriac puree, and truffled Madeira jus.
The 3 plump scallops were seared to utter perfection…in fact I am not sure I have had a better one. The outside was gloriously caramelised with gorgeously toasty brown edges, and the inside were delicate and soft. They truly were excellent. The little ham hock croquettes were packed full of smoky and salty ham hock, which were very generous in size for a starter. Although I think they had been overcooked just a tad, because the coating was very very dark and a bit on the bitter side. This didn’t ruin the dish for me, I still scoffed the lot, but at £10.95 for a starter I thought it was worth mentioning.
So my oyster which was served Hot with Whisky butter & skirlie crumb – honestly I didn’t get it at all! I neither liked nor disliked it….it was a slightly odd texture, and that is probably the most notable think I can think to say about it. This is no reflection on the restaurant at all, as I had never had them before. I doubt very much I would ever order an oyster again, having said that I could happily eat it if it was placed in front of me. I found the whole experience a bit meh!
Next we moved on to the main event – lobster!
I was out with the girls with MrG’s credit card so I was feeling super lush, and decided that the whole grilled lobster was just what the doctor called ordered.
It was absolutely beautiful, and had a fair amount of succulent moist meat. And even though I am normally not a fan of fighting with my food at the table I found the claws easy to crack and remove the tasty claws, which are surely the best bit! This tasty monster from the sea came served with a simple garlic butter sauce which was light and creamy, and a great pairing with the flavourful lobster meat.
Sides wise, we shared some Hand Cut Rooster Chips and Cauliflower Mornay – the chips were good, a nice big portion of large fluffy golden chunks of potato…..a perfectly fine chips. The cauliflower mornay though was a revelation, the tender florets came bathing in a glossy decedent cheese sauce that was beautifully seasoned. It was fantastic, and possibly my favourite part of the entire meal.
I managed to squeeze in a cheeky dessert, and decided to go for the Homemade Chocolate Brownie City Merchant style with Ferrero Rocher ice cream – now I have to be honest here I don’t really remember a whole lot about this dish at all. I do remember it wasn’t what I expected it to be, and was more like a slice of chocolate cake than a brownie but that’s about it. At this point I had quaffed my way through half a bottle of the most glorious red wine I have ever drunk so that could explain why I have no real lasting impression of it.. May have been a teeny tiny bit squiffy!
Price wise for three of us our bill came to £185.10 – disclaimer tho this included said bottle of extraordinary red wine at £59.50…it really was glorious! So my food bill came to £55.30…I would say that was a fair price given that scallops and lobster are not cheap ingredients. It was certainly on the higher side of a fair price but I don’t think it was over priced.
All in all I enjoyed my girls night at City Merchant, the scallops and lobster were both delicious and I enjoyed them hugely. The wine was STUNNING! And the vibe was really lovely – I would definitely go back to this fish restaurant if the opportunity arose in the future.