Volume 20, Number 36 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 19 - 25, 2011

Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

With less than three hours to go before opening Merchants River House, employees and workers were still putting finishing touches on the Battery Park City restaurant formerly known as Steamers Landing. (Owner Abraham Merchant was behind the bar.)

Merchants River House now open

BY Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day may have been a holiday for some, but it certainly was not for Abraham Merchant, his wife, Lyn, and the employees of Merchants River House. On January 17, with less than three hours to go before opening to the public, they were putting the finishing touches on the Battery Park City restaurant formerly known as Steamers Landing.

Some people applied decals to mirrors to give them an old-fashioned look, others swabbed the newly finished floors, now a dark brown. A few wayward strips of blue-and-white striped wallpaper were applied in places previously overlooked.

In the kitchen, Chef Wade Burch was putting something into the ovens, and said, “Yes,” there would be food on the table when the restaurant opened at 5 p.m.

Abraham Merchant supervised, answered questions and said he was feeling calm. ?For a restaurant opening, this is going well,? he said. He has had plenty of experience. Merchants Hospitality now has eight restaurants in Manhattan, including SouthWest NY at 2 World Financial Center, Merchants Café at 90 Greenwich St. and Pound & Pence at 55 Liberty St.

The changes at Merchants River House are more than cosmetic. Though the restaurant on the Battery Park City esplanade between Albany and Liberty Streets has knockout river views, Merchant decided that the seafood menu served when the restaurant was called Steamers Landing had run its course. The new menu is more varied, simpler and less expensive.

With an estimated five million tourists a year due in the neighborhood after the National September 11 Memorial and Museum opens, Merchant was thinking about what the visitors might like and what they could afford. Of course, he was also thinking about what locals would like and could afford on more than an occasional basis.

The new menu is plain vanilla American with a few exotic touches. But seafood is not totally absent. House-cured gravlax is among the starters and grilled North Atlantic salmon is served as an entrée.

A beverage menu features bottled and draft beer, wine by the bottle, glass or carafe, cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks.

A menu for kids with kid-sized portions includes pasta, pizza, mac and cheese, chicken fingers, grilled cheese sandwiches and burgers.

Merchants River House will be open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday to Friday and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends. For more information call (212) 432-1451.

Desserts at Merchants River House include a chocolate blackout cupcake made with Valrhona chocolate.

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