Morris Jones

Blue swimmer crab and trout carpaccio stars at Morris Jones.
Blue swimmer crab and trout carpaccio stars at Morris Jones. Photo: Simon Schluter

163 Chapel Street Windsor, VIC 3181

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03 9533 2055
Opening hours Tues-Wed 3pm-12.30am,Thurs-Sun 10am-1am
Features Private dining, Bar
Prices Expensive (mains over $40)
Chef Matthew Butcher
Seats 140
Payments AMEX, Mastercard, Visa, eftpos

Meet you for a drink then grab a bite? Catch up for coffee? Do lunch? Morris Jones aims to hit whatever spot you've got.

The huge Victorian shop, refitted handsomely for all-day eating and drinking, opened in September 2011.

The dining room is separated from a drinking corral by an island bar, and there's a courtyard and a loft party zone. Check-shirted barkeepers fuel a shiny, happy mood. Cohabiting drinkers and diners can make for tricky times but the Morris Jones crew keeps things vibrant rather than ear-crashing.

Flexible: Morris Jones aims to hit whatever spot you've got.
Flexible: Morris Jones aims to hit whatever spot you've got. Photo: Simon Schluter

There's a palpable effort to do things a bit differently. A wood grill underpins the steak focus. The wine list is approachable and decently priced. Crepes make a change for breakfast or lunch (filled with ham, gruyere and fried egg, for example, or mushrooms, spinach and goat's cheese). They are also a good dessert option: the crepe with chocolate and hazelnut paste was my tasty pick of the desserts, but that's also because the other dessert I tried was less than pleasing.

''Almond macaron, coconut saffron ice-cream, passionfruit sorbet, vanilla tomatoes'', the menu says. It's pure reviewer bait: I feel obliged to order something that's either going to be brilliant or disastrous. Unfortunately, this was the latter, featuring an unyielding macaron disc wedged into coconut ice that reminded me of moisturiser. The passionfruit sorbet was fine but overbearing. Tomato and vanilla could be friends, but here they spoke only of a dish that was fussy to no avail.

Most of the other food was much better. An entree of blue swimmer crab meat and trout carpaccio was pretty and poised and got a nice kick in the pants from tart lemon jelly.

The pasta is made here: good thick-cut pappardelle was tossed with moist, tender shredded duck meat and sauteed mushrooms. A bit more attention would have kept the pasta strands from sticking together.

Snapper pot pie was creamy and fresh, but the pastry was flabby and the filling too wet. Freekeh (green wheat) should have starred in a side salad of cannellini and green beans, but the grain was under-seasoned and gluggy.

This experience was lacking but I still like Morris Jones for its flexibility and ardent spirit. With a little more refinement and attention to detail (including promptly returning phone calls), the eating could be as enjoyable as the hanging out.

ALSO TRY

Woods of Windsor, 108 Chapel Street, Windsor, 9521 1900. Mon to Fri, 11am-late; Sat to Sun, noon-late.

Eating and drinking are taken seriously at this dark-timber cave. Classy sandwiches are a lunch mainstay, followed by afternoon oysters and thoughtful contemporary dinners.

Hoo Haa, upstairs, 105 Chapel Street, Windsor, 9529 6900. Tues to Sun, 4pm-late.

Share plates and summery pizzas are the deal here. Snack on pickled green pepper fritters, fight over squid with jamon and chilli, and kick back over pizza with mushrooms, taleggio and green olives.

Hanoi Hannah, 180 High Street, Prahran, 9939 5181. Tues to Sun, lunch; daily, dinner.

Hawker-style Vietnamese food and happy cocktails make for easy, breezy times.

http://www.morrisjones.com.au