Merchants Tavern

Words by Ian Cameron on 23-Oct-2013

Address: 36 Charlotte Road, London, EC2A 3PG , United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)207 060 5335
Website: view Merchants Tavern’s website
Door: Open door/walk-ins
Style: Restaurant bar
Food: Set menu
Established: 2013


This modern brasserie and bar comes from Angela Hartnett, a Gordon Ramsay protégé who has made her own name after cutting the apron strings. The presence of an award-winning chef in Shoreditch perhaps indicates the once cutting-edge area has come of age - even more so when you consider it has taken over a space occupied by Cantaloupe, a bar which epitomised the first generation of Shoreditch cool. By day, factory-style roof windows allow light to stream in over cleverly faded surroundings, as if it's been here for years. By night, it's low lit and atmospheric.

An island bar is the home for a small range of big-flavoured, serious drinks - though each simply constructed and well executed. House twists on classics include an armagnac, cognac and rum Old Fashioned, while other original but similarly spirituous drinks are not afraid of forward flavours, from amaro to herbal flavours, Campari and absinthe (all drinks £8.50-12). To that end it's refreshing to see a determined direction for the drinks rather than, as is common with chef-run restaurant bars, lack-lustre crowd-pleasers.