Review: Bar Food and Chimay Tasting at Morton’s

Morton’s and I have had a tumultuous relationship. One of my very first posts here was about a mediocre experience there back in January. A friend, however, is quite a regular there and encouraged me to go– at least to try the bar food. The bar food, he emphasized, was really good. So, two weeks ago, we decided to try it– we had also heard that they were showing the Vice Presidential debates.

Morton’s has a fantastic happy hour, with $5 bar bites both right after work (5-6:30) and late night (9:30-11). We were there for the latter.

We picked up three appetizers: prime mini cheeseburgers, as suggested by my unnamed associate; blue cheese fries, because you can’t go wrong with potatoes and blue cheese; and the crab cakes.

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The mini cheeseburgers were very good– fresh bread with a nice crust, well-seasoned, flavorful meat, and nice, fresh toppings. I was very generous and let Terry eat the last one (as there are three on the plate).
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The blue cheese fries were okay– again, can you really go wrong with blue cheese and potatoes– lots of blue cheese and a cream sauce over their regular fries. Their regular fries are only OK, if Morton’s did pommes frites, I’d probably have rated them as over-the-top.
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The crab cakes were stellar– big chunks of crab, good flavor, nice remoulade– they were little bites of crabby goodness. I’d definitely order these again; I could easily make a meal out of them.

To drink, I had their pineapple vodka, which, in the words of a certain friend on Twitter, is “guzzleable”. She’s not kidding– sweet, pineapple-y, and goes down easily. Too easily. Downside? A little expensive for just vodka and fruit on the rocks– $12. But it’s Morton’s, so you forgive them, and probably order another.

That great experience made me much less hesitant– in fact, I was enthusiastic– about attending the Beer for Bloggers event at Morton’s on Tuesday. I was joined by 5chw4r7z, Ms. 5chw4r7z, Evan and his girlfriend from Buy Cincy, Michelle and Kevin, and K and her husband. They did this to promote a Chimay-based event on October 24, which will feature the menu we tasted, three different kinds of Chimay presented by a Chimay representative, and a $5 donation to Make-a-Wish Foundation for $45. Not a bad deal.

I’ll leave the beer tasting notes to Michelle and Kevin, but I must admit that I really love Belgian wheat beers, and the story of Chimay is pretty interesting. Plus the glasses are cool– they’re designed so you really get full appreciation of the nose.

Morton's Chimay Tasting

Three Chimay varieties were served: Chimay Grand Reserve (blue), Chimay Cinq Cents (white), and Chimay Premiere (Red). My favorite was the Grand Reserve, but I loved how the premiere paired with the chocolate cake.

But on to the food…

Morton's Chimay Tasting
We were welcomed with a presentation of smoked salmon with horseradish, onion, capers and lemon with grilled bread. The salmon was lovely, and I love the classical presentation.

Morton's Chimay Tasting
The tuna tartare was interesting– the combination of wasabi cream, cucumber tuna and avocado made it reminiscent of a California roll. I liked it quite a bit, and it paired well with the crisp Chimay White. It’s one of those things I want to go home and recreate.

Morton's Chimay Tasting
The filet sandwiches were good, but not as good as the mini burgers I’d had two weeks before. Though the steak is undeniably good, the presentation– a little mustard mayonnaise and some very soft, unimpressive bread leaves a bit to be desired. Tasty, but it did not blow me away. I realize that Morton’s is limited by their corporate menu, but other chains give their chefs a bit of leeway– I’d love to see that happen at Morton’s. This was paired with the Chimay Blue, which was my favorite of the night– a bit heavier in body to pair with the beef, but not overwhelming. Yum.

Morton's Chimay Tasting
Chocolate sponge filled with thick, gooey chocolate sauce. How can you go wrong? Michelle had a whole one and Kevin and I split a half. It was pretty good– and half was more than enough for me. The Chimay Red was lighter than I thought it would be, and cut the richness of the chocolate cake well.

Morton’s treated us very well– I talked with their marketing manager, Jason, about prior experiences and he was receptive to criticism and invited me back to try again. I probably will. In fact, I ended up at the bar afterwards, sipping a Negroni (my new favorite drink) with some friends.

Thanks to Annemarie and Jason from Morton’s and Lauren from Wordsworth for the experience!

Full Disclosure: Yes, this was free, and I have received comped meals before. If this happens, I will always tell you, the reader, and I will always be honest– there’s no reason not to be.

Morton's - the Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

  • Kelly

    I love Morton’s little cheeseburgers! Man, I’ve got to get over there for their $5 bar bites sometime soon – I don’t think I’ve been in a year.

  • 5chw4r7z

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only person to wonder what those bland buns were doing at an upscale place like Morton’s. If mcyD’s can get it right, why can’t they?
    I’m glad to see from your post thats not what they serve at their happy hours, now I want to and try the mini-burger, sans cheese.

  • Julie

    Bob, the filet sandwiches are available as bar food in their happy hours. They just have two choices– the filet and the prime cheeseburgers. I definitely prefer the prime cheeseburgers.

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