LOS FELIZ SCOTTISH GASTROPUB AIMS TO PLEASE
There’s nothing like having a cool neighborhood hang; a go-to spot for killer food and even meaner drinks. And if it’s really on-the-ball, people will make it a destination place they must visit for eats and libations. The lucky locals in Los Feliz have been cherishing The Morrison since it arrived in December 2012.
While everything seems to shine when it is brand spanking new, once the honeymoon phase is over (and in this town, time really flies), you better be a crowd-pleaser if you hope to last. And with local institutions like Tam O’Shanter, and The Griffin nearby, not to mention Bigfoot Lodge East just across the street, competition is fierce for foodies and boozers’ attention and loyalty.
Named after founding partner Charles Lew’s mother’s surname (and grandfather), Morrison, with over 40 beers on tap, really makes an effort to be and inviting and casual place where friends and family can hangout.
“Morrison is one of the more ancient clans in Scotland, and the family was a very established family,” Lew explains. “There were three local nurses that would look after entire towns, and my mother was the nurse for the town we grew up in. Scotland is very much the kind of place where doors are open to everyone. So conceptually, I wanted to create a pub that embraced the Scottish feeling, culture and pride, but that also introduced a modern and more palatable twist. I wanted Morrison to be a place where you don’t have to be an expert on single malts, but if you were, our bar staff could take you on a journey. Basically, I wanted the space to have all the wonderful and comfortable elements I grew up with in Scotland.”
During our recent visit for a fun night out, Beverage Director Steve Calabro, the man behind The Benjamin—the $100 margarita at Red O—not mention time spent at Craig’s in West Hollywood in addition to running BartendingBootcamp.com, a premiere mixology video series on YouTube, took us on a wild sojourn as we indulged in savory Scottish fare.
We started with Jaron’s Sazerac, a mighty mix of Bulleit Bourbon, angostura bitters, peychaud bitters, Baker’s sugar, and absinth. I’m a fan of a good Sazerac and I’m always impressed when you find one made right. This one really hit the spot.
Likewise, the Kilt Lifter (love that name!), made with Glen Garioch single malt scotch, fresh apple and lemon juice, agave, and orange liqueur, packs a refined wallop.
Bites wise, we started with the phenomenal Pork Belly Bites, prepared with maple hot sauce and sea salt. They cut like butter and taste exceptional.
Not to be outdone, the Shepherd’s Pie, made with stout braised short rib, blue cheese mash, and crispy onions is a sensational Scottish dish. The portions aren’t huge if you’re famished so it’s best to get a couple of dishes if you’re sharing, otherwise you’ll definitely be satisfied and with room leftover for a cocktail or two.
Speaking of drinks, Round Two featured the Texas Stone Fruit—a refreshing grapefruit infused vodka Stone IPA beer concoction. I am definitely not an IPA guy but I did enjoy the drink’s balance and subtlety.
And leave it to Calabro and owner Marc Kreiner’s sense of humor to come up with Arnold’s Maid—a mix of La Pinta pomegranate, fresh OJ and Witte beer. As Maria Shriver found out, the unassuming little ones can sneak up on you so watch out!
Another menu favorite is the Ale Steamed Black Mussels with tarragon, garlic, orange butter, and toast. These are great to share or a meal all their own. You’ll want to make sure to soak up every drop of the beer broth with the tasty toast.
Round Three included the Morrison Gimlet, made with Hendricks gin, fresh lime, and sweetened cucumber. This refreshing beverage is so soothing and goes down too easy.
Meanwhile, the Morrison Manhattan mixed with Jim Bean Rye, Veev, sweet vermouth and aromatic bitters with a Luxardo cherry, which showcases Calabro’s molecular background, as it is served inside a liquid sphere that you crack open to access the burst of cherry flavor, is a solid drink although I found it slightly off balance. And with every bar (at least it seems that way) making Manhattans these days, this one didn’t jump out at me. I don’t think I’d personally go the Jim Bean route but that’s just me.
For our entrees we went with two menu favorites. And let me tell you, the craft beer battered Fish & Chips served with proper tartar sauce and pickles are a homerun as far as pub fare is concerned. It may not be on par with Son of a Gun (who I think serve the best Fish & Chips…sorry Connie and Ted’s) but this dish is as good as Scottish comfort food gets—along with the Shepherd’s Pie.
And kudos to Chef Michael Ruiz for his best selling Morrison Filet Burger, a petite filet served on an English muffin with Port Salut cheese, remoulade and marrow butter. I was a little skeptical about a burger on an English muffin, one, you know it won’t be too big, and two, you’d think it wouldn’t be very savory as, say Hawaiian bread, but this is a damn fine burger. Morrison always features a Burger of the Month, most recently they had a Big Jack Burger with two 50/50 chuck-short rib patties, sauce, lettuce, cheddar, pickles and onions (sounds delish!) but I really hope the Morrison Filet Burger, a vicious little bad boy, always stays on the menu.
Time for one more drink before dessert and Round Four came with a knockout. The Applewood, made with Wild Turkey bourbon, house smoked apple juice, sweetened yerba mate tea, and peychaud takes no prisoners. That, and the Butterscotch Bread Pudding with whiskey sauce and vanilla bean ice cream, is the way to round out a great night out.
Determined to make his Morrison a neighborhood staple, owner Marc Kreiner, who is also opening the meatball loving Ball & Chain on Cahuenga, believes in giving back to the community, often donating to the Downtown Women’s Center, a local non-profit dedicated to supporting homeless and low-income women in their quest to make a transition in their lives.
“Our team loves to challenge themselves, so we strive to make this all part and parcel of Morrison’s continued evolution of becoming its own unique establishment, which we hope is a lively upscale neighborhood pub, as well as a premier dining and drinking destination for people who want something a little different,” says Kreiner. “That is what we are all about.”
The Morrison is located at 3179 Los Feliz Blvd. Open Mon-Thurs 4pm-11pm; Fri and Sat 4pm – 1am; Sun 11am – 11pm. Happy Hour is daily from 4-7pm. Call 323-667-1839.
By: Jose Martinez.
Photography courtesy of: The Morrison