This was perhaps a little naughty but I started off my new plan with a splurge meal. I’m allowing myself one meal out every week. The guidelines I’m following when choosing a restaurant? No fast food. I’d prefer to go to indy places over chains. Rather than choosing a restaurant at random, I’m doing some research online first and will have a Plan B and Plan C in place. The goal is to have an excellent meal and have something to look forward to each week.

This week I had planned to visit the Basil Leaf Cafe in Lawrence but, as it turns out they’re closed on Sundays. (No worries… I’ll hit them up another time!)  Next up on my list was Merchants Pub & Plate in Lawrence, KS. They did not disappoint!

Their specials sounded lovely and we–my mother and I–each tried one. (I very nearly ordered their kale and white bean griddle cakes with roasted carrots. That’s at the top of my list for my next visit.)

First up… diver scallops with tempura onions and tomato butter served over lentil risotto. I enjoyed this. The scallops were cooked perfectly and they had a lovely sear. The tomato butter added a nice, light touch. It was delicious drizzled over the scallops and tempura onions. The lentils were tasty… and plentiful! I’m pretty sure they were multiplying whenever I looked away. I couldn’t finish them all, even after inviting my mom to help herself to some.

Diver Scallops at Merchants Plate & Pub

My mother chose the other special, a rocket salad with prosciutto and melon. It was served with olive oil and a nice, thick balsamic vinegar. She said that the arugula was quite tender and the salad was quite refreshing on a late summer day. I didn’t taste the salad but I did get a chance to taste a bit of the balsamic. It was thick nearly to the point of being gooey, sweet, tangy and just a bit fruity. Delicious! I wish I had asked if it was a reduction of some sort. I loved the presentation. It was plated nicely without looking fussy.

Rocket Salad at Merchants Pub & Plate.

Service was also good. The hostess wasn’t overly friendly–and perhaps that’s not too much of a concern–but our waiter was solicitous without hovering. We were seated at a window near the front that was perfect for people-watching on Mass St. Lawrence is a good town for people watching. There was some interactive art on the corner and it was fun to see people play with it. There was also a woman singing what sounded like African songs on the corner opposite. I tried to get a pic but didn’t manage to get anything that really showed off the corner.

Would I go back to Merchants Pub & Plate? Of course! As mentioned before, I’d really like to try their white bean griddle cakes. I’ve also spent some time on their Facebook page and they’ve posted some specials that look like something I’d like to have on a plate in front of me.

Next up? Cafe Beautiful, also in Lawrence! I’m beyond excited about this one. This is less a restaurant than a dining experience. There is no menu. There is one table. Dining is by reservation only. The chef does take dietary issues and preferences into consideration. I, on the other hand, simply asked Chef Mel to bring it on. The thought of having an excellent multi-course meal spread out in front of us with no knowledge of what is coming next is exciting!

Merchants Pub & Plate
746 Massachusetts
Lawrence, KS 66044
(785) 843-4111
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