A Winter’s Date at Merchants Tavern
Already a ye olde in London’s lusty restaurant scene, this establishment is an excellent choice for a wintery date. Braving the wind, rain and rush hour, we arrive at what sounds like the set to a historical London period drama complete with steamy windows, glowing table lamps and leather cocktail menus. Like Sherlock and Watson, an inseparable couple, we walk into the warmth of The Merchants Tavern.
Moody lighting fills this large Victorian warehouse in the heart of Shoreditch and a DJ commands one end of the bar area with a plinky jazz and base mix (and I swear I also catch the whispering notes of panpipes).
Surprisingly easy to book and only half full on a Tuesday evening, we both take a tall stool at the bar and order a quick cocktail before heading over to the dining area. Scanning the drinks menu for key aphrodisiac ingredients to our desired aperitif, I try the spicy ‘Apothika’. £8.50 worth of Havana Blanco, fresh pineapple juice, chili and ginger reduction and Lillet Blanc – a very tasty smack on the tongue. I order another.
As the restaurant begins to fill up, a very polite hostess takes our coats and directs us to our table. The menu is confident and allows for sharing a variety of dishes including the pollock, pumpkin tortelli and pork belly. (Not everything on the menu begins with a ‘p’, although I can also throw in a couple of pies, whole plaice or the pigs trotters on toast!)
I do wish I had tried their oysters and I wish I could remember how good it all tasted. Perhaps one too may cocktails or just the perfect environment to get lost in each others company.
Smart and sincere – The Merchants Tavern is the perfect backdrop for a winter’s date.
Favourite moment: talking and laughing the night away without distraction.