The 130-cover venue, situated on the former Cantaloupe site on Charlotte Road, will offer a modern European menu, devised by Harnett and head chef Neil Borthwick, who previously worked as a sous chef at The Square and is a former winner of the Nestlé Toque d'Or.
“We spent a long time searching for the right space, and we knew this was it,” said Hartnett. “It’s the old Cantaloupe site, which was one of the first restaurants and bars in Shoreditch, before the area became so popular.
“There’s a real sense of history and community here which is important for us to maintain, and we hope to make Merchant’s Tavern part of this.”
Hartnett and Canteen’s founders Dominic Lake and Patrick Clayton-Malone are equal financial partners in the new venture, with Hartnett responsible for its operation and recruitment.
An update on the classic ‘tavern’, Merchant’s Tavern is so-called because of the team’s shared belief that chefs are modern-day ‘merchants of good fortune’. This tale originated from French chef Michel Bras – a fundamental inspiration for Borthwick during his time at Restaurant Bras.
“We want the food to be skilled yet honest,” said Borthwick. “We source the best cuts of meat, the finest seafood, and yet all this is nothing without care and attention from start to finish. Even less utilised ingredients can be inspiring when approached in this way.”
Merchant’s Tavern’s menu will be determined by the seasons, including starters such as autumn vegetable salad with buckwheat emulsion and speck trentino; and hogget broth with pearl barley and ewe’s milk cheese toast.
Mains will include loin of venison with lardo di Colonata, braised red cabbage and poached quince; braised fillet of halibut with ham hock and chicken broth, leeks and salsify; and roast stone bass with scorched onions, sautéed artichokes and chive crème fraiche.
The dessert menu will feature manjari chocolate pave with almond dacquoise and an orange and kumquat salad; mandarin and cardamom burnt cream with almond shortbread; and London honey tart with malt whisky crème fraiche ice cream.
A bar menu will also be available, with options including venison tartare with pickled walnut cream and sour dough toast; deep-fried artichoke with red onion and mint salsa; and coddled eggs with oregano, parmesan and speck. Classic and natural wines from established and emerging growers will feature on the restaurant and bar’s menu, alongside traditional cocktails, lagers, ales, stouts, and perries.
The venue has been designed by Hackney-based design studio Very Good and Proper. The site is a Victorian warehouse and former apothecary in the heart of Shoreditch, on the edge of the City.
It is the third restaurant venture for Hartnett, who last year launched a new restaurant at Robin Hutson's New Forest Lime Wood Hotel.Meanwhile, Canteen has five restaurants in Spitafields, Royal Festival Hall, Baker Street, Canary Wharf and Covent Garden.
Merchant’s Tavern will open at 35-42 Shoreditch Road in September.