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First Look: Morso

By Staff in Food on Aug 24, 2011 6:00PM

It’s the type of people who have an answer ready for the question “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” that will understand why the question was posed to all Chicagoans: “What would you do for a free dinner?”

Matt Maroni, owner of Gaztro-Wagon and its accompanying food truck, held a Twitter contest a few weeks ago promoting the upcoming opening of Mörso, his new restaurant. The prize? Free dinner and brunch at the new restaurant. After racing around town for 48 hours taking photos of restaurants and being the first one to complete all the tasks, I won. Who wouldn’t get up at 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning to be the first one at Green City Market to snap a shot of some elk jerky for some free chow?

The cozy space sits about 30 people, with an open kitchen in the back. Dinner was not the menu I was most excited for, but I had high hopes for a few dishes, and there were definitely a few superstars here. After asking for recommendations from our waitress, we settled on eight dishes for four people. The crab cake with bacon, chard, leek and scallop sauce was full of pure crab, soft and had a great breading-to-meat ratio. The olive puree with the wild boar belly tasted just as rich and as the meat and the spaetzle with mushroom, gouda and bread crumbs was like an amped-up German mac and cheese. Cocktails weren’t the high point of the evening, but I’d definitely order the Monkshood again, made with bourbon, walnut, apple and molasses - a smoky treat similar to an old fashioned.

Morso had some quirks, as it's just in its beginning stages. Only giving us one stirring spoon for two coffees, having to walk through the kitchen to get to the bathroom and drinking out of the smallest water glasses in the world were a few. They weren’t even open yet, so they deserve plenty of slack, and it's all stuff that didn't hinder the experience in any way.

The brunch was the stuff dreams are made of. The carrot cake French toast with cream cheese butter, pineapple and raisins rose to the top of my list of dishes that make me wonder why I’ve never seen it on a menu before. It wasn’t too sweet, the butter was divine and it was at just the right level of gooiness. The lemon ricotta pancakes with huckleberry chutney and crème fraiche quite literally popped with flavor. The pancakes were nice and fluffy, but it was the chutney that rattled my taste buds in the best way. The difference between eating any old berry and slurping down that chutney is like comparing watching TV in black and white and then in color. Maybe it was the sugar, maybe it was because I was in brunch carb ecstasy, but whatever was done to those berries truly hit me hard, fast and oh so pleasantly. It could be a real challenge to snag a seat to sip prosecco mimosas on their terrace on weekends.

By Molly Durham

Morso is open for business and located at 340 W. Armitage Avenue.