In spite of only having been established less than 3 years ago, Morries Anytime has become something of a Margaret River institution. It so well known and popular - the most blogged about restaurant in the region - that it feels like its always been there, and yet for all the regular visits Alissa and I have made over those same 3 years, we've never tried the food at Morries. With two nights set aside staying with our friends Cam and Nadia in Margaret River, Alissa and I were keen to rectify this oversight by trying the lunch and breakfast menus of 'Margaret Rivers first all day, anytime hospitality venue'.
A breakfast cafe, small bar and share plate joint all rolled into one, Morries has a very contemporary and on-trend vibe, complete with exposed beams, Edison-style lightbulbs and a somewhat monochromatic colour scheme set against wood tones.
The lunch menu featured two options for dining - a more traditional Mains size dish for individuals or smaller share plates. Wanting to try a few dishes, Alissa and I decided on the share plate option. Our first dish was fairly simple - Yallingup Wood Fired Bread, Morries Dukkah, Local Whirl Wind Farm Olive Oil.
The bread was really good; served hot and warm, the soft interior was only just cooked - in other words, perfect. The result was deliciously doughy, and dipped into the excellent quality Olive Oil and the salty and spicy flavour of the the house made Dukkah, this was a bread dish that was better than some bread we've been served at fine dining establishments.
Alissa and I knew we just had to try the Master Stock Pork Belly, Thai Caramel, Micro Coriander and we were not disappointed. The Pork Belly seemed to have been braised in a Master Stock for a lovely tenderness, before being deep fried for a crispy exterior and then smothered in a glaze of palm sugar. The Master Stock gifted the Pork with an abundance of flavour, while the sticky, treacly caramel worked in tandem for a one-two punch of salty-sweetness. Alissa felt that something leafy and fresh accompanying it would have been nice, comparing the dish to what we've been served in the Standard in Northbridge. I agreed but pointed out that this Pork Belly dish was a $11 versus the $25 asking price for the Standard's pork dish. Seeing my point, we came to the conclusion we probably should have ordered a leafy dish to go with our more meaty choices.
Twice Cooked Japanese Style Chicken, Kewpie Mayo was extraordinarily good, and was easily our favourite dish at Morries. The chicken tasted like it was either cooked sous-vide of slow poached, with the juicy and tender meat within having a silken quality not unlike really good Hainanese Chicken Rice. To then have that texture encased in a crispy Karaage crust with its ginger and sesame flavour made it all the more finger lickin' good. Throw in Kewpie mayo - that most umami relative of western mayonnaise - and this is a dish Alissa and I would definitely come back for.
Crispy Globe Artichokes, Fried Capers, Roasted Garlic and Almond Puree, Orange Oil, Micro Herbs was not in the same class as the Fried Chicken, and left us a bit underwhelmed. The Artichokes themselves were well cooked; I particularly liked how the outer 'fronds' were really crispy in contrast to the soft flesh within, how the Roasted Garlic and Almond Puree tasted almost like cheese and that the Fried Capers made for a nice crunchy, salty flavour explosion. The problem was it was so insubstantial it was over before it really began. Compare the 3 half pieces of Artichoke here to the 3 pieces of chicken in the Fried Chicken or one of their Sliders, and it just didn't seem worth it.
After a bit of a wait during which time we were beginning to think they forgot about our order, Chilli Salted Calamari, Chilli Jam + Lime arrived. One of their daily specials, this was okay, decent enough calamari - about what you'd expect of the dish. Alissa and I both felt it could have been crunchier, and compared it to the squid served at TQR in Nedlands (our gold standard for crunchy squid). Secondly, the Chilli Jam seemed to be a bit toned down for people who can't take the heat, and as people with strong chilli thresholds, Alissa and I were a bit disappointed. Alissa made a salient point that had this dish arrived earlier we may have been more impressed. This is something I've mentioned before regarding share plate restaurants - I know its more casual, but thought needs to go into how the experience is shaped in a manner similar to degustations and tasting menus. For example, if we'd been served our dishes in the order of Squid-Artichokes-Pork-Chicken, that would have been a great way to build the experience up to the high of the Chicken while allowing the light and shade of the different dishes to create a bit of a narrative. As it stood, the order did not favour our last two dishes, and they suffered for it.
Although the Squid and the Artichokes were a bit of a disappointment, the Chicken and the Pork were so good we were convinced to return for Breakfast the next day. I went with the famous Breaky Burger - Fried Egg, Bacon, Swiss Cheese, Aioli, Smokey Tomato Relish, Toast Milk Bun.
Basically, this was a classic bacon and egg breakfast burger - but every component was just that much better than any other breakfast burger I've had. The Bacon was really tasty, cooked to the right level - neither dry or limp, and the Egg was fried to a nice and fluffy consistency. I've always been a fan of Swiss Cheese in burgers, and that sweet, mild nuttiness went well with the flavours. The components that really pushed it over the line however were the bun and sauces. The milk bun was really light and soft as the best burger buns should be, while a light toasting on the outside gave it just enough crunch to give the bun some structural integrity. The dripping ooze of Aioli and Smoked Tomato Relish completed the picture, bringing back fond childhood memories of dripping burger juice from a Bacon Deluxe at Hungry Jacks. This of course was way better than Hungry Jacks, and I can see why this is such a popular option.
Alissa went healthy with her choice of Pan Fried Polenta, Roasted Pumpkin, Sauteed Kale, Activated Almonds, 63 Degree Egg, Avocado, Fresh Lemon. This was a particularly good Vegetarian breakfast, with the polenta having an incredibly fluffy scrambled eggs consistency, with its creaminess contrasted by the crispness of its pan fried sides. The Sous-Vide Egg was really well cooked, with a nice semi-set yolk that told me it had been given the right amount of time to set properly. The remaining vegetable components were all expertly prepared, with the sweet buttery Pumpkin and the slight bitterness of the kale providing interest and flavour.
The Verdict: Excellent
Alissa and I were happy that we finally got around to visiting Morries, and that we popped in for two of their Anytimes. Although not uniformly excellent - the Artichoke was very good but insubstantial, while the Squid being merely good - the majority of the dishes we ordered were of a high standard, with Twice Cooked Japanese Style Chicken and the Breaky Burger being excellent enough that I'm prepared to overlook some of the lesser dishes, and the fact our lunch would have flowed better if the dish order had been given some consideration. Service was attentive and friendly, and drinks were very good - we were able to choose West Winds and Plymouth Gins for our respective Gin and Tonics with lunch, and our breakfast coffee was a good Rubra blend made in a Synesso machine. With a dinner menu yet to be sampled, and an apparently outstanding cocktails list we didn't get to try, Alissa and I will definitely have to come to complete our Morries Anytime Trilogy in the near future.