The Merchant, in the thrumming belly of Liverpool Street Station, has possibly the oddest location for a new bar ever, housed in Octagon Arcade where downtrodden Upper Crust and Burger King used to be. Nor does it resemble a station pub (everybody’s been into infested Hamilton House at the top of Liverpool Street, after all) – but rather a move towards giving commuters and City drinkers alike somewhere trendy and fun to pass the hours before the last train home.
It’s been open barely a month, and already the pub is heaving at the seams. Leaving its peculiar location aside, it’s not hard to see why: The Merchant is serving up upmarket pub food (sausage and mash, fish and chips, scotch egg) for decent non-station prices. There’s a small selection of steak, plus a lengthy bar and ‘light snacks’ menu.
The wine list is nothing to write home about – excepting the fact that a small glass of wine will set you back only £3, or £4 for a medium glass. There’s the usual on draught, a pretentious selection of bottled continental beers and cask ales, which change every week – all under £4 a pint, mercifully.
The pub itself is spacious, all dark wood stain furniture and exposed brickwork. There’s even old luggage racks and suitcases from old carriages on the walls, just in case you forgot you’re actually INSIDE A TRAIN STATION. These guys aren’t just hoping for the oh-god-missed-my-train types, they’re hoping for the City masses. Oh, and those slightly onerous adverts you’ll have seen – ‘I am the Merchant’ – only further emphasise the idiosyncratic nature of this new watering hole. Next job is persuading a mate that you’re not meeting at next-door McDonald’s for a drink.
The Merchant of Bishopsgate
Liverpool Street Station