Sunday, August 21, 2011
Exclusive Sneak Preview of Morso Lounge
Matthew "Choo" Lipsky behind the bar at the sleek, upper-level Morso Lounge. (Photos: jamco new media)
When I got a last-minute invite to be the first person to check out Matt Maroni's highly anticipated Morso's upstairs lounge for Saturday night, hell yeah I said yes.
I didn't know what to expect from the guy known as the poster boy for Chicago's food truck movement and the owner of Gaztro-wagon, which cranks out delicious street food sandwiches and such almost daily.
I guess I expected an extension of Gaztro-wagon—which was what we got—yet delivered with far more sophistication than could be done on a mobile vehicle. The cuisine and cocktails have phenomenal potential.
Morso's mixologist is Matthew "Choo" Lipsky, formerly of The Southern. What Choo loves about this opportunity is that he's allowed to go absolutely crazy behind the bar, allowing him to create concoctions behind his wildest dreams by using ingredients and spirits typically overlooked by other bartenders.
Choo's The Elixir cocktail made of Pisco, pineapple and lime, and topped with clove and Prosecco.
We chose to settle in at the two-seat bar instead of one of the few tables in the small, narrow space that was completely renovated by Maroni. A wood-burning fireplace is anchored squarely in the center of the room, and another two-top is strategically place at the front of the room that overlooks bustling Armitage Avenue. The room's design itself is nonfussy and minimalist.
Choo's opening cocktail menu consists of nine drinks, and we ordered four, including The Elixir (Pisco, pineapple and lime, topped with Prosecco and clove) and Monkshood (bourbon, apple juice, homemade molasses and topped with a walnut).
These were great sippers alone and also complemented the many dishes that came our way. Unfortunately, we didn't get to sample any of the lounge fare, but we did chow down on items from the regular menu: tuna carpaccio with lobster and mango; crispy oysters and crab cake in a zesty scallop sauce; and thinly cut antelope with mushrooms and crispy chiles.
The wild boar belly dish accompanied by white beans and dates in an olive puree was by far my favorite and was pretty much a cassoulet. It went very well with that Monkshood cocktail.
Morso opens to the public Tuesday. The lounge menus are below:
TRUFFLE HONEY . SESAME CHILI CRACKERS . CANDIED PECANS
PORK BELLY NUGGETS
TEMPURA . DATES . BRIE FONDUE
PEEL & EAT SHRIMP
COCKTAIL . LEMON . HORSERADISH . CRACKERS
FRESH MOZZARELLA . PESTO
CHORIZO . MANCHEGO . HERBS . TOMATO REMOULADE
APRICOTS . WALNUTS . CRISPY ANAHEIM PEPPERS . CROSTINI
TOMATO REMOULADE . CRESS . AVOCADO . EGG . FRITES
MALDON SEA SALT . EVOO
CROSTINI . LARDO
BURGER . CAPICOLLA . PROVOLONE . MORNAY . FRIED EGG . FRITES
SAMBAL AIOLI . GREMMOLATA
CUCUMBER . WHITE PEPPER . MINT . LEMON
LILLET BLANC . PEAR . LIME . BITTERS
GINGER . STAR ANISE . BLACK TEA . LEMON . ORANGE
MASTIHA . LEMON . PLUM
PINEAPPLE . CLOVE . LIME . PROSECCO
AMARETTO . CREAM . FIG . CINNAMON
WALNUT . APPLE . MOLASSES
BLUEBERRY . SAGE . TRIPLE SEC . LIME
ESPRESSO . RYE WHISKEY . COCOA WHIP CREAM . MAPLE