This review is taken from the 2010 edition.
Having reached a quarter of a century Merchants doesn't want for staying power in Edinburgh's changeable restaurant scene. So the décor is functional rather than flashy, with plain burgundy coloured walls, the occasional framed print and timeless bistro style wooden tables and chairs? There's glitz elsewhere. The menu reads as if 20 years of culinary evolution never happened, following a 1980s formula of protein plus veg and a heavy cream-based sauce for most dishes. Perhaps this is the secret to its success: the familiarity of the menu, combined with eager-to-please service, makes for a pleasantly relaxed dinner. It is therefore easier to forgive the overcooked duck breast, undercooked broccoli, floury sticky toffee pudding and even the burnt lamb chops. In fairness smoked salmon and prawn gateau is better, testament to some decent quality salmon, fresh-tasting and delicately smoked. Similarly, the wine list might not be full of excitement but it is reasonably priced with a couple of particular bargains.
- High point: After 25 years this will seem comfortingly familiar to some people …
- Low point: … and rather dated to others
- Private dining: N
- Provides: Gluten-free options, Children's portions, Children's high chairs, Wheelchair access, Pre-theatre menu
- Music on stereo: Forgettable pop songs from the past 20 years
- Capacity: 86
- Largest group: 108
- Open since: 1985
- Number of wines sold by the glass: 4
- House wine: £13.95 per bottle