One lazy warm weekend, J and I were strolling past the Kingston Foreshore looking for lunch. We ended up at The Merchant Café, mainly because we knew they made iced coffees and shakes, and we were after something cold to drink. We were lucky enough to grab the last popular outdoor table underneath the shade of an umbrella. We started off with an iced coffee and mocha frappe (unsure of price). Both were served in large tall glasses so there was no scrimping on drinks. My only complaint is that the mocha didn’t have enough chocolate in it. J asked for whipped cream on top of his iced coffee. He found the milk wasn’t cold enough and we asked for another one to be made. The second one came out a bit colder but not by much. We thought that strange given its meant to be an ‘iced’ coffee and there was ice cream in it yet it was still not cod enough. He was really disappointed with it.
The Thai salad with duck leg (mid to high $20’s) sounded great though I think it would have been better served cold (maybe because it was such a hot day?) There was plenty of vermicelli, vegetables and coriander in the salad which was topped with peanuts. The salad was made slightly sour from fish sauce and lemon juice giving the dish one element of the classic Thai flavours. However, ti was missing everything else – salty, sweet, bitter and spicy. The duck leg was very meaty and plentiful. It had a very strong taste of duck as well but this wasn’t too bad once I’d torn it apart and mixed it throughout the noodle salad.
J ordered the prawn and chorizo paella (mid to high $20’s) which had olives, carrot and tomato in it. We were both surprised to see chopped coriander stems on top of the paella, especially Jarrett who has an enormous dislike for coriander. He was able to pick off the stems but could still taste a bit of the coriander in it. There were also chopped peanuts sprinkled on top? I think there must have been a mistake using the garnishes in my Thai salad. The paella came in a decent portion, but we found the rice was too gluggy.
When we paid the bill, we asked whether the coriander in the paella was intentional. Everyone denied putting coriander and peanuts in the dish, so it must’ve been an honest mistake from the person garnishing my Thai salad and putting the same garnishes on the paella. All in all, we found The Merchant to be hit and miss. I know J will never return as he disliked both his food and drink. Although my Thai salad didn’t have the other Thai elements to make it fantastic, I still finished it off. The frappe wasn’t the best, but it was icy cold. Staff were pleasant, however it wasn’t easy to grab their attention, and there were no apologies for the warm iced chocolate or the mistake with the coriander and peanuts in the paella. I don’t think we’ll be going back anytime soon especially since there are so many other places on the Foreshore to choose from.
Value for money 6/10
FPJ score 16/30
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