Housed in the former Merchants Hotel, built in 1892, the restaurant retains many of the hotel's original fireplaces, wainscoting, and custom sconces. On the first floor, there's a casual bar–grill atmosphere and menu on the first floor, while the second floor features formal dining in a room with hardwood floors, brick walls, and ceiling fans. The upstairs menu includes traditional meats: roasted chicken and pork loin, blackened tilefish, steak and short ribs.
Oct 19, 2014
My spouse and I dined at Merchant’s on the Fourth of July holiday in July 2014. We made our reservation on-line using the Open Table reservation system. The restaurant honored our booking as promised even though it was filled to capacity when we arrived. The restaurant reconfirmed our reservation two days prior. On the telephone, the reservationist referred to the restaurant as “Downtown” Merchant’s, which makes it sound as if they have another
location elsewhere. When we planned our trip to Nashville for the holiday weekend, we did not realize that our top-choice restaurants (like Catbird Seat and Rolf & Daughters) were closed. In addition, many restaurants that were open for business before and after the regular holiday were not open on the Fourth itself. Fortunately, Merchant’s was open, and it was a winning experience! The downstairs bistro at Merchant’s is open daily for lunch and dinner, but the upstairs fine-dining venue is open daily for dinner only. Merchant’s is located on the corner of Broadway and Fourth Avenue. The city closed those streets to vehicles during the Let Freedom Sing! Celebration, so they were pedestrian only. Broadway was the main venue for the festivities, with food and souvenir stalls lining the blocks that led to the main stage area, where musical acts performed throughout the day. We were able to leave our dinner at Merchant’s and become an immediate part of the party. Even on a regular night, the Merchant’s location is fantastic because all of the honky-tonks surround it. Merchant’s is located in a restored building from the 1800s that functioned as a pharmacy and drug company, and then later as a hotel. Famous country singers like Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton stayed there. Merchant’s restaurant has two parts. The downstairs bistro serves a more casual menu, and the space features a vibrant bar scene where bartenders serve hand-crafted cocktails at the expansive marble bar and counter. The black-and-white downstairs space offers both booth and table seating. A covered alleyway patio on Broadway offers outdoor dining. The restaurant offers valet parking, and it displays a thoughtful sign that invites guests to enjoy a complimentary non-alcoholic beverage at the bar while they wait for their car. Both dining levels contain bathrooms, and an elevator allows patrons to move between the floors. The upstairs space at Merchant’s features a fine-dining menu. The execution of flavors of all of our dishes proved a bit intense on the night we dined, but we thought that was perhaps because the “second string” staff was working in the kitchen that holiday evening and not as adept at seasoning as the regular staff. We shared a pork-belly lettuce wrap-type appetizer, a beet salad, and two entrees: black scallop risotto and lamb. We passed on dessert, although the options sounded wonderful! Because the portions are large, we were full after our three courses. We also could not resist the delicious bread and butter that accompanied our meal. We truly enjoyed our meal at Merchant’s, and we think that it deserves higher praise and more publicity than it gets. The food was delicious, using inventive and creative ingredients and presentation, the decor / atmosphere upstairs was peaceful, and the service was good.