23 Queen St., Charlottetown, PEI – Website
Date of Visit: July, 2016
On the third evening of my visit to Charlottetown, I planned on steak for dinner. Unfortunately, within 5 minutes of ensconcing myself at the restaurant of my choice, a freeform jazz trio started to perform, very loudly, right across the street. Now, I find jazz to be marginally more pleasurable than having shards of glass shoved into my ears so I quickly extricated myself and walked the three blocks or so down Queen Street to the Merchantman. Now, they say you should never order steak in a seafood restaurant, or vice versa, but sometimes, happily, ‘they’ turn out to be wrong…
Merchantman sits at the bottom if Queen street, just a few hundred yards from the water. It occupies a handsome brick building of 19thcentury vintage ( I would guess) and it features an oyster bar as well as a summer patio that affords a nice view up the street. The inside is pleasant enough but the weather was so nice, despite a bit if a breeze, that I initially sat myself on the patio. After a while, however, the breeze turned quite brisk and so I moved inside.
Pickle point Oysters – These are a popular PEI variety that have been common quite far afield for a number if years now. I have had them many times and the ones available this summer was as good as any in the past. The pickle points are typically very salty and these followed tradition with a sharp bite near the start that carried on well past the middle before subsiding into sweetness. Sometimes, this type gives very grassy notes but, this year cucumber highlights dominated the finish. I rated them at a 4 out of 5.
Bread with chipotle sea salt butter – This came complimentary with my main course. The bread was a nice nutty brown, and very moist, while the butter had a lovely, very slightly spicy creaminess that really complimented it.
10oz Strip-loin – This came served with a demi-glace, herb butter, and crispy onion rings. It was also possible to order the same meal with crab as well but the type was Snow Crab, which is my least favorite, and so I passed. There is a pretty good list if sides with most entrees, including steak, and I chose fries and seasonal vegetables, which turned out to be roast carrot and parsnip . The steak (which I ordered medium rare) was a good cut, nicely tender, and cooked just to order. The demi-glace was really well made and, though perhaps intended for the steak (which needed little else), I loved it with the potatoes and vegetables. I’ve had steaks in steak houses that weren’t as good as this and I gave the dish a solid 4 out of 5.
I was treated very well at the Merchantman and never lacked or had to wait for anything. The ambience is very pleasant and the food well cooked and presented. I would come back again and I rate the place at a 4 out of 5