Arguably one of the most anticipated openings of the summer/fall season here in Lawrence was Merchants Pub & Plate. I for one was overly eager to set foot in this new gastropub. What's not exciting about 30 beers on tap, right? Once their doors swung open to the public on September 21st, I made a beeline for a table.
We strolled in around 5:30pm for an early dinner and some brewskies. Seated on the upper tier, we had a superb view of the bustling restaurant below. I couldn't help but obsessively observe the variety of dishes and drinks being served to different tables. My stomach was growing impatient, and I wasn't even hungry.
Merchants does, indeed, have 30 beautiful beers on tap. Whether this is a blessing or a curse is up to you (I can't make decisions for the life of me...but this sure was the most blissful state of indecision I've ever experienced). After changing my mind five times, and asking the waiter for advice, I decided on a Weston Porter (based out of Missouri), and didn't look back. Not in the mood for beer, my partner opted for a mixed drink.
Now, for the menu: clean layout, and lots of local ingredients. The menu items are categorized by: Share, Soups, Greens, Between Bread, Veg, and Mains. Additionally, they offer a separate Snack menu upon request (smaller plates and prices). Since it was an early dinner, we decided to focus on a few smaller dishes to share. Ultimately, we went with the Pub Picnic, Yam Fries and Sweet Corn Arancini.
You know what I'm going to say next, don't you? The food was delicious. Well,... it was! Our trifecta of dishes balanced out with savory (Pub Picnic and Sweet Corn Arancini) and sweet (Yam Fries). My favorite was the Sweet Corn Arancini, which caught me off guard with its crisp fried outer shell and sweet hot goodness inside (the sauce was kickin', to boot). This is an excellent way to experience a gastropub, since it's best to enjoy beers with something to nibble on.
Our light dinner at Merchants, which included two drinks and three dishes, cost us $59.02, including tip. Our 'tasting' of Merchants was fun! So fun, in fact, we've since been back for round two. I hope you've had a chance to make it down to Merchants and take in the ambiance, and the libations.