I had been before about a year ago and it was a pleasant enough experience and I recall I always thought I would return but I guess I just got distracted by other places and it just didn't happen.
There's a pleasant feel to Morris Jones; roominess with the high timber ceilings, dark wood floors and tables, leather chairs...it's all quite manly. The menus have a wooden back board and a leather cover so definitely on the testosterone side of things. Steve felt quite at home, whereas I felt a little bit of an outsider...like a guest but as a guest, you get treated well so it's not a bad thing to not feel completely at home at times.
We were in the hands of chef Matthew Butcher who really proved to us that he is an extremely skilful technician yet also has an inspiring creative streak too that he calls being "quirky". This "quirkiness" is what make his dishes unexpected and a little bit exciting.
Our amuse bouche was a mouthful of the busty beet salad - goat's curd, red sorrel, buckwheat. Classic combination of flavours perhaps but there was a real sharp tang in the curd and then a saltiness from the buckwheat. A strong indication that what was to come would be delicious.
Black and blue tuna - white radish, chestnut, puffed quinoa, yuzu and soy
Meaty squares of chargrilled tuna, with snaps of pickled mushroom flavours coming through, toasty notes from the quinoa, classic soy and sashimi and then a cleansing flavour of chestnut. Very clever, very creative and very delicious all with a little theatre. Accompanied by a glass of Moet this was such a wonderful way to celebrate a Wednesday evening! Nothing more decadent than French champagne on a non occasion - it turns it into an occasion!
The soup was special - deep in flavour so I know the stock used must have been good and veiled over with the nutty creaminess of Jerusalem artichoke. The mock truffle, we found out is toasted breadcrumbs infused with truffle oil and that added fragrance as well as texture. There was chew from the mushroom and crunch from the snow peas and such deep deep savoury flavours that touched the very depths of our souls.
This was Steve's favourite dish which was surprising given it's a veggie dish!
The prawn crackers were salty and tasty and belly pork so juicy yet crunchy. With a Japanese twist from the dashi, the flavours worked well but to get to the meat the crackers would fall into the broth and become a slimy mess which was less appetising. I think the best way to eat this was to munch on all the crackers first before going with the pork. Visually this worked; practically it wasn't the easiest to eat.
Quick palate cleanser of kiwi lollipops came out next. Covered in some gel that was a bit gooey, I think I'd have preferred a crackly sugar coating like a toffee apple. However, I still liked the sharpness and the freeze of the fruit and yes my palate was refreshed and cleansed ready for dessert.
Strawberry and cream, texture of strawberry, white chocolate
Two contrastingly wonderful desserts; the strawberry plate was right up my street. Creaminess, sweetness, coldness, toasty shortbread crumbs, strawberriness, Summer on a plate. Steve loved the salted caramel and chocolate. I'm not a huge chocolate dessert fan and whilst I enjoyed the sorbet I found the pud a little grainy in texture but Steve ate it all!
We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at Morris Jones and are really excited about what it wants to do and where it wants to go, Thank you for sharing your story with us. Throughout our meal, sommelier Tim kept our glasses topped up and chose some beautiful wines to accompany our exciting dishes. Loved it so much that Steve booked us in the next week to join them on their "Wild Table" dinner which I'll go into later on.
Morris Jones is definitely going through a renaissance and we have been lucky to be their for the tail end of it. It's time other people begin to see this too and get to enjoy the talents of Matthew Butcher who has been a little under the radar in the Melbourne food scene. I
The Urbanspoon score is low but the reviews from the last 6 months have been stellar and that demonstrates and indicates the re birth this place has had and the new direction it is moving in and Steve and I have bought into this and want to support it as much as we can.
Shells from the Sea - Local pippies and clams, sea herbs, pig face flowers, jamon consomme
Northside Community Garden - Mushroom dirt, Spring vegetables, garlic flowers
Duck Loquats - Duck breast and leg, coastal spinach, nasturtiums, pomme souffle
Choc Joint R18 - Smoked chocolate, edible ash, choc mint
The italic ingredients indicate what was foraged. And there was a little palate cleanser of home made lemonade from some stole lemons! Foraging, stealing...there's a fine line?! No that's not what we were told, just my opinion!
We were seated at a table of 6, we enjoyed the company of Paige and Erin as well as others and we definitely enjoyed the food. The stand out for me was the delicious duck with crispy potatoes. The breast was done rare and plump and juicy whereas the leg was slow cooked, shredded and delicious. Steve loved the veggie dish (they do their veggies well here) and I have to say, I hate carrots but even I ate them. I loved the English style salad cream Matthew incorporated into the dish.
The shells from the sea was delicious and I loved the salty savouriness of the consomme. The plump sea herbs added a real briny touch that emphasised the shellfish element. My slight quibble was by the time our consomme was poured into our dishes the temperature could have been warmer and given there wasn't that much of it, it cooled down and became cold consomme quite quickly. Whilst that wasn't unpleasant I'm pretty sure, hot consomme is better than cold consomme.
The choc joint was creatively presented in a glass ash tray and had an ash tip. I wasn't a huge fan of the ash - too much like chewing an old cigarette but the chocolate mint mousse like cigar was yummy and the mint prevented the chocolate dish from being too cloying. I think a scoop of something cold like an ice cream would have added a temperature dimension to the dessert but maybe that's just me being greedy!
And this review is only my opinion and Steve's opinion based on our visits. Our first visit was with the kind compliments of Morris Jones (thank you very much) and the second was paid for by Bank of Barley.