The Merchant is a restaurant located at the bottom of the Rialto Tower, 495 Collins Street, Melbourne. It's a very mediterranean restaurant, managing to look modern and warm with a massive open kitchen and lovely staff.
Now I don't normally mention the bread usually provided by restaurants, but the bread at The Merchant was incredible. Made fresh on site and seemingly warm from the oven, the bread was absolutely divine. The fact that it came with dipping oil instead of bread was just icing on the cake, as it were.
Their menu is fairly straight-forward, with simple english translations. For my main I had the Bigoli de Bassan, a duck ragu with pasta. The duck went well with the mushrooms and tomatoes in the sauce without being overpowered, and was perfect for the tail end of winter.
My little three year old son had pasta napoli, and judging by how enthusiastically he ate it all, and the way he kept saying it was “dewishus” it definitely got a thumbs up as well. We also shared a flourless chocolate cake, and when I say shared, I managed to score a couple of corners from the boy and his newly discovered “dessert stomach”
Speaking of my little boy, we were sat almost diagonally opposite from the rest of the Friday night crowd, completely separate from anyone else except another family with young ones who arrived later in the night. It was done so subtly, and the staff treated us so well, that I didn't even notice until about twenty minutes after my fiance pointed it out. I am perfectly okay with this. I know my son will be well-behaved from experience, but they do not. We had a wonderful night, he had fun chatting with the staff and they were absolutely lovely in return. Definitely coming back.
Their website is here.