World-traveling tastes at Morgan’s American Grill

Thursday, June 22, 2006

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bill Ryan⁄the Gazette
Chef Brandon Thamarus with Surf and Turf at Morgan’s American Grill in New Market.

Morgan’s American Grill, open for a little over two years, is a surprising gem along the Old National Pike. It stands just east of Route 75 North, and east of downtown New Market.

Although located in an area known for antiques, no mustiness or relics of the past are evident at Morgan’s.

We were 30 minutes early, but we were cheerfully told that our table was ready. I believe that was a first for us.

A warm, welcoming glow awaited us as we entered the airy dining area. The restaurant basks in the glow of subdued lighting, which brings out the warm color theme of maize, cinnamon and nutmeg.

The same ‘‘spicy” theme is carried out in the tables, which feature maize centers with nutmeg trim. At each setting, large, square plates were topped with black, artfully folded napkins. Comfortable padded chairs surround the tables.

There is a feeling of sophisticated simplicity in the décor.

Servers wear black outfits, which match the napkins. To continue the theme, our beverages arrived sporting black straws.

Hot bread with plenty of butter was served in a large rectangular basket. Our salads, which accompany the entrees, were served on black plates. Ample dressings were served on the side in a small glass bowl —more work than the plastic container, but a nice touch. The dressings tasted homemade.

Fresh sliced mushrooms and cucumber slices were served on crisp, cold mixed greens. We felt the addition of cherry tomatoes and croutons would have been nice.

The cuisine sparkles with eclectic selections from various styles, regions and methods, and the food is as imaginatively designed and presented as the décor.

Morgan’s American Grill
11717 Old National Pike New Market
All major credit cards
Handicapped accessible Reservations suggested 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday (bar open until midnight); noon to 8 p.m. Sunday
Morgan’s Chicken Chesapeake, marinated grilled chicken breast topped with Imperial crab and finished with melted provolone cheese ($19.95); Peaches and Cream Chicken, sautéed chicken breast finished with peaches, lemon and cream ($16.95); and the Rockfish special of the evening — broiled rockfish served in a thin parchment wrapping ($19.95) —delighted three in our group.

One lady, referring to the rockfish, said, ‘‘You can put this down as an A plus.”

Two ordered Hawaiian Grilled Tuna — fresh tuna steak, grilled with pineapple and finished with a soy-ginger glaze ($17.95) — while another ordered stuffed flounder, two fillets of flounder baked with crab Imperial ($19.95).

I was anxious to see and, yes, taste the peaches and cream chicken. The gentleman who ordered the dish was willing to share and it was delicious.

The sauce was creamy with a sweet lemon taste. It was topped with pecans and three peach slices.

Our delicious meals were served with red skin mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley.

A signature dish at Morgan’s is Tournedos Chesapeake. Twin medallions of beef sit on French baguettes and are topped with crabmeat, asparagus and Béarnaise sauce for $27.95.

Equally creative are Morgan’s renditions of pasta, chicken, fish and seafood, pork, beef and surf and turf.

Morgan’s has an extensive list of mouthwatering appetizers and several soup choices. The onion soup gratinee sounds outstanding. Onions, red wine, thyme, garlic and beef stock is finished with melted Provolone cheese. A ‘‘must” choice on our next visit!

Innovative salads include a fisherman’s salad of grilled marinated shrimp and scallop brochette served on a bed of lettuce ($8.95), and chicken and grape salad containing grilled chicken breast and grapes mixed in a house cream cheese dressing, topped with pecans, and served on a bed of fresh greens ($9.95).

We sat and talked a while before we decided to let our server tempt us with the dessert menu. I told our friends it is my duty to try the desserts. They believed me!

My husband and I shared a piece of up-side-down apple walnut pie, which was served warm with vanilla ice cream. Sharing was difficult. We were told the pies are made daily and there are never any leftovers. We could understand the sell-out, as it was outstanding.

Our friends shared apple walnut bread pudding with whiskey sauce. They enjoyed every bite. The plates — with pretty swirls of colored syrup and small mounds of whipped cream — were as attractively decorated as the desserts were exceptional.

Coffee, served to two in the party, came in large, stylish white cups.

Morgan’s lunch menu is equally as diverse as the dinner menu with interesting sandwiches and wraps. A kid’s menu offers six choices.

On Texas Tuesdays, visitors can enjoy BBQ baby back ribs for $12.95. Wild Wednesdays offer fresh flounder stuffed with crabmeat for $15.95. Catch TGITs, when a 10 oz. cut of slow roasted au jus prime rib with horseradish cream sauce can be enjoyed for $15.55.

On the first Wednesday of the month, live acoustic music fills the bar area.

Catering, either on or off premises, and two banquet rooms are also offered at Morgan’s.

At Morgan’s, in a setting that evokes a continental flavor, you will find food that tingles your taste buds and scintillates your senses.