If you haven’t ventured down Huajiu Lu recently, you might be surprised to know that one of the area’s oldest pubs is gone, its recognizable green and orange sign replaced with a new emblem sporting seven glowing letters: Morgan’s.
While the inside layout of its precursor, The Tavern, is left much intact, longtime patrons will rejoice to know that the smoky, dark interior has taken on a much livelier look. Fresh paint beautifies the walls and ceiling and new flooring has supplanted its battered and weathered predecessor.
During the revamping, the wise minds at Morgan’s also added a couple booths and new furniture to ensure that you can eat, drink and be merry – or pray, if you’re the monk that frequents the place – in comfort.
One of the biggest changes – and most celebrated by families with children – is that the ground floor of Morgan’s is a no-smoking zone, which means taking your virgin-lunged offspring out for a bite to eat is no problem here. Smokers: you still have the upstairs where the pool tables and darts are located.
While there are some holdovers from the ol’ Tavern days (like the invigorating chicken tikka masala, RMB78), Morgan’s culinary offerings are categorically more robust than that of its forerunner – you might even go as far as saying the menu is a quasi-United Nations of pub food. Case and point: there’s a kids’ menu, vegetarian and health-conscious options, six (sometimes seven) Tex-Mex dishes and a sashimi-style tuna appetizer.
Looking for a light snack? Order the mussels in white wine sauce (RMB48) or the bruschetta (RMB38), the latter of which comes topped with mozzarella, tomato, basil pesto and garlic shrimp. For a group of two or more people, the Mediterranean sampler (RMB68) goes great with wine and comes with roasted eggplant, tabbouleh, pita bread, feta, olives, tzatziki and pickled vegetables.
For those craving for a filling, no-frills main, the meatball sandwich (RMB65) is going to impress. Made with a fresh French baguette rammed (with care) full of near-pool-ball-sized orbs of tender beef, marinara sauce and a generous portion of mozzarella cheese, this is the Italian-French hand-cannon hybrid you’ve been waiting for.
The New York-style spicy beef pizza (RMB78) is another hit, amongst both longtime patrons and newcomers alike. It packs a zesty – yet manageable – punch and, on our last visit, came cooked to perfection with a crunchy thin crust and generous portion of protein.
For many, dessert is key to capping off the dining experience, and Morgan’s offers four options for the sweet-toothed: bread and butter pudding (RMB38), tiramisu (RMB38), apple crumble (RMB42) and chocolate cake (RMB38).
There is also a substantial wine menu, with a wide selection at extremely competitive prices. Our pick? The ‘Columbus’ merlot from Spain, which goes for RMB138 per bottle.
What do the author and monks have in common? If you took the cue from ‘The Place’ portion of this review, you probably guessed it: both hang out at Morgan’s. And while it may seem irrelevant to revisit the fact that – and here it is again – monks frequent the premises, it truly speaks volumes about the welcoming and diverse nature of the place. It’s homely. It’s warm. The conversation is good. And you know for certain that you will be received with open arms.
Who’s going: monks, pool sharks, old timers and young whippersnappers alike
Good for: good banter, homely atmosphere, comfort food