It often surprises me that more people in Melbourne haven’t heard of Morris Jones. It is one of my top go-to suggestion for a Melbourne dining experience as I believe it covers all bases; a beautiful NYC style venue and perfect ambience, creative and innovative menu and excellent service. It also provides the ‘bustling, busy’ Melbourne food scene experience with the perk of being able to book. Dining in the restaurant side of the converted warehouse on a Friday or Saturday night will give you the allure of being somewhere fabulous and happening, but still be able to have an intimate dining experience, which isn’t always offered at the other ‘it’ restaurants in trendy Chapel St.
I know some people turn their nose up at the theatre of dining, but I thrive on it. In fact, you might remember my last dining experience at Morris Jones was their Shakespearean evening- read about it here– where talented chef Matthew Butcher and team managed to fuse a four course meal with Shakespeare. The regular menu is just as creative, quirky and exciting, and offers all the pizazz of theatrical eating but still leaves you feeling quite full and content at the end. I would encourage anyone to order the four course tasting menu as it is so much fun to watch the meal unfold before your eyes not knowing quite what will come next; this tasting menu is so reasonably priced at $95 a head also.
Also on offer is a great cocktail list, complete with hilarious descriptions. Our favourite was the White Chocolate and Passionfruit Martini, which promises to be ‘Sex on a Stick’, and assures the drinker that even if they don’t score tonight, they will feel like they did with this drink… fair observation!
I dined here on a busy Friday night with a gorgeous date- the lovely Jorja from Melbourne Popups, and we let Matthew take control of our menu and just went for it (cue lots of oohing and aahing throughout the night!)
The ‘delicacies’ or small bites are interesting in themselves. I had no idea what to think when presented with a bowl of Salt and Vinegar chips that were actually salt bush leaves that had been dehydrated, fried and vinegared, but the little leaves were so delicious and moreish. The mad cow show was also lots of fun, a do it yourself soup involving dashi broth and beef tartare.
There is absolutely a reason why the Spicy Tuna Tartar with crispy rice, avocado, soy and yuzu is the most popular dish on the menu. Not only is the presentation incredible in itself, presented in a glass dome with dry ice smoke but the dish is perfectly balanced and texturally amazing. The soft, fresh tuna with the crispy rice pieces excites both the mind and the tastebuds, and was like a gourmet Japanese dish that I couldn’t stop eating.
The zucchini flowers with basil pesto, honeycomb and candied hazelnuts took your standard stuffed zucchini flowers to the next level with oozy pesto and sweetness. I often get asked where vegetarians can find interesting options, and there are plenty on this menu to experience.
The chestnut gnocchi with pumpkin jam and three textures of parmesan was visually stunning and surprisingly light and airy. On biting into the gnocchi pieces, I expected heaviness but the waiter was right when he assured us it was a light dish. Give me parmesan anything and I’m happy- parmesan three ways is three times the fun!
The Flinders Island lamb with honey carrots, lamb fat and apple crumble was perfect for anyone wanting something heavier and more meaty. The lamb just melts in your mouth, and like the other dishes on the menu, the apple crumble pieces gave the dish an unexpected crunch that really takes the dish to another level.
We were lucky enough to try another savoury dish that hasn’t yet made the menu yet, but I hope it does. The divine lobster dumplings with spring onion, coriander and chicken skin salad in a ginger sauce was decadent and gorgeous presented. The Asian style dumplings in an almost French style creamy, velvety sauce was a great fusion and another example of the (successful) risks Butcher takes with his food.
Dessert took us back to the theatre of dining once again, with the very memorable Nitro Violet Crumble, which comes to the table so beautifully that the diners around you stop and watch. We loved the violet ice cream and the delicious honeycomb, but this is one very sweet dessert and we absolutely could not have finished it if we weren’t sharing.
The menu describes Matthew Butcher’s style as ‘playful and flavoursome’, and I think any diner would be able to feel like they experience this through dining at Morris Jones. The food is fun, it is exciting; playful and interactive, yet somehow still feels wholesome and filling. It is fine dining with just enough ‘wank’ factor to be impressive, but done so well that it simply feels fun. I will keep Morris Jones on my Melbourne must eat list, and can’t wait to see what lies on the cards in the future for their talented chef and fantastic team.
Please note: Foodie Melbourne and Melbourne Pop-ups dined as guests of Morris Jones, but I have eaten there out of my own pocket and will do so again!
Have a delicious day,