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Friday, 11 May 2012

The Merchant of Bishopsgate, The City


This new ‘freehouse and kitchen’ imagines itself ‘so good, you’ll want to miss your train.’ Its TOWIE-understudy customers seemingly concur. Preferring cask ales and £15 Lamberti Blush to Liverpool Street’s rush hour cattle trucks, they gossip about hair gel and ‘Mee-chelle’ being ‘well jel.’  Do ‘Great Cocktails!’ match that boast? ‘Dunno. They’re off, ‘ announces a waitress. ’People didn’t like them...or something.’ I order Sancerre from the Enomatic dispenser instead - frisky and fresh at £7.60 a glass. Parroting various (better) rivals’ design vernacular, The Merchant’s clichéd patter feels less fresh: trite shouty slogans as art; tinny tinnitus-y house muzak; canned Spam in a display of ‘heritage’ packaged goods; and from Downton Junction’s lost luggage office, battered Edwardian suitcases sprayed white hint at the old boat trains from Harwich to the Hook of Holland and exotic destinations beyond. On a table opposite, love’s young reem, Bill and Rikki from Billericay, chew on one another’s faces while I chew over a six-for-£20 ‘grazer’ selection that includes mini burger sliders (fair) smoked salmon in cheese scones (was that ‘stones’?) and risible, rubbery ‘blackpudding scotch egg’ (the dog’s chew toy minus the squeak). Suddenly, that Spam looks inviting. The prototype for a chain, The Merchant hopes to ‘revolutionise the station pub.’ I’ll stick with The Gilbert Scott at St.Pancras, thanks. 
Lower Concourse, Liverpool Street Station www.iamthemerchant.com