My mother recently came into town for a visit. Translation: She took me out to dinner wherever my heart desired. A local restaurant called Merchant has been receiving rave reviews, particularly for its specialty cocktails. Naturally, I had to give the place a taste test.
The ambience of the restaurant struck me immediately. Located at 121 South Pinckney Street, the restaurant at first seems a bit intimidating as the sign and décor creates a chic, upscale look. However, once you walk inside, the restaurant is actually quite casual comfortable and the staff surprisingly welcoming. Dimly lit with quaint chandeliers and intimate tables for smaller groups, the place was perfect for my mother and I to catch up over a drink.
Although I ventured to Merchant to try some of its infamous cocktails (there’s nothing like a good gin and tonic), my mother’s insatiable sweet tooth got us both checking out the dessert menu. I noticed a Door County cherry cobbler with a pistachio crumble on the menu and my taste buds were intrigued. Now, I’m not typically one for cherry pie. It’s usually made with maraschino cherries which have always been far too sweet for my palate and don’t quite taste like the Door County cherries which I love to snack on. But Door County cherries are another story. I proposed we order the cherry cobbler and of course, my mother obliged to the dessert proposal as cherry pie is her favorite dessert.
We decided to split the cobbler, which I realized was a huge blunder after taking the first bite. My taste buds burst with delight and it became clear we should have ordered two. For someone who thought she hated cherry pie, this was by far the best pie, nay the best dessert I had ever tasted in my life. Balancing the sweetness of the cherries and brown sugar, the pistachio crumble undoubtedly made the cobbler the perfect concoction that it was with its nutty, salty bite. The dollop of vanilla ice cream on top added a cool, creamy texture to the crunchy crumble, and each bite was more delicious than the last.
Coming in at $8, this cobbler is well worth the price. Over spring break, I attempted to recreate this blissful creation with relative success. Delicious, yes, but not quite on par with Merchant’s.
Merchant changes its menu depending on what is in season and locally available, so this particular dessert is not always prepared for its patrons. If this is a make or break dish for you, be sure to call before venturing to the restaurant. In the event that Merchant isn’t serving its cherry cobbler, it does serve other fruit cobblers. Based on how incredibly scrumptious the cherry cobbler is, I’d bet my top dollar that a strawberry or peach cobbler from Merchant would be equally as good.
So, my fellow Badgers, I encourage all to pay Merchant a visit. The cocktails are fresh, and the menu is locally grown and devilishly delicious—but make sure to save room for dessert!
Address: 121 S Pinckney St, Madison, WI
Hours of operation: Mon-Thurs: 11:00 am to 2:00 am, Fri: 11:00 am to 2:30 am, Sat: 9:00 am to 2:30 am, Sun: 5:00 pm to 2:00 am.