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The Merchant

I'm looking for reviews of dinner at The Merchant Kitchen & Drinks downtown. Who's been?

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  1. I stopped in last night for a couple of beers and a burger at the bar. The bar was completely packed at 5:15pm on a Monday night. I was shocked given that it was a Monday and they just opened. But word has gotten out apparently. The space is very nice. The woman next to me had a cocktail (a Manhattan) and said it was very well made.

    As for the burger, it was very good. Solid B/B+. The beef had a nice beefy taste and it was cooked a perfect medium rare. On the downside, the bacon was very chewy like it was made in the morning (or even the day before) and was sitting around all day. Also there was a bit too much of the peppercorn sauce. Bun is from Iggy's. I would definitely order it again but I would have them put the sauce and bacon on the side. I would not rate this burger better than JM Curley (how many burgers in town are?) but it is still a very good burger. I believe it was $14.

    One thing I will say is that I think that many of the tap beers were about a dollar more than they should be. But not a deal breaker especially if they keep the beer list interesting and the tap lines fresh which I fully expect them to do. Bartender was slammed but still found time to introduce himself to me and talk to me for a few minutes.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Gordough

      Thanks Gordough. Do you think this would be a better dinner location than JM Curley if I have a large group that includes people in their 60s and 70s?

      1. re: MeganLimBlair

        JM Curley is on the smaller side and getting seated there with a large group could be an issue. It depends on the person and how adventurous they are but I don't have many 70 year olds in my life who would like the atmosphere at JM Curley. Not saying your party won't enjoy it there but most of the crowd I see in there is much younger. I also cannot comment on the rest of the food at The Merchant as I only had the burger. But based purely on the space alone, I think The Merchant might be a better option for a larger group with diners in their 60s and 70s.

        1. re: Gordough

          agree with gourdough- depending on your size, and when this is, i think your better option would be to try and reserve a table, or book out, Bogie's Place, the steakhouse inside JM Curley. Still great food, probably a bit more appealing to a diverse crowd in terms of food preferences, and the curtain they have does wonders for blocking out the noise of the outside room.

    2. I went Monday as well and sat for dinner. They're definitely still working out a few kinks (had an issue with our order) but were quite apologetic and comped us a salad while we waited.

      I thought the food was very good. I had the burger (and echo Gordough's sentiments) and my DC really enjoyed his chicken. I also enjoyed my cocktail and they had a good looking wine and beer list.

      I would 100% go here over JMC with older family members. JMC gets very crowded and very loud, whereas Merchant takes reservations and has plenty of space. Yes, the bar was crowded when we were there, but the tables are well spaced out and weren't packed.

      1. Nice room, very brasserie-like in feel, though the dining room is a bit dimmer and flatter than some similar spaces. Good-looking private dining room on first floor; basement private room looks a bit chumpier.

        Strong first impression of the kitchen, including dessert. Bartending is solid if a bit below the level of the top-tier craft places. They appear to be gearing up (justifiably, I expect) for some high-volume after-work trade, so the specialty cocktails have been kept fairly simple. Nice beer selection, 30+ taps going.


        3 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Any particular dishes that you would recommend?

          1. re: MeganLimBlair

            Purposely did not disclose for reasons of anonymity; they've only been open since Friday.


            1. re: MC Slim JB

              Glad to hear this place looks promising, but even more impressed by the use of chumpier.

        2. Stopped by yesterday after the Mass Farmers market cocktail event at the W. Ordered 2 cocktails (Newbury OF and a regular OF) First round was a bit on the sweet side but the regular OF was perfect. My friend had two beers from a very good beer list.

          Ordered the burger. Cooked perfectly medium rare, nice bun. The aioli on the burger was tasty, but I think it was laid on a bit too heavy for my liking. Overall though, very good burger that I would order again.

          Service was good, the bar area was pretty much full on a Saturday afternoon, but dining area empty for the most part, which is expected in that neighborhood. Look forward to going back and trying out more of the menu.

          1. Holy moly, is this place _loud_. A few coworkers and I met for drinks and dinner there last week, and though our party varied between 4 and 8 over the course of the night, even at the smaller end we couldn't hear each other speak without leaning into the center of the table and raising our voices. At the end of the night, exiting onto the street felt like mercy.

            As for the food: 'sok. My wife had "pork two ways," and gave the two ways a 10 and a 5. My roast chicken was somewhere around a 7, with the skin over-spiced and -salted (come on, people, crackling chicken skin is an end unto itself!) but the bird cooked very well at least. Jumbo shrimp were priced like Island Creek but not sized like it, and one little cup of cocktail sauce for, ahem, twelve shrimp seemed like an oversight. Skip the pate.

            That said, we were probably over-thinking our order, as the burgers looked very good from our vantage point as they streamed past our table.

            1. Popped in for lunch and sat there frowning at the menu for 30 minutes wondering what the heck to order. Incredibly boring menu which my DC described as: "It's a worst hits collection of all the most boring stuff at ESK that nobody orders." I was highly offended by the two tiny burnt slivers of CRUST that accompanied the pate. The bread was totally unusable. I don't know how that even gets plated. And a comically small amount that, even if it actually had been a proper slice (that wasn't burnt), still would not have been sufficient for the portion of pate. This is a general pet peeve of mine when it comes to charcuterie - the bread is always burnt, not enough, slathered in butter, etc. C'mon, this is toast, get it right man. (/rant) The frizzy frisee was so watery we had to send it back. Nice selection of beer which I enjoyed before moving on to a second redeeming lunch.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Nab

                Completely agree with this review based on 3 visits. Not a lot on this menu jumps out and price/deliciousness/portion(tiny) ratios are way off for most of the dishes. Unfortunate.

                The burger, however, is really good and were one to stick to the raw bar, burger, mussells, and their excellent draft list(trillium!) you could have a really enjoyable meal.

              2. Visited Merchant on a Sunday early afternoon and we had the place almost entirely to ourselves (go at this time and you'll have no noise complaints). We ordered the grilled flatbread, which was pretty good (although, oddly, it's categorized under "sandwiches" on the menu, even though it's a flatbread).

                First impressions/what I learned:
                --the decor reminds me of Eastern Standard (which isn't necessarily a bad thing)
                --they have two rooms for private dining (which is likely a great idea for appealing to businesses in the downtown area)
                --in the coming weeks they plan to start serving a brunch menu (definitely on Sundays; maybe also Saturdays? ...I don't remember)
                --beer list is solid. Someone here mentioned that the beer prices are high, but I don't think it's overpriced when compared to other similar bars in Downtown Crossing (specifically: Stoddard's and JM Curley)

                Overall, I liked it. It's a nice addition to an area that didn't have much to offer as recently as 3 or 4 years ago.

                1. A damning 1 star from Devra First in today's Globe. If Chef Matt is the same tall, Maori -ear-plug guy who was at Tremont 647 years ago, I feel bad for him, such a nice guy.

                  1 Reply