My friends told me that the scene at Merchants Restaurant & Bar on “Wine Wednesday” is a real hoot. Apparently, the crowd makes for great people-watching. So for our monthly girls’ night, Kournikova, Betty, Québecoise, and I decided to check it out for ourselves.
I called ahead to make reservations. However, a staffer informed me that the restaurant doesn’t take reservations on Wednesdays because it is too busy. After some prodding, I learned we could get a table if I came before 5:00 pm or after 7:00 pm. I landed a booth that afforded a bird’s eye view of the lounge.
I often go with friends on half-price wine night at Earls or Cactus Club, which draws a mostly female crowd. However, this is different for Merchants —these suited-up dudes like their discounted wine! Let’s listen to something from Flight of the Conchords for this post.
I looked up the wine list before and knew I wanted to order a bottle of Simonnet Febvre Chablis ($80, HH $40). However, the restaurant was out of this bottle. So instead, I ordered Louis Latour Macon Lugny ($70, HH $35). I found this wine light and a touch sweet. Québecoise said she enjoyed it and would order it again. However, I wasn’t sold and asked her to pick the next bottle.
Québecoise did select a superior wine – a French Sauvignon Blanc – Alain Gueneau ‘La Guiberte’ ($80, HH $40). Damn – she’s got the best taste. Kournikova said she could taste green apples. Québecoise and Betty thought the wine tasted sour because we had just sampled the last bottle, but it was so loud that I missed the full explanation. I was distracted because I overheard the scandalous conversation at the following table. I felt like I was watching a live episode of the Real Househusbands of Marda Loop.
For food, we shared the Shrimp Gyoza Dumplings ($16.95), Calamari ($15.95), Carpaccio ($22.95), Mixed Salad ($15.50), Filo Baked Brownie ($10), and the Decadent Chocolate Cake ($10).
The carpaccio was delicious! Each bite was pure beef heaven. The tenderloin was silky, tender, and flavourful. I loved the creamy mixture of truffle oil, shaved parmesan, mustard and horseradish aioli. The capers added a tart, salty bite, and the arugula was crisp and peppery. The portion was so generous too. I would get this again.
I also liked the mixed green salad. The maple pepper balsamic vinaigrette was zesty and went well with the cherry tomatoes, toasted pecans, crumbled feta cheese, and slices of cucumber. I would get this salad again too.
The gyoza and calamari were standard and not nearly as good as the carpaccio or salad. If I could do it over again, I would get a pizza or wings instead. A table over to us ordered hot wings, and the fragrance of fried chicken was intoxicating. There’s just something about deep-fried chicken that makes me weak in the knees.
When we received our bill, we were shocked at how inexpensive it was. Ah, wine Wednesday, how economical you are. And the entertainment was free! Sometimes it pays to go out midweek. Hitting the Sauce gives her friends two phat thumbs up.