In an historic corner building on Slater Street, the two guys behind the recent success of The Shipping Forecast have decided to double up on providing quality venues to the area, opening The Merchant back in April of last year.
Here’s where we should probably come up with some sort of ‘merchant sailor’ pun to combine the names of their two venues, but we’re too busy salivating at their amazing menu, so we’ll get straight onto spilling the beans on the place that filled the big shoes that were left when Mello Mello closed.
While the interior is more stripped back than Ed Sheeran covering The Beatles, it actually offers a style that really works, unlike Ed Sheeran covering The Beatles. The paint-chipped walls and wooden furniture offer an authentically storied feel, while the array of hanging plants mix up the style a little and provide an interesting visual touch.
What really sets The Merchant apart though, is the way it absolutely smashes it out the park on the three key features we look for most in the city; food, drink and music. As well as its own stellar menu including a range of burgers, pies and the gem that is Nightcrawler pizza, The Merchant also employs a really innovative food service model of having different food vendors take up residency in their beer garden for a time.
While we’re used to seeing resident musicians – which The Merchant also does well, more on that later – we’re less familiar with the food being done on a residency. This obviously comes with somewhat of a risk element – you may replace a food option that everyone loves with one that goes down about as well as a Piers Morgan local book signing. Thankfully, they have good enough taste that every new food option at Felicity’s Kitchen seems more exciting than the last; so you’ll never get bored of their menu.
As for the drinks, they also offer a range it’ll take a while to fully sample – and we’re sure a few have tried – with over 50 craft beer options and a range of gins that are becoming a firm favourite. As if that wasn’t tempting enough, there are also rumours of a 2 for 1 gin offer at various points in the week.
All of these options can be enjoyed either inside the bar or out in The Merchant’s beer garden, a feature that the owners added by buying out an adjacent property and knocking part of it down to create the great outdoor space it now enjoys. It’s this level of investment that shows the management recognise the potential that area of town has, something they’re a big part of with their two establishments.
As for the aforementioned music options, The Merchant has also developed a reputation for some of the best DJ sets in town, with residencies by everyone from Chibuku to Circus, as well as visits from No Fakin DJs and Jungle. This level of quality options provides some cracking nights out for those who want to feast their ears as well as their taste buds.
So, all in all, we’d say whether you’re looking for a food merchant, drinks merchant or music merchant, The Merchant is onto a winner, and there are few better places to go and enjoy a night out in the city.