Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Merchants dates to the 1890s as The Merchant's Hotel and has a history as colorful as any building in Nashville. What once was a grand, glorious spot changed character through the years, however: from speakeasy in the 1920s to brothel in the 1940s to honky-tonk and dive bar in the 1970s. Previous owner Ed Stolman saved it from the wrecking ball, and the majestically restored building reopened as a restaurant in 1988. Merchants doesn't get enough credit for its significant part in sparking the resurgence of Lower Broadway. Entrepreneurs-about-town Benjamin and Max Goldberg of Strategic Hospitality (The Catbird Seat, The Patterson House and Paradise Park) bought and completely renovated the interior of Merchants in 2010. Chef Jason Brumm, formerly of Radius 10, returns to Nashville to helm the kitchen. Thus far, he has tweaked the menu slightly, but larger changes may be in the works. The black-and-white downstairs has an inviting bistro feel and features a long menu of appetizers, sandwiches, soups and salads. (We're partial to the fish sandwich special or the salmon BLT.) The darker, sleek upstairs offers a more formal dining experience with a separate fine-dining menu featuring steaks, seafood and a lengthy wine list.
"Lunch or dinner [upstairs] might begin with shrimp-and-lobster fondue. From there, you could move on to pan-seared, pecan-crusted trout with chive butter, or perhaps a pork tenderloin with smoked cheddar and chorizo polenta."