One of Lawrence’s upscale restaurant venues is being converted to a gastropub.
T.K. Peterson, who grew up in Lawrence, and Philip Wilson of Kansas City, plan to open Merchants Pub Plate in the former Teller’s restaurant at 746 Massachusetts. They are currently renovating the building for a scheduled mid-August opening.
“We want to make this not so much of a special occasion restaurant,” Peterson said. “For the uninitiated to gastropubs - we are a pub as far as our beer selections but we also have major focus on technique-driven food.”
Peterson, who also is Merchants’ executive chef, plans a menu featuring “locally-inspired pub fare” including housemade pimento cheese and fried green tomato sandwiches and the Grilled Quail Panzanella salad.
Bar snacks will include house marinated olives, chorizo deviled eggs, pomme frites with aioli and beer mustard, and malt vinegar chips.
Plates to share will include crispy crab cakes with sweet corn puree, Calabrian Chile pepper and cilantro; housemade bison summer sausage with farmers cheese, and cheddar ale crackers; and brochettes with braised pork belly and maple-soy lacquer, or with Firecracker shrimp, mint, ginger, Chinese pepper and greens.
It also will have soups (including the Chef’s Whim of the Day), and sandwiches such as the slow cooked porchetta with garlic chili braised greens and aioli on a baguette. As for main dishes, Peterson plans such items as crispy Heritage pork cutlets with apple-fennel slaw and bourbon honey; wild striped bass with garlic pea mash, malted sweet potato and lemon dill cream, and Creekstone Farm ribeye.
Merchants also will have an extensive drink list - 30 beers on tap, including a selection of craft beers, as well as wine and craft cocktails.
Peterson had previously worked at Teller’s for two years while in culinary school. He also was chef apprentice at the former Bleu Jacket restaurant in Lawrence and then executive chef at The Oread. Wilson will be operating partner at Merchants.
A restructured kitchen will feature a private dining Chef’s Table. It will have just one seating a night and offer a menu personally designed and prepared by Peterson.
The handsome stone building at the corner of Seventh and Massachusetts had originally been Merchants National Bank, Peterson said. The stately main room features soaring ceilings and a mezzanine overlooking the dining room. But the bathrooms make for an amusing diversion, located in Merchants old bank vault.
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