Written by Steve Mosco, firstname.lastname@example.org Saturday, 21 September 2013 00:00
It is time to trust in the gastropub.
Rarely seen in Plainview and neighboring towns, this restaurant phenomenon is known for unabashedly serving high-end beer, spirits and food. The menus are often adventurous; the customers, ferociously loyal.
Looking to stake its claim with local eaters lost in a sea of commonplace meals is Morrison’s on Woodbury Road in Plainview. The genesis of Morrison’s is typical; an owner who grew up in the restaurant business opens her own place in a well-worn location. But far less typical is the product of this particular owner’s toil.
Morrison’s is an unpretentious restaurant serving American food that pairs perfectly with craft beer and small batch spirits, according to its website. But a sit-down with owner Shelby Poole reveals the art beyond the obvious.
“We wanted a restaurant with high quality beer and food; an upscale pub, but completely unpretentious,” she said. “It’s casual. You don’t have to be a certain way to eat here. You don’t have to feel obligated to sit at the bar. Just come in and be comfortable.”
Poole pushes comfort because that is what the restaurant business is to her. She grew up waiting tables and hosting at her parents’ restaurant, Graffiti, in Woodbury. Many customers came to know Graffiti as home and that is what Poole wants for Morrison’s – a home away from home for the next generation of Long Island eaters.
Many of the recipes come from her chef husband Harry Poole, her mother and father Lori and Artie Bloom, as well as the restaurant’s sous chef Jason, who brought many southern style flavors with him from North Carolina. The restaurant serves up many fresh fish dishes, as well as pasta, double-cut pork chops, a barbecue rubbed rib-eye and a tavern burger boasting a rib eye, short rib and kobe beef blend.
Some of Morrison’s most inventive moments are found on the appetizer and bar menu. A bar hound’s best friend, these munchies include shrimp queso, ale battered spicy fried pickles, roasted tomato soup with mini grilled cheese sandwiches, spicy lobster eggrolls and their signature appetizer, burnt sprout leaves.
The sprout leaves demonstrate how inspiration can come from unexpected places. Little more than pan crisped Brussels sprouts with cider vinegar, Poole first came across this idea while at an upscale sushi restaurant with her husband.
“There is no way to describe how delicious the Brussels sprouts are,” she said. “You just have to eat them.”
Traveling to gastropubs in Austin, Napa and Florida, the Pooles researched different styles and sampled menus before opening Morrison’s. On their trips, they learned the value of craft beer and small batch liquors. With a healthy knowledge of beer in her head and a sorrowful glance toward anyone who orders from the Anheuser Busch pantheon of mediocrity, Poole takes pride in Morrison’s extensive and eclectic drink options.
“I tell people I’ll judge them. For instance, we prefer to use vodkas that don’t come in flavors. We’ll use real fruit. We sell beer in mason jars. There’s a craft beer movement going on right now and it’s working for us,” she said. “There’s a Brooklyn vibe going on here. But nobody has time to go to Brooklyn, so we want them to come here.”
Morrison’s provides many specialty nights, including Taco Tuesdays and Vinyl Wednesdays, where patrons are encouraged to bring in records that Poole will spin on her freshly purchased record player.
“The first two records I bought were Van Morrison, for obvious reasons, and The Lumineers,” she said. “If I had to compare this restaurant to a particular band or style of music, those would be my choices.”
The musically-inspired, laid back, communal atmosphere at Morrison’s can also be found at the owner’s other restaurant, Jackon’s in Commack, and Red Fish, which once occupied Morrison’s current location.
No matter the setting, Poole has always welcomed families – after all, family is an integral part to any restaurant.
“There is a good evolution in food happening. People are becoming more and more adventurous and we like that,” she said. “I was once a 12-year-old hostess and to come to this community and see people my age coming in with their own kids, it’s a lovely circle. It’s a good coming out party.”
Morrison’s is located at 430 Woodbury Rd. and recently added a Sunday brunch that features a mimosa and bloody mary bar.
Check out www.morrisnsny.com for more information and call 516-932-8460 to make a reservation or just show up and take a seat.