For years, the food menu at Hay Merchant has always embraced comfort while tapping into the creative. It's especially heartwarming to see specials like “The Cook’s Happy Hour,” where $15 will buy a shot of whiskey, beer, and a burger. (Anyone can order this special.) The wall of taps to taste through is an added bonus making this Montrose spot great for a late night bite.
Crispy is a breeze, but to make something crunchy, well, that’s hard to do. The Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich is crunchy. Chris Shepherd, chef/owner of Underbelly Hospitality, shared his secret; he lets the chicken rest in seasoned flour before frying to order. And it comes with homemade potato chips, too. What’s better than the thin crispy part of a homemade potato chip? When three get stuck together in the fryer and biting into that cluster sounds like: crisp, crisp, crackle. “Let’s die together, weee!!!”
Also, the Hay Merchant has upped their sandwich selection to include: House Smoked Turkey Grinder, The Club, The Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich, Fried Green Tomato & Pimento Cheese BLT, and the Roasted Chicken & Butter Biscuit. Late night made-to-order sandwiches sure beat an Antone’s from the grocery store, though those serve a purpose too.
Snack-wise, whether you’re hungry or not, get the Crispy Pig Ears. You’re hungry. Jar of Vicky’s Snack Mix sounds good too, but those pig ears... may they go down in history. On that note, Korean Braised Goat and Dumplings made the permanent menu. Duh, because it’s a solid dish. So, no worries folks, as Shepherd and team constantly reinvent themselves, this tasty little dish can still be found at The Hay Merchant.
The Cease & Desist burger is the type of burger that fits nicely in one hand— and it’s a double patty. There is something special about being able to finish a whole burger. It’s like, level: complete. House made pickles, American cheese— American cheese, people. That’s the secret.
Whether it's six or 60, it doesn't have to be game night for wings to be a good idea. Don’t make the mistake of leap frogging over the PB&J sauce; it's worth a try and can't be found anywhere else in town. Classic Hot, Stout BBQ, Caramelized Fish Sauce are other choices.
Fun group plates include the Giant Chicken Fried Steak and Half A Pig Head. The Giant CFS comes with cream gravy, mashed potatoes, and biscuits and costs $43 for the whole thing or $21 for half. Half a Pig Head is roasted to order, takes about 45 minutes, and is served with tortillas, lettuce cups, kimchi salsa, and pickled vegetables. It serves four people and costs $45. Since Hickory Hollow is regrettably closing soon, could this fill the CFS void? Someone needs to do it.
Old School Crispy Tacos, Silver Platter Nachos, Chili Cheese Fries—yeah those will hit the spot.
It’s always fun to see how Victoria Dearmond switches up the fried pie. Currently she's rocking the Snickers combination; drool. Also, chocolate chip cookies are baked to order (15 minutes.)
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Chris Shepherd shared with the Houston Press:
“I like that our late night food offerings are growing in Houston, and I like that one of my spots can provide food to other industry workers after a shift. That’s one of the reasons we launched industry night on Thursdays—to provide industry folks with a place to relax with free food and drink specials. I know I’m biased, but I love our wings. And guests can now order wings (and burgers and nachos and tacos and Korean braised goat and dumplings!) a minimum of 12 hours a day (with longer hours on weekends!). That makes me so happy!"
The Hay Merchant
The kitchen is open until 11:30 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and until 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. The Cooks Happy Hour lasts from 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.