Dining with a view fun way to wrap up summer at River Merchant in Kent


The River Merchant's back deck provides a great view of the Cuyahoga River in Kent.

My husband, daughter and I captured one of the last lazy days of summer in mid-September on the charming riverfront deck at the River Merchant restaurant in Kent.

It was a warm, sunny, perfect evening and we came to this cozy-feeling restaurant with an appetite. It’s a popular spot that accepts reservations only for parties of five or more.

About 20 minutes after we arrived — once we’d perused the restaurant’s well-stocked wine shop and pondered what drinks we wanted at the bar — we were seated on the deck overlooking the Cuyahoga River and train tracks on the opposite bank.

The River Merchant offers an extensive list of cocktails, wines and beers.

The River Merchant, which owner Cameron Thomas opened in March 2020, features a mostly casual menu with flatbreads, sandwiches, soups and salads and a variety of appetizers called merchant bites. More upscale entrees include surf and turf (angus reserve sirloin fillet with two grilled shrimp), shrimp scampi, oven-roasted salmon, chicken Florentine and roasted vegetable orzo.

To start out our al fresco dinner, we shared fried rice-wrapped shrimp, an appetizer that included five long shrimp with a nice crunch from its rice wrappers. The shrimp paired nicely with a sweet and spicy Thai chili sauce for dipping and a tangy Asian slaw.

Fried rice-wrapped shrimp is a small bite at the River Merchant in Kent.

The River Merchant of course has an extensive wine list by the glass and bottle, with even more selections available to order from the retail area. The restaurant also offers 16 draft beers and an extensive list of signature cocktails and spirits.

I opted for a full-bodied Shoofly Shiraz from Australia, which cost $10 for a 6-ounce serving. The restaurant serves this wine as well as 17 others in 6- or 9-ounce servings and by the bottle.

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