Mory's comes back

Matthew Klein

Matthew Klein

Welsh rarebit, a mainstay on the Mory's menu. View full image

The foodie

“Please pay this very small, very overdue charge.” With one sentence written in 1980, the Mory’s Association terminated my membership. I’d been living in England for a year, and by the time I sent in a check for $15, it was too late.

I didn’t darken Mory’s door again until October, barely a month after its reopening. Now the membership rules have been relaxed, the whole place almost radically cleaned up, a new airy barroom added at the back and, even nicer, an outdoor patio with seating overlooking the back of Morse.

And the food has been spiffed up too, with maybe for-the-first-time attention to fresh ingredients, under the direction of Ben Bloom, of the Branford-based caterer La Cuisine. At lunch there were startlingly salad-y offerings, but reassuring amounts of bacon on the Mory’s chopped salad, along with semi-ethnic dishes like Thai chicken burrito and a grilled chicken quesadilla.

But really, these are beside the point. The point is to eat club food, and to not need to chew it. “I always called this the restaurant for people who don’t have teeth,” my friend Mariko Masuoka ’78, who with her husband Will Goetzmann ’78 has responsibly remained a member in good standing, told me. The cooks, however newly attuned to from-scratch cooking, wisely recognize this. The Welsh rarebit is now made with Pepperidge Farm, as a chef proudly explained (what were they using before?), and real butter rather than the “oleo” (margarine) the hallowed original recipe specified. It’s unchallengingly cheesy, with only a trace of mustard or really any flavor at all, and the thin-sliced white bread is still easily gummed. It’s awfully good, though, because where can you get Welsh rarebit anymore?

You’re here to have bacon, burgers, and fries, and that’s what will be reliable. The house-cut fries with the steak frites may be a little greasy and in need of salt, but they’re just fine, as is the big 12-ounce piece of aged New York strip steak. Maybe better, though, to avoid the seared Georges Bank sea scallop salad, unless you’re fine with dismayingly dry scallops, as most patrons likely are.

There’s a lot to like, and after all this is a very new and welcome effort. The classics really have been refurbished: Baker soup now starts with homemade chicken broth and fresh vegetables, and doesn’t even need the two cans of high-quality Madras curry powder the chef bragged about using in each eight-gallon batch, because there’s some genuine flavor in the soup itself.

There was no pie when we went—the service was almost comically bad and slow, in fact, through no actual intention of the very nice young server—but there was Indian pudding, and it was great. Like gingerbread with fresh squash and fine vanilla ice cream, and better even than the Indian pudding at Durgin-Park, in my adopted Boston, which is saying something. And what makes the Indian pudding quintessential Mory’s, aside from being served on initials-incised tables, even if they’re resting on strangely clean floors? Why, you don’t need teeth, of course. 

Corby Kummer ’78 is a senior editor of The Atlantic, editor of its online Food Channel, and restaurant critic for Boston magazine.