Brasserie style Merchant near Boston’s Downtown Crossing surprises for a few reasons. First of all, when I lived in the Boston area now close to ten years ago, I never spent time near Downtown Crossing, a central part of Boston that has some stores and office buildings, but very few great restaurants worth mentioning. So, when I learned about Merchant’s location, I wasn’t expecting much.
When you first walk in, you’re greeted with a standard brasserie style venue with a classic Boston flare, which was only surpassed by the Irish waiter, who was gracious and let’s just say, fit right in.
When I saw that they had fresh oysters on the menu, I immediately relaxed and knew the evening was going to be okay. After oysters, we moved onto the Maine mussels, which is served in a green curry with sake. Also a “must order” is the Dayboat Tuna Sashimi, something you wouldn’t expect from a Boston brasserie. The chef services the dish with avocado mousse and crispy tempura. They also do a delicious homemade country pate with whole grain mustard, carrot pickles (yes really), and of course, grilled country toast, for a l’il old world in a somewhat modern style brasserie.
Beets seemed to be on nearly every New England menu this summer. The Merchant’s beet salad was fresh and didn’t disappoint. Like all their other dishes, they seemed to once again nail it on presentation.
For unusual but delicious pasta dishes, try the homemade asparagus pasta with shrimp, asparagus and chorizo or the housemade Oxtail ravioli (YUM!!), which is served with spring vegetables and wild mushrooms in a red wine reduction sauce. And…if you’re a scallops lover….note the grapefruit and cauliflower addition! It was a perfect blend, so much so we were dreaming of the dish two days later.
Another “wow” for the menu: a Croque Madame (smoked ham, gruyere cheese, bechemel and a fried egg — not something I’ve ever seen on an American restaurant menu). Or, for mains, the olive oil poached sea trout, the slow roasted chicken or fish and chips. They also have a crispy duck ‘orange served with sweet and sour cabbage, a wild mushroom risotto with fontina, herbs and truffle honey, braised beef with parsnip puree, smoked tongue and shiitake confit and pork served two ways — roasted and glazed, with turnips, citrus and ramps.
More for the surprise list. For dessert, they offered an elderflower Panna cotta with sour cherries. I looked over at Anthony and he had a surreal smile on his face as he took another bite of the beautifully presented panna cotta. He looked down at the dish and then up at me and said, “THIS excites my palate.” It’s not the type of thing he says so it also surprised me. Despite the fact that were exceptionally full from our savory delights we sampled the previous two hours, we couldn’t resist putting a serious dent one of the best desserts we’ve had in awhile.
The other desserts were out of this world as well. As always, we ordered the au chocolate option.
Also worth mentioning is their unusual tea selection–Rooibos, Herbal Chai Spice, English Breakfast, Lemon Chamomile, Crimson Berry & Moroccan Mint.
Two thumbs up! While it isn’t exactly on the beaten path (meaning, it’s not next to Faneuil Hall, the North End, Newbury Street, the trendy South End or Harvard Square), The Merchant is a definitely must visit if you happen to be a foodie! It WILL surprise and excite your palette!
60 Franklin Street
Boston, MA 02110
Photo credit of inside of brasserie by: Josh Raab, InsideOutImages. All food photos Renee Blodgett.
Note: we were hosted but all opinions expressed are entirely my own.