There's something instantly welcoming and cosy as you walk into Merchants Tavern. Housed in a Victorian warehouse in the very heart of Shoreditch, the massive space somehow manages to retain a friendly, comforting vibe. This is no doubt helped by the amiable and attentive staff who look after the bar and restaurant areas. The hardwood floors, stylish leather booths and bare brick walls give the place a relaxed but classy feel. All-in-all, the collaboration between legend Angela Hartnett, partner and head chef Neil Borthwick, and Canteen founders, Dominic Lake and Patrick Clayton Malone, feels like an instant winner.
The restaurant is separated into two areas. In the bar you can relax with a drink whilst enjoying a selection of nibbles from their snack menu. A light lunch menu is also available throughout the day.
In the main dining room the menu is small yet well refined, with only five or six options for each course, in addition to a selection of sharing dishes. The food is a modern twist on some old-fashioned British dishes with a hint of European flavour permeating throughout. Some more quirky options make an appearance from time-to-time, such as pig's trotters on toast, which are definitely worth trying. Prices remain mid-range and reasonable.
You could argue Merchants Tavern doesn't fall squarely into the 'British' category, but the style and feel of the restaurant definitely does. While its menu may venture across the Channel on occasion, it's up there with the 'Best of British' Shoreditch has to offer.
Last reviewed on October 20th , 2014
Hints and tips
- What will it cost?
Bar nibbles are around £3 to £5.
Main courses in the restaurant area range from £12 to £24.
- Nearest tube
Old Street, or alternatively Shoreditch High Street Overground station.
- Cocktail menu
The bar offers an extensive cocktail menu with weekly specials. Enjoy with your meal, or just set up camp in the bar.
- LondonEater (2010)
Pizza East is antithesis, but in a good way. The puffed-up dough (measuring ten inches in diameter, roughly) was crispy, crackling and dry, stoney rather than juicy, with the semolina grains jumping off the base as I worked my way into the pizza.