- 1. We attended two mostly free evenings as part of Morgan’s on Nicollet’s VIP and Friends and Family nights. VIP night was entirely free aside from alcohol and the Family and Friends Night allowed for some free and/or reduced price entrees. Please take what follows with as much salt as you feel is necessary following this government required disclosure.
2. This is a 1450 word review. If you’d like to skip the background and VIP night stuff and head right for the full menu review please do yourselves a favor and click here.
On both Friday and Saturday we visited Burnsville’s newest restaurant in town, Morgan’s on Nicollet located within the newly renovated Nicollet Inn (the old Holiday Inn space on Nicollet and CR-42). Splitting the physical distance between Chianti Grill and Porter Creek Hardwood Grill, Morgan’s on Nicollet aspires to be a gastropub serving up innovative twists on traditional pub fare while serving upscale craft beers and competing with the other restaurants of similar caliber in the immediate area.
Backed by the owners of Rudy’s Redeye Grill, both the physical appearance of the restaurant as well as the menu mostly mirrors what you’d see at their RRG locations around the metro. Dark woods, booth seating facing into the restaurant, and an extensive bar makes up the majority of Morgan’s on Nicollet. With capacity set at just over 170 and a bar which can handle approximately 35 patrons, this is a large space but certainly not the largest the chain owns. While the tables and bar dominate the majority of the space, a gas powered fireplace sits in the middle faced by a single sofa which provides an awkward seating area to wait for tables for only a handful of patrons.
Beer menu: as of right now, being that there is only one tap option which I would consider a true “craft” beer (Odell’s IPA), they have a lot of work to do. However, they are asking for suggestions on their Facebook page for what to rotate in so perhaps this will change in short order. While the beers are not your usual domestics, they are certainly not to the level I think they have hyped them to be.
Food: We tasted nearly every one of the samples provided on Friday and found them disappointing to say the least. The chicken and waffles, filled with dry chicken and a only a hint of maple syrup, were a huge miss for us but servers noted on Saturday that they were quite popular. Their crab cake was loose, heavily breaded, and dominated by a spicy “roasted tomato coulis” topping which left a spicy aftertaste for quite sometime but hid any and all flavor of the crab below. The rest of the options, especially the crab stuffed mac and cheese balls were boring, tasteless, and most importantly outside what I think needs to exist to compete in the local marketplace at this price level. We also were able to check out their their spinach salad which was provided with a syrupy bacon vinaigrette, a very meaty but overdone baked ziti, tender but tasteless and very saucy smoked blackberry BBQ riblets, and some corned beef hash which was more hash than corned beef. As we left on Friday night we were not looking forward to any future visits but with an invite to Saturday night’s “Family and Friend’s night” in hand we decided to head back again and see if Morgan’s could redeem themselves.
Our reservations were for 8:30PM on Saturday night. The restaurant was far less crowded than Friday night and there were several open tables when we arrived to find a 15 to 20 minute wait. We were eventually seated at a roomy booth and met our very friendly and fairly knowledgeable server who allowed us time to look over Morgan on Nicollet’s menu and then took our orders and went on her way.
We picked the steamed mussels appetizer which comes in a bleu cheese and bacon sauce with grilled french bread for $12. The Wife ordered the Smoked Gouda Meatloaf which comes with a red wine demi-glace, mashed potatoes and green beans for $15 (free on F&F night) and it came with choice of soup/salad and she chose their beer cheese soup. I ordered the 12oz NY Strip which comes with choice of vegetable and potato as well as soup/salad for $30 ($10 on F&F night). I chose the edamame succotash for the vegetable, after later learning they were out of grilled Brussels sprouts, a baked potato, and their French onion soup.
The soups came out first and were quite good. The Wife’s beer cheese was a small cup but full of both beer and cheese flavor and was a nice starter to her meal. The French onion was cheesy and full of onion but was a little too sweet and the cheese didn’t carry enough flavor for me.
After a little wait we asked our server about our steamed mussels and she realized she had forgotten all about them. She arrived soon after with our dish and placed it before us. All but one of the mussels were opened nicely and we dug in. While the bacon and bleu cheese sauce was interesting, the aggressive bleu cheese totally overpowered the flavor of the mussels. The Wife noted that in Minnesota this was probably seen more as a positive than a negative. Overall the dish was good and we would both order it again in the future.
The Wife’s Smoked Gouda Meatloaf was portioned well for the price but she was disappointed there weren’t more mashed potatoes. The green beans were crispy, bright green and large but she did not seem terribly interested in them. The meatloaf itself was quite tasty and while the smoked gouda wasn’t terribly noticeable itself, the red wine demi-glace was the perfect compliment to the meaty treat on the table. Very similar to Rudy’s own excellent meatloaf creations, I thought this meatloaf wasn’t quite as good as those but we both thoroughly enjoyed her dish and I ended up eating the last little bit even though I was afraid it may have “put me over the edge” for the evening.
My NY Strip steak was ordered rare and arrived mostly medium due to the thickness of the majority of the steak with some parts medium rare to rare. The baked potato was not cooked enough and I didn’t eat much of it due to this fact. The edamame succotash was little more than a vegetable medley with edamame instead of lima beans. While the edamame over lima beans were a welcome change, it did little to make the dish any more attractive than the original. The Wife noted that two-thirds of my dish were not cooked properly and that if I hadn’t been paying $10 on a preview night I probably would not have been pleased with the $30 price tag. She was right as usual.
The Wife, always interested in after dinner treats, suggested we inquire about dessert. They were not planning on serving desserts that evening but they brought out a complimentary piece of carrot cake for us to enjoy. A delicate cream cheese frosting which did not overpower the rest of the cake, I enjoyed the little bits I tried which are usually way too sweet for me.
The service was very good for day -1. The server was bubbly, friendly, fairly knowledgeable and was willing to please. Aside from some very minor mistakes (forgetting about the mussels due to her concern over their lack of Brussels sprouts) there was absolutely nothing that could have been done differently here.
A much improved experience from Friday’s VIP night. The food, service, and ambiance was pleasant enough to make us want to come back to enjoy a special occasion dinner. While the prices are a bit out of our range for regular repeat dining, we saw no reason why they would not be able to compete with both Chianti Grill and Porter Creek. While the location is tucked off The Burnsville Strip, if marketed properly they do have a shot of making it in this very difficult market.
Have you eaten at Morgan’s on Nicollet? If so what did you think? Based on the menu what would you order if you went? What do you think about the appetizers and entrees? Would those meet your definition of a “gastropub”? What beers would you like to see them have on rotation? Whatever you have to say about Morgan’s on Nicollet: A New World Tavern, go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Morgan’s on Nicollet – A New World Tavern
14201 Nicollet Ave
Burnsville, MN 55337
See all the pictures from Morgan’s on Nicollet on Flickr here.