Monday, December 21, 2009

The Morrissey House

Promoting The Recognition of Cuisine as a Manifestation of Culture.

The Morrissey House

The Mo’ — “Where Every Day is Like Sunday”

Traditionally, the pub that people frequent most often is referred to as their local. Despite its etymology, the fundamental nature of a local would seem to be only partly geographical. A local is the neighbourhood pub nearest to your home. However, some denizens choose their local for other reasons: proximity to their workplace, convenience as an informal meeting place for friends, the availability of a unique selection of beers, innovative pub food offerings, or perhaps the traditional pub game: darts. More often than not, the idiosyncratic nature of a local will lend itself to organized events several times a month, ranging from pub quiz/trivia nights to live music, as is the case of the Morrissey House on Dundas Street.
Proprietor Mark Serré, a 12-year veteran of the Spoke at UWO and an 8-year veteran of GT’s, wants to make The Morrissey House feel like your living room. It’s a place where you enjoy a sense of familiarity, knowing with certainty that you will always run into a friend — even if the friend is someone on staff. “The Mo’,” as The Morrissey House is often referred to, is a natural hub for the inhabitants of its immediate area and an important meeting place where people can gather in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere.
The Morrissey, which opened this past July, has quickly become a popular neighbourhood watering hole, serving interesting and innovative pub fare to clients of a very wide demographic. Situated in London’s downtown hotel district, The Morrissey House is hospitable, intimate and friendly. This neighbourhood pub accommodates 120 seats in six rooms. The beer offerings are comprehensive and the bar features 18 draught taps and 18 affordable wines by the glass. The wines are mostly the usual suspects, including a riesling from Niagara and a merlot from British Columbia.
This past summer, the 60-seat patio, set back from the street, become both an industry and neighbourhood hot spot, attracting its fair share of foot traffic and hotel business. In the resurrected heritage yellow brick house once occupied by the Oxford Arms, the main floor has undergone renovations and a significant refurbishment. Gone is the staircase to nowhere at the entrance, and the front door has been changed, making the entry more inviting and accessible. The premises have been reconfigured to improve capacity and traffic flow. The establishment offers plenty of choices in terms of nicely upholstered, comfortable and sturdy chairs and tables that afford plenty of elbow room. There is colourful and thought-provoking original art on the walls, which are painted with warm colours, and many of the building’s original heritage features are still in evidence. Two rooms have fireplaces, one for ambience only, the other working and able to provide solace during cold winter weather. The bar area itself has been redesigned and it is divided into two distinct areas. Two of the rooms can be closed off by pocket doors, allowing privacy for private parties.
Speaking of private parties, the fact that Ceeps and Barney’s had their Christmas party at The Mo’ this November speaks to the measure of industry credibility. The Morrissey House website emphasizes that it is not an Irish pub, a British pub, a gastro pub, a resto pub, a sports bar or a luncheon spot…but a local. “We want to convey the feeling that all are welcome, that we are good neighbours and that we have a sense of community. The Morrissey is a living space and we want people to feel like they are going over to a friend’s house for a dinner party. The atmosphere is comfortable and warm, the music is non-intrusive, and the service is caring. The idea is that guests will walk in and know fellow guests as they feel that same sense of community.”
Proprietor Mark Serré is also a savvy social media strategist who has opened up a two-way communication between himself and the customer. The Morrissey House has a Facebook page, a WordPress blog application on their website, and can also be found on Twitter. This has allowed Serré to constantly update and inform his clients about what The Mo’ has on offer, as well as allowing feedback about what the pub is doing well and what they can improve upon. One side benefit of this type of social media strategy is the ability to conduct a free focus group. Once you’ve opened up the lines of communication, joined the conversation and engaged your customers, there’s the opportunity to create a larger community around your brand — something the Morrissey House seems to be successfully accomplishing and part of what Serré’s business plan has been predicated on.
Although I originally visited the Morrissey House twice, just two weeks after it opened, it had the feel of a well-oiled, smooth running and long-established operation. The menu is contemporary with everything from ’Wichcraft (read sandwich) and a variety of burgers, to a jambalaya that was reminiscent of paella, with shrimp, chicken, chorizo and flavoured with piri piri. The classic pub fare of fish and chips was in this instance fresh flaky haddock served with the option of sweet potato fries. Mo’sa Fe Salad, a mélange of chicken, corn, black beans, tomatoes, mixed greens and romaine lettuce with tortilla strips, mixed in a spicy peanut vinaigrette, is a standout. The sausage plate with locally produced hunter, chorizo and village sausages, bread, a duo of cheeses and generous pots of dipping mustards makes a great sharable appetizer. Chef Ricardo brings a definite Portuguese influence to many of the offerings. The website cautions that they plan on making changes to the menu on a regular basis, and this has been my experience.
A Sunday breakfast with out-of-town guests was a hit on two occasions. Our server tells us that Eggs Benedict is the popular choice. The coffee is good. The desserts are top-notch and homemade, just not in their home. They are purchased from La Pâtisserie Fine Cakes and Pastries in Kitchener. Gelatos are locally produced by Coppa di Gelato. Everyday is like Sundae, with strawberry, coconut and chocolate gelato scoops, whipped cream, cherries, caramel sauce, chocolate fudge, cashews and crème anglaise, is fast becoming their signature dessert offering.
When I go out to eat, if I have good food and attentive service in a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere, the potential exists to become a loyal customer. When I make an authentic connection with a professional staff member, the chef or the proprietor, I want to be a faithful supporter of the business. When my custom is appreciated, I always make a determined effort to promote a new establishment. Like most diners, I’m also inclined to share the experience with others. By feeling valued, I instinctively want to introduce their business to other patrons. This is the experience of the Morrissey House.

The Morrissey House
359–361 Dundas Street
London, ON

Hours of Operation:
Monday – Wednesday: 11 a.m. to midnight
Thursday: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Friday: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. to midnight

Chef Andrew Harris has come up with a menu to please those that like food. Portions are ample, the selections are varied and the spice is as promised- as it should be! Comfortable, recognizable, and yet with our own twist. We make almost everything in house including our salad dressings and all of our dips and sauces. We want to be able to serve the freshest food that we are able to, and to that end, will eventually source as much locally as we are able to.
We also like to change our menus- all of our menus, beer, wine, and food! Seasonal selections are important, and again, that mix of food is important! This is not your average roadhouse/pub menu.
Caterings are offered- at our house or yours! In house, we will cater from 10- 80, canapés to a full roast beef dinner! We can make it casual- nachos and other finger foods- to formal- we can even do table cloths! Chef Andrew has a wonderful imagination and will impress with the artistry and quality of his offerings. Please call (519 204 9220) or email ( if you would like more information, or if you would like to discuss your options.
So please, click on the pages offered, but even better, come out to the restaurant and enjoy!

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