Located on East Lake Street, Merlins Rest is unassuming from the outside, but upon entering you will find a friendly pub with a United Kingdom flair. Owned and operated by Lee Tomlin (from England) and John Dingley (Wales), the space is hardly recognizable from its days as Popeyes; musician and expat "Wild Bill" Watkins helped design its new look. The crowd is a variety of people; on any given night you might see a fortysomething couple enjoying their dinner, an elderly crowd happily singing Irish tunes on a pub crawl, classical-music nerds looking to chat about their French horn to thirtysomething singles, and a handful of college students drunkenly cheering on the live band. The bartenders are friendly, knowledgeable, and more than willing to save you should you fall into an awkward conversation at the bar. The menu features the type of pub dishes one would expect, from burgers to stews to fries and other beer-battered assortments, but, surprisingly, most dishes have a vegetarian version as well, including the insane-sounding vegetarian bangers and mash, and a vegan five-bean Guinness Stew. After-work specials run from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, with $3.75 import pints, which include faves such as Guinness, Belhaven, and Fuller's. Are you a whiskey fan? Merlins holds whiskey tastings on some nights for $25.
Tue., Nov. 18, 2008