The Morrison Bar & Oyster Room – Brooklyn Brasserie
I’m not actually sure what my thoughts on The Morrison should be. On the one hand, the establishment brings to Sydney a taste of the “New York-style Brasserie”. Oh yes, as you will soon see, it certainly looks the part. The restaurant cum bar has an atmosphere that is unique amongst CBD eateries, the kind that people usually can’t help but stare into as they walk past it on their regular commutes.
Then you come to the question of the food – here, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. But whereas usually it’s instant fail no matter what else is good about the restaurant, I couldn’t really say the food was not up to scratch. In reality, it’s actually all pretty scratch.
Hmm, then again, let’s take a look deeper. Let’s take a train to Brooklyn.
Date Visited: 14/11/2012
Address: 225 George st Sydney, NSW 2000
Go-to dish: potato gnocchi w/tomato, basil, mozzarella & rocket
Pictures tell it all, really. If you’ve been to New York before much of this is likely to be familiar, nostalgic even. I’ve never actually been, but that makes it more the striking for me – it’s not so much that it stands out exuberantly or lavishly, but rather there’s an…elegance and sophistication – the kind of restaurant you don’t really expect to see families with little children go to. Then again, its location has to do with this and it’s no surprise that it’s a frequent haunt for city lunchers. It’s just good business.
As can be seen from the witticisms and quirky humour on the newspapers (yes, there are full newspapers which make for some…interesting reading) and the windows of the restaurant, the light-hearted nature of the place really shines through.
Pretty nifty place, right? What’s particularly (and more practically) special about it is that it’s also a dedicated oyster bar. I don’t think I know of any others in Sydney; special indeed. Heck, the oyster menu comes on a newspaper that not only lists what’s on offer, but describes each one in detail, with location information, tasting notes, and more. They take their oysters seriously.
Well, despite this, we didn’t actually order any oysters – you can’t order them individually, and nobody in the group was interested in them. Oh well, but I’m not really missing all that much – not a big fan of them anyway.
This particular visit to The Morrison’s (I’ve been once before, much earlier) was a work lunch, and with work lunches wine is often involved. I personally didn’t drink any, but everybody else said it was good, so there’s a picture if you wanna try the same when/if you visit.
And now, for the edibles.
No, bread does not come automatically – it must be ordered. So don’t be surprised if no bread comes since…well…you didn’t order it. The bread itself is standard and tastes decent enough for white bread (I personally prefer dark rye/sourdough bread, with wholegrains if possible).
What really accentuates bread is of course, butter. I haven’t seen this kind of labeling before, but I’ll call it “snob butter” because of the guy’s facial expression on the cover paper. But don’t worry, the butter doesn’t taste snobbish (what does that even taste like?). Works well enough!
For the first plate, we get some gnocchi. The gnocchi itself is fantastic, really soft and kind of gooey-fluffy, perfect when it goes with the rich tomato basil sauce. Go-to dishes aren’t usually this pedestrian, but I can’t look past this gnocchi when it comes to balance of flavours and textures. One of the better gnocchi dishes out there, for sure.
The crab in this linguine stands out with exceptional flavour – it was what I first noticed on tasting the dish, before the pasta! The pasta was pretty good as well, but it was very plain and standard next to the crab. Unfortunately, the whole dish, as a result of this, didn’t feel balanced.
I also had an issue with the overall seasoning – it was just a little off, a little too tangy, something like that :S
Okay well, the main problem here is that it was too creamy. I get that it’s essentially meant to be like that – can’t be a mistake when all four pieces arrive with the same amount of mayo cream piled on. It’s an unfortunate consequence of my palate – this doesn’t work for me. If you like a crab salad that’s 70% cream, 15% bread and 15% crab then by all means go for it, otherwise, nahhhh.
Wow what a beast of a steak this is, if only it tasted as good! The anchovy butter brought a fairly unique and yummy flavour to the meat, but that was just my opinion. Most of the table agreed it was too ‘fishy’ for their tastes. As I was the one who ordered this, specifically with this butter…oops.
Unfortunately, the steak itself isn’t that magnificent. Granted, it is a lowly T-bone cut, but even then, it didn’t seem like a good cut – meat was very difficult to separate from the bone, and the meat itself was difficult to cut up into bite-sized pieces. I resorted to just using my teeth to gnaw at it. Not a pleasant experience
So texture kind of failed (by “kind of” I mean “epically”). And it would have failed on the flavour if it weren’t for that butter – actually, the butter ran out way too quickly. So woe is me when I drummed up the inner will to eat the rest of the meat without any condiments. Not a great steak, really. Considering it also costs an eye-watering $95…not happening again.
Saltimbocca is usually made with veal, but oh well why not be nuts and do it with a massive hunk of fish?
I’m very impressed by the sheer look of the dish – a very large chunk of salmon tail is used, for once making me feel like I ordered something that was somewhat worth its price ($56). Visually, it definitely ticks my boxes – sometimes that carnal side of me just wants to tear at a huge chunk of meat. Yum.
Taste-wise, it does competently – the red wine jus is a bit too bitter and not savoury enough for my liking. It has the effect of somewhat damping the full flavour range of the salmon and all you end up tasting is kind of like a burnt (but not that burnt) red wine reduction. Wasn’t totally pleasant, yet had an addictive quality to it that kept me coming back for many more pieces.
The salmon itself is done too dry, and requires liberal lashings of jus in order to get it good enough to swallow. Luckily, plenty of jus was given.
There wasn’t much prosciutto with the dish, which was rather disappointing, but I guess they didn’t want to detract from the fish, right? Oh well, I would’ve definitely liked some crispy prosciutto no matter what the star is meant to be.
These are a definite rip at $10 for a mere handful. At least they taste decent with a good crunchy texture and an aromatic taste that’s no doubt coming from the duck fat it’s cooked in. Still, don’t get the chips here unless you just cannot bear to have a meal without chips. That should be most of you…I hope.
Okay, so The Morrison’s problem is that it seems to miss in rather strange and unexpected ways with its food, and often it’s far too pricey for what you get. Overall, the food could be acceptable if it was 30% cheaper, at a lesser restaurant. But, The Morrison has set the bar quite high for itself as evidenced by its pricing (pretty much fine dining levels) as well as its decor – which I maintain is awesome.
Shame that can’t be said for the food though.
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
The Good: great decor and atmosphere, some dishes are genuinely good
The Bad: but most dishes are not that great, and miss on some rather basic things. Far too pricey much of the time – you will get fleeced if you don’t watch what you order.
I give The Morrison’s a grand total of six Caesars out of ten – 6/10