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Potato Merchant (CLOSED)

Restaurants, British Exmouth Market

Time Out says

Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that venues remain open.

Please note, Potato Merchant has now closed. Time Out Food editors, February 2019.

Not actually a shop dedicated to selling 50lb bags of Maris Pipers, this ‘small plates’ restaurant uses the world’s favourite tuber as its marketing shtick. Our waiter informed us that there are 200 varieties in the UK, and PM exists to celebrate them; yet his pitch was undermined by the limited selection of common-or-garden types the kitchen actually cooks with – only a dozen varieties on our visit.

The spuds are given a variety of northern European treatments. Tartiflette should have been a highlight – the reblochon cheese, lardons and onions give the dish a fatty attraction – but served in a tiny, paper-lined punnet, the portion was a little too meagre, and too dry. Fat chips, fried in beef dripping, were crisp on the outside, but disappointingly floury on the inside; chefs change the chip potato daily, and ours wasn’t one of the better experiments. Salt cod fritters were served with a good mayo, but the salt cod within needed more texture, less goo. The best dish was the one where the pink fir apples were a mere accompaniment to the centrepiece – smoked herring, which was firm, oily and of Scandinavian perfection.

The ‘concept’ here might be a gimmick that’s far from fruition, created by the owners of Bincho Yakitori, the Japanese restaurant that previously occupied this site. But the shortcomings need to be set against PM’s usefulness as a casual, drop-in sort of bar for the post-Atkins-diet era; the own-made crisps were flavoursome, salty and go well with a beer or glass of wine.

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Details

Address: 55 Exmouth Market
London
EC1R 5QL
Transport: Tube: Angel tube or Farringdon tube/rail or bus 19, 38, 341
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