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The Comforts of Morseland

By John DiGilio in Food on Aug 3, 2011 7:40PM

Comfort food. It gets its name for a reason. Comfort food is supposed to help you relax and feel good. It is both the perfect prescription for a long, hectic day and the ultimate culmination of a lazy afternoon. If the comfort food you are paying for does not make you sit back and breathe a sigh of relief, you are quite simply being cheated. Comfort food is what Morseland in Rogers Park promises and definitely what it delivers.

Morseland is one part bar, one part music hall, and one part restaurant - a three-part harmony that sings in beautiful unison. From the cozy interior to the friendly staff to the quality of the food, it is the kind of place that makes you want to undo the top button on your pants, sit back, and indulge. The menu offers a tight and tempting selection of appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, and sides. There is something for everyone, meat eaters and vegetarians alike. In fact, it is the only place we have visited thus far that actually gives meat-free diners the chance to get in on the sliders craze! For the spud lovers, Morseland even offers a number of loaded french fry choices. Sweet and hot? Bacon and bleu cheese? Take your pick. Portions are large, so take your time and savor.

We popped into Morseland before a show and were immediately taken with the cozy layout and subdued lighting. Though there were dining tables, a bar, a pool table, and a performance stage, it was still spacious and inviting. An extremely helpful server assisted us in choosing the beer-battered mac & cheese wedges for a starter. They were crispy and delicious and made us feel like a couple of kids. For our entrees, we chose a grilled cheese sandwich that was on special that night and a bowl of the Firecracker Turkey and Five Finger Chili. The grilled cheese was better than anything our mothers used to make, with gooey layers of cheese and tomato between thick slices of bread. It was grilled to perfection. The chili too was a thing of beauty. It featured ground turkey, beans and herbs that had been stewed (for hours, according to the menu) with five chili peppers. It was topped with shredded cheddar, red onion, and a dollop of sour cream. The taste was bold and satisfying. Finally, we paired our dishes with an order of the Sweet & Hot Fries. These came as a tasty mound of taters topped with crushed red pepper flakes, shredded cheese, and a balsamic reduction that was playful on the tongue. Suffice it to say that we took our time and enjoyed ths meal!

In addition to dinner, Morseland offers cocktails, live music, and Sunday brunch. A full schedule of performances is available online. As a music venue, the place is refreshingly intimate. Regardless of why you are there, we recommend that you visit the bar and try their Morsejito. It is a deliciously light take on this classic summer libation and it is served in a large glass. Though not immense, Morseland's beer list is more than formidable as well. Great food, great drinks, great ambience . . . it does not get much more comforting than that. The next time you are looking to kick back and take a load off, make a pilgrimmage to Morseland.

Morseland is located at 1218 W. Morse Ave.