The decor is in the French bistro style and the menu is there to match, although things had a slightly curious feel to them and the price-point didn’t seem quite right. £23.95 for two courses and £27.95 for three? I was not sure, but given that it was only me and table of tourists in the place there was no escape.
I ordered the asparagus starter, then asked the waitress for a verdict on whether I should order the lamb or the steak. When she said “the salmon” I had a suspicion we were in for an interesting ride. And so it proved.
We’re in asparagus season at the moment so I was looking forward to some nicely fresh, local stems. They were duly forthcoming but presented as part of an inelegant looking and very unbalanced dish. The sharp citrus dressing was entirely unappealing. It unpleasantly dominated the dish and showed little respect for the freshness of the central ingredient. Poor show.
The lamb shank was delicious; a top ingredient prepared very well. But the mash had practically a whole boiled tattie lurking in the middle and the broccoli…well it was yellowed at the edges so I sent it back. They returned with…the same thing topped with butter. Yellowing broccoli is not good and being served it twice is just plain wrong. The waitress poured me an extra glass of wine in recompense.
I gave the coffee a try. It was poor. This wasn’t a surprise. It was accompanied by a couple of toffees from a box of Cadbury’s Roses. This was the final cherry on the top of a hugely poor performance.
With my dissatisfaction obvious, when the bill arrived the waitress suggested I might not want to pay the 10% already added for service. I was in quite the contrary mindset. Although they hadn’t exactly covered themselves in glory, I felt rather sorry for the waitresses, so was happy to make sure they got due recognition. I saw fit to suggest to them that they might consider seeking alternative employment as I strongly feared for the future of their current business.
So overall, I think it’s time for Merchant’s to move on. It has gone decidedly stale, rather like their broccoli. The standard of the cooking is far from restaurant quality and the whole place feels trapped in a bygone era. It certainly represents the poorest value of any place we’ve visited in Edinburgh, so we’d strongly caution you against a visit.
Blythe scores Merchant’s
1.5/5 for food
2.5/5 for presentation
3/5 for setting
2/5 for service
giving an overall 9/20
I ate: baked asparagus with parma ham; lamb shank
I drank: white and red wines, water, coffee
I wore: black shoes
Total bill: £37