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Ball jarIn a word: You receive a gold for each trade (green) district in your city. When you take an action, receive an extra gold.

The specs: #0688  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Black Jeans and Borges, Madison Magazine, Wisconsin State Journal, Best Bloody Mary, AV Club, Simple Good and Tasty, Eating Madison, Isthmus, Trip Advisor, Yelp, (Isthmus, Madison Magazine and 77 Square have all covered just cocktails as well); listing at Eat Drink Madison; official web site, Merchant on Urbanspoon

Latest Merchant news and reviews

JM ate the flatiron with buttered radishes.
Nichole ate the toast, brussels sprouts, and a cocktail.
The bill was $39 plus tip.
JM gave Merchant a B; Nichole gave Merchant a B+ (see our grading rubric).

Merchant has all the accoutrements young geeks love: a library ladder, science lab tables & stools, and grandma's wallpaper. It's 100% authentic Madison. There's even Mexican Coke!

Meat and radishesToast

After a quick perusal of the lightly stocked grocery shelves, Nichole tried a "Lexington Belle" cocktail of rum, housemade ginger syrup, and egg white. It had a faux-ringue as tall as a Norske Nook pie and tasted bracingly astringent.

A romesco, ramp, & pecorino toast was cold and mouthcutty but it sure did smell good. It's what you wish you were eating when you've raided the beer drawer before fixing dinner, when what you've actually fixed yourself is a slice of American on toasted Country Hearth with salsa from a jar and pimento-stuffed Spanish olives from the seconds bin at Woodman's. The buttery Brussels sprouts were even better than Tornado's.

JM got a balanced meal of a flatiron steak with buttered radishes. There was a lot of butter. More butter than meat. There were also radishes, but Nichole ate those.

Merchant seems to be playing a pretty deep meta-game. It may actually be a bobo pick-up bar where people who are hawt are easy to find, and expensive, hip drinks pour down the menu. In which case, it wasn't for us. But we may have gotten the wrong impression - and we recommend that you work out your own feelings about it. At least the food is pretty tasty. But maybe that's exactly what they want us to think.


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This might be a review... or perhaps it's an expose of a conspiracy. Enjoyable read either way.

I really like the place. That said, waaay to expensive. Cut their prices by $3 or so dollars per item and I would be back. But I can't afford an $8 drink with a $9 half cup of salad greens on even rare occasions.

"There were also radishes, but Nichole ate those."


I adore the cocktails at this place (the whisky sour will CHANGE YOUR LIFE), but the prices have scared me off the food. I should get over it if the Brux are that good.

@LindsayC: They are, and more. My wife will attest to the fact that I didn't shut up about them while we were eating them, and then for a little while after.

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Listen to The Corner Table podcast "Remembering Restaurants," aired December 24, 2020, where Chris and Lindsay talk with us "about the menus and memories left behind when restaurants go away."

Madison Food coverInfo about our book Madison Food: A History of Capital Cuisine is here, or read it for free thanks to the library - print & ebook.



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