Dining Out: Belly pork hit the spot in city pub

The Merchants. Pub and Restaurant, Lancaster.
The Merchants. Pub and Restaurant, Lancaster.
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Arguably one of the city’s most interesting and unique buildings, The Merchants 1688 is steeped in history.

The pub was very busy when we arrived but our table was ready despite us arriving 45 minutes early. The menu is also new, and features a combination of ‘pub classics’ alongside more detailed recipes.

I opened the menu on the page that said belly pork and didn’t need to look any further. My wife Liz chose the same, and the kids had a chicken baguette, chips and salad to share. Other orders from our table were for the Lancashire Hotpot, fish and hand cut chips, and chicken caesar salad. There is also salt cod and venison on the new menu.

I think it took about half an hour for the food to arrive, but it was one of those occasions when it was nice just to relax and spend time catching up with friends, so there was no issue here.

Even less so when the belly pork arrived. It was a good chunk that fell apart with the fork, and the fat was crispy and tasty. It came on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes and onions with a tangy jus that gave the dish a nice kick.

I wasn’t sure whether it came with vegetables, and we weren’t offered them, which was the only slight disappointment with what was otherwise a very good dish.

The kids enjoyed ice cream for dessert, and Liz and I shared a very good sticky toffee pudding with cream. The bill came to around £36 for the two belly pork dishes (£9.50 each), the baguette to share, two child’s ice creams and the pudding. The ale was great too!

The Merchants is a place to go to relax and soak up the history, while also feeling a little bit hidden, the kind of place where plans get hatched, secrets get shared. I’d definitely recommend the experience.