The Merchant of Finesse

This chic bar/restaurant offers tasty bites and carefully crafted cocktails

This urban outfitter stocks the goods to gratify hunger and thirst. This Merchant does it all: brunch, lunch, dinner, late night, cocktails, carryout—even a gourmet grocery. Dimly lit and modishly downtown, here diners and drinkers view an open kitchen or the world outside through big windows. The long bar stocks the odd brands that will please the persnickety and all cocktails are carefully crafted. Fresh food offerings encourage sharing or snacking—cheese, hummus and meat platters; small plates, toasts and pressed sandwiches. But dinner adds hearty entrees that vary seasonally. Merchant is a modern American makeover of the venerable European café.

PHOTO: Merchant’s elevated bar cuisine includes mussels with olives, fennel and a chili-white wine broth paired with toasted, cheese-topped sourdough. Order a mint julep with it, made with Fighting Cock bourbon, cane sugar, mint and shaved ice.

Merchant, 121 S. Pinckney St. 259-9799. merchantmadison.com

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