Merchants Pub & Plate is just one of many joints native to Lawrence with an interesting story.
For what started out as a national bank in the late 1880’s, this building holds some of Lawrence’s most uncovered history. When it was a bank still in 1932, rumor has it that the infamous Clyde Barrow of Bonnie & Clyde got his start robbing banks in good ole Lawrence, Kansas. He was on his way to terrorize banks of the northern United States when snow forced him to make a pit stop at The Eldridge Hotel. Clyde and his partner, Ralph Fults, had a clear view of the bank’s daily schedule being located directly across the street, and decided to test their luck as rookies in the bank robbing business. Sure enough, they made it out with $33,000 (an equivalent of over half a million dollars today).
Though it no longer serves as a bank, the original building continues to exist and function as an upbeat gastropub called Merchants Pub & Plate.
The owners, husband and wife, TK & Emily, are extremely passionate about their upscale eatery and opt to use as many ingredients grown in and near Lawrence as possible. They shared with me that it has always been TK’s dream to open a restaurant in his hometown, and together they make this “New American, Farm-to-Table,” gastropub the outstanding restaurant, local brewery and major aspect of the community that it is.
For those that don’t know (I didn’t), a gastropub is an establishment that serves high-quality food and beer. At Merchants, both are top notch.
One of their most popular entrées, the refreshing Kale Caesar Salad kills it with the candied garlic and to-die-for focaccia croutons. I’ve never been more excited to eat kale in my life.
This appetizer speaks to the unique twist that defines the intriguing style of this true gastropub. You’re looking at a dish called Scotch Olives. Stuffed with goat cheese and pork sausage, these babies are just the bite you need to tie you over until the main course arrives.
Another mouthwatering starter dish, the Lobster Rolls, are brioche rolls stuffed with lobster salad. As my main man, Guy Fieri would say, “welcome to flavor town.”
I highly recommend giving Merchants Pub & Plate a shot the next time you’re in Lawrence. A great place to take family or friends, the menu caters to all eaters whether you need gluten-free, vegan, or full carnivore options. Honestly, I think gastropubs are my new favorite thing…who could turn away great beer and kick-ass food? It’s not every day you find a place that masters both. Well done, Merchants.