Before visiting anywhere, I always do some food research and make a list of anything that I MUST try. On a few different lists, such as the Thrillest 50 Things You Must Eat Before You Die (in Nashville), the duck fat tater tots from Merchants could be found. So, this was my first stop! Here’s the breakdown:
Merchants is located right in the heart of downtown Nashville, right on Broadway. Since we were here during CMA fest, it was in the middle of the crazy crowds. This meant it was mostly packed, as people are trying to get out of the heat for a cold drink and nice meal. However, at about 4:00 on Thursday, Drew and I got a table.
There are two floors here. The first floor is what was open this time of day, and is the casual dining room. I haven’t seen it, but the second floor, meant for dinner dining, is supposed to be very upscale.
Even though we ate in the casual dining area, the interior is very clean, bright, and felt like a fancy diner. With all black and white tiles, counters, booths, and decor, it had a classic and elegant atmosphere. Since it felt very fancy inside, I was a little uncomfortable in my sweaty romper. But, hey, it was CMA fest, we we were all wearing sweaty rompers….well, the girls anyway.
Free Ranch Popcorn!
As soon as we were seated, we were given two glasses of water and the glass bottle was left at our table for refills. I really appreciate this, since Drew and I both drink a lot of water and hate waiting on refills.
Next, our waiter brought us the best popcorn I have ever tried…and I make my own homemade garlic popcorn which I always bragged was the best. Well, can’t brag about that anymore. #ifyourenotfirstyourelast
This was house-made ranch popcorn. Encrusted with that perfect salty, garlic, and herb flavor that ranch has. Just look at all that flavor! You know it is good if you can SEE the flavor. I ate every crumb of that free popcorn. It was delicious.
Duck Fat Tater Tots
Well, this is what I came here for. I was excited. We got a half order (I wasn’t even hungry after I ate the popcorn) for $5. It came with a large handful amount of tater tots that are fried in duck fat. With those come three sauces: chipotle mayo, bearnaise, and ketchup.
The tater tots were surprisingly not greasy, which is great. They were very crisp on the outside and very soft on the inside. A perfect texture for tots, in my opinion. The flavor was very one-noted, though. It literally tasted like fat. And not the bacon fat kind of deliciousness, but a more bland, dull version of fat. I guess that is what duck fat tastes like. They also needed more salt, but there was no salt to be found. So, the tots on their own were not that impressive.
The sauces were fun, though, and made the tots delicious. The sauce that I favored and dipped all of my tots (except for the two that were wasted trying the other sauces) in was the bernaise. It was so sweet, it added a perfect flavor to those savory tots.
The ketchup tasted like a good brand of store-bought ketchup. Nothing special. And the chipotle mayo tasted mostly of mayonaise, with a strong, again one-noted, chipotle heat that hit the back of your throat.
I do not think I would get these again, but I’m glad I tried them. I really don’t understand why these are on so many “must eat” types of lists.
These deviled eggs sounded great, especially since I love deviled eggs. The menu only stated that they came with pop’s sweet and spicy pickles, and they were only $5.
So disappointed. These eggs were so bland, there could not have been anything in the filling besides mayo, egg yolk, and maybe the tiniest amount of yellow mustard? Where’s the salt and pepper, people?! The paprika on the top was fine. But the pickle under each egg was AMAZING. This really was a spicy and sweet, all at once, pickle. This was probably the best pickle I have tried. Eating the pickle with the egg, in the same bite, made the egg edible. But I just ate the pickles and left the bland eggs. I don’t have calories to waste on anything bland.
After the bad experience with the eggs, we decided not to try anything else at Merchants and save room for a dinner at Mas Tacos that night.
Overall, the restaurant is very beautiful and nice. The service was professional and very good. The location is perfect, making it a nice place to drop by for drinks or snacks on days such as the ones during CMA fest. But I probably won’t be back.