Mory's comes back

Matthew Klein

Matthew Klein

Baker's soup: chicken, tomato, curry, and croutons. View full image

The Veteran

There it was atop the menu: Baker soup. Of course we ordered it.

Freddy Baker, Class of 1909, was a medical doctor, a little round man who sat alone, always alone, at a small table lit by a ground-floor window near the wall where the men’s room used to be. (There’s a lot new about the new Mory’s, including a new men’s room, with new urinals replacing those giant old ones you could almost fall into.) Baker, a fervid but noiseless Yale football fan, was so loyal, so constant, that the Mory’s governors named a soup for him—chicken, tomato, curry, and croutons—that became a standard.

My dining companion at the new Mory’s, Mac Marshman ’45, had been the author of a brilliant column for the Yale Daily News during 1942–43. In one, he censured Mory’s for its high prices and cheeky waiters. Dr. Baker fumed and did not forget. Seven years had passed, a worldwide war had concluded, when notice of Marshman’s engagement to the daughter of a prominent New Haven family appeared in the Register. Dr. Baker knew the family, and he told the father, “Better watch out. That fellow your daughter’s engaged to: he’s no good.” (Marshman adds that, despite those remarks, Baker sent a “handsome silver wedding present.”)

The old Mory’s that Marshman and I remembered was seldom regarded as a gourmet restaurant. But the new lunch menu and the wine list showed promise. Baker soup was not quite as sharp as I thought I remembered it, while the seared scallops in the Georges Bank sea scallop salad were delicious when extracted from supermarket greens. Of course, we concluded with the famous Indian pudding and were rewarded.

We also admired the renovation, which preserves the old atmosphere while bringing in more light. Our lunch was served by a sparky young woman from West Haven. She got her job through Craigslist, she told us in a non-cheeky way.

We all know drink and song have been Mory’s pillars since its inception. In the last month of our freshman year, January 1943, we went to see Casablanca in the afternoons and to Mory’s at nights, scraping together the $10 for Green Cups. We were going in the service the next month and we might not come back. We didn’t sing much.

Now they have not only Green Cups but also Red, Blue, Gold, Purple, and Velvet Cups. Another innovation is the outdoor patio off the elegant new bar. In the floor of the patio are commemorative bricks; individual ones can be purchased for $100 by friends of the new Mory’s.

We were delighted to find one inscribed: J Frederic Baker Class of 1909.

William N. Wallace ’45W is the corresponding secretary for his class and author of Yale’s Ironmen.