The Morrison Bar & Oyster Room sits on a prime corner of George Street. Close enough to Circular Quay to attract Sydney’s tourists, and just a short walk away for thousands of hungry office workers. And, despite what’s been called a ‘New York’ interior The Morrison feels very Sydney esk. I say this in a good way – the atmosphere is fun and casual, and it’s definitely not taking itself too seriously.
When you arrive at The Morrison don’t just grab the first empty table (or the one that’s been allocated) because you may end up ‘table hopping’ when you see another one you prefer. You can choose to sit in The Conservatory (an open air terrace), The Oyster Bar or grab a cosy window table. ‘Table hopping’ – often in the quest to get a better view – is one of my habits that annoys my husband. He usually asks when we first sit down ‘now are you really happy here?’ Surely this isn’t just me?
The menu reflects the philosophy of Head Chef Sean Connolly that ‘everything tastes better on the bone or in the shell’. When I saw this statement on the menu I was excited – it feels like a real point of difference that The Morrison can own.
On choosing The Morrison I was aware that Sean Connolly has many years of experience at the head of top kitchens and has chefs hats under his belt. What I didn’t know, as I do now, is that he shares my Yorkshire heritage. More about that to come.
Despite the fun atmosphere The Morrison takes their food very seriously – using local suppliers, supporting Australian growers and choosing produce for its seasonality. A classic, surprise example of this is the ‘Kaitaia Fire’ chilli pepper sauce on the table – it’s an organic product made in New Zealand (see more here). No doubt it would be easier and cheaper for The Morrison to offer more readily available, and imported, Tabasco sauce. And they could get away with offering ordinary butter – but they don’t…….
The bread and butter
I am sure the neighbouring table overheard my broadcast of delight when I saw Pepe Saya butter featured on the menu. I’ve been addicted to this cultured and hand-made butter at home for a while now. It’s some of the creamiest butter on offer in Australia with a loyal following. So if you haven’t tried Pepe Saya butter and don’t have a Qantas first class flight booked any time soon (only first class butter gets served in first class) get yourself some to try at home. It’s sold in Harris Farm Markets and other good stores. Check out pepesaya.com.au for a cool video showing how it’s made.
Based on my declaration of love for Pepe Saya’s butter this you won’t be surprised to see bread and butter was the first thing I ordered.
The oyster menu at The Morrison changes often – to ensure the best oysters available in Australia at any one time are offered. They’re shucked to order and a mixed dozen is the perfect accompaniment to a fabulous cocktail or a glass of champers. On Wednesdays you can even feast on oysters without worrying about your wallet – they’re $1 each from 5pm to 7pm.
I’m the first to admit I’m not an oyster fan but when I find a restaurant that celebrates them in such style I always order a few.
Pork hock is also known as pork knuckle – it’s the piece of the pig that sits between the foot/ankle and the ham. Because this cut of meat contains significant skin, tendons and ligaments an extended cooking time through stewing or braising is essential. Why am I explaining this? Because for main course I shared the slow cooked pork hock with my dining companion.
As I mentioned Sean Connolly, was born and raised in the same part of Yorkshire as myself, West Yorkshire. Everyone knows Yorkshire for Yorkshire puddings but it’s a lesser known fact that Yorkshire folk love a good pork knuckle – often with a side of Yorkshire puddings. So it really was an easy choice of main.
The pork was tender and stringy and the skin crispy. It comes with a generous watercress salad and caper gravy and could serve 3-4 people with sides. For $55 it’s fantastic value, especially considering the quality of pork. I really did feel like little Miss Piggy after devouring the whole thing between two. Given the relative unfamiliarity of pork hock to Australian diners I’m guessing not many customers choose it over the slow cooked lamb shoulder. But if you visit The Morrison be adventurous and give it a go. Here’s another close up image in case you’re still in doubt:
I could go on for an age about the joys of cooking potatoes in duck fat. I personally buy a whole duck and make duck fat at home (see my recipe here). Jamie Oliver is a famous advocate and I came across this quote from Sean Connolly himself in a Good Food article: ”We used to cook everything in beef dripping when I was growing up,” the Yorkshire-born chef said. ”But duck fat gives the chips a beautifully sweet, meaty flavour.” Taste aside the other benefit of ordering these is that you’re avoiding nasty vegetable oils that overdose your body with omega 6 fatty acids.
If you’re keen to make these at home check out the Good Food recipe here.
The second side I tried, to see if if was as good as the version I make at home, was the cabbage and parmesan slaw. I wasn’t disappointed. It worked well with the crunchy chips and meat in your mouth pork hock.
Would I return?
I’ll be back at The Morrison for a winter feast, and would love to see a couple of new slow-cooked meats on the menu. I’d encourage all foodies who love great produce to call in next time you’re wondering where to try in Sydney’s CBD.
The Morrison have replicated a winning Sydney formula of making over a tired old bar to give it a new life for a party crowd (it was previously the Brooklyn Hotel). The only downside of this is that I felt that many customers would visit without giving the carefully planned and lovingly executed food the level of appreciation it deserves.
- There’s always something on at The Morrison to distract Sydney’s CBD crowd from heading home. At the time of writing you can enjoy $1 oysters from 6pm-7pm on Wednesdays and $5 drinks daily from 5pm-7pm. Visit themorrison.com.au for the latest goings on.
- The Morrison is a fantastic venue for groups, but note that groups of 13 or more must pick from one of the set menus.
- Burger lover? What was originally Parlour Bar next door to The Morrison has been converted to Parlour Burger – it’s a dedicated burger bar where the $10 price and variety of types on offer may entice you to have a second.
- 225 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
- 02 9247 6744
- Book online or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Open daily from 11.30am until late
- Twitter @TheMorrisonSyd