The Merchant House, Greenville
This small-town spot serves creative comfort cuisine, including Detroit-style, deep-dish pizzas, in a historic building.
The tall brick building The Merchant House restaurant occupies was built in 1873 and has been home to businesses ranging from a dress shop to a dry-goods store. A sense of history still pervades the structure. Prior to opening the eatery in early 2016, chef Chris Campbell and his wife, Cassie, spent a year renovating the building, unearthing original leaded-glass windows and interior pillars that had been buried behind layers of plaster.
These days, antique fixtures and a warm interior of wood, iron and brick serve as the backdrop to the restaurant’s menu of hearty cuisine prepared with cosmopolitan flair that has foodies in this small town of 13,000 residents excited.
“We make updated comfort food here,” says Chris. “We take dishes that were popular in the past and do them differently.”
One such dish is The Merchant House’s take on chicken and waffles, which features bacon, macaroni, cheese and walnuts. Another is a classic French sandwich, coated in a breakfast-time favorite.
“Folks love our Monte Cristo sandwich,” Chris says. “… We make it with ham, turkey and cheese on French toast, and it all gets rolled in Rice Krispies and deep fried.”
Popular appetizers, such as the candied bacon and the banana pepper calamari, as well as some entrees are permanent menu fixtures, but diners can expect a constantly rotating list of weekly specials and seasonal dishes. “We probably swap out 50 percent of our menu each season,” says Cassie.
A permanent favorite is The Merchant House’s Detroit-style, deep-dish pizza, which originated when workers in the Motor City lacked proper pans for making Sicilian-style pizza and converted auto-parts trays instead. The restaurant uses reclaimed rectangular auto-parts pans to make their nearly 20 different varieties.
“Detroit-style pizza is basically upside-down,” says Chris, explaining the toppings go on the crust, and then the cheese and sauce go on top.
As the weather warms, expect more salads and flatbreads to appear on the menu, as well as dishes based on the bounty of produce available in southwest Ohio.
“Once spring comes around, we get a lot of local produce,” Chris says. “People drop off garden ingredients just because they want to see us use it in our food. We’ll put it to use.”
406 S. Broadway St., Greenville 45331, 937/459-4405, tmhgreenville.com