Motel Morris is a great restaurant to have in your back pocket. It is conveniently positioned in Chelsea, right above the subway, so it’s an excellent meeting spot for those on the West Side. The aesthetic is the right mix of cute and casual; a vibe that fits a wide variety of social settings and groups. Whether a girls’ dinner, date night, or family visits, the food (elevated new American) will please most diners.
The décor is a playful, retro homage to the 1960s with cozy, elevated glamour. In the center of the restaurant lies a large bar, but the low ceilings and navy walls make the space seem small and cozy. The wooden tables, blue velvet booths, retro black-and-white paintings, and mod, brass light fixtures pull together the elegant, retro vibe perfectly. Kitschy, playful touches like pink pens and matchbooks, and pastel, floral wallpaper in the bathrooms add a bit of personality.
There’s a great wine and coffee program—we ordered coffees all around. They have a well-curated selection of seasonal brunch cocktails, like the “Sweater Weather,” with bourbon, grapefruit, lemon, and nutmeg, and the “Mind Your Own Beeswax,” made with gin, honey, lemon, cucumber, and lavender bitters. Unfortunately, none of us could imbibe today; not even for the enticing boozy ice cream floats, which definitely warrant a return visit.
The first rule of brunch is if there are doughnuts on the menu, they must be ordered. The same goes for their close cousins beignets and fritters. We were all pleased with the ricotta fritters, served with ricotta schmear, rhubarb compote, toasted almonds, and basil. They were the perfect mix of sweet-and-savory, and it’s hard to go wrong with carbs stuffed with cheese. Moreover, the focus on seasonal flavors shone through from the first bite of brunch.
The eggs Benedict was just that: a classic eggs Benny with grilled ham, poached eggs and Hollandaise on an English muffin. It was a classic execution of a classic dish, crafted with fresh, seasonal ingredients—the quality is there, and you can taste it.
Appropriately, I ordered the Eggs Morris, given my namesake. This was essentially another Benedict, but with a chorizo spread over the English muffin. It was good—but would prefer and recommend a classic chorizo Benny (with an actual piece of chorizo) rather than just a layer of schmear.
The huevos rancheros and shakshuka were both crowd-pleasing dishes. The huevos was a classic take: eggs sunny-side up, black beans, cheddar cheese, and a generous helping of marinated skirt steak. The guajillo peppers added a nice spice, and the jalapeño crema avocado added a creamy, rich flavor that elevated the dish.
The shakshuka was a large skillet of tomato, peppers, and tahini baked with feta and eggs—a classic Middle Eastern/Israeli version of the dish, rather than the Italianized version you often see. It was packed with flavor and served with griddled white bread.
While they didn’t look like much, the buttermilk pancakes were something else. The flapjacks were made with a cinnamon swirl, and topped with a cream cheese frosting—basically, a cinnamon roll pancake. We ordered a plate for the table and each subtly jockeyed for a bigger piece of the stack. These pancakes were packed with flavor, fluffy and moist. Better yet, they were not cloyingly sweet.
The Bitches say: A. Motel Morris has a charming, well-appointed ambiance, great service, and a menu of delicious, comforting, and seasonal new American fare that satisfies pretty much anyone.
Motel Morris Serves Brunch on Saturday and Sundays starting at 11:00 a.m on Saturday and 10:00 am on Sunday.