Last week, to the tables down at Mory’s I went.
As soon as I walked through the door, I was greeted with warm smiles and much shaking of hands and then led to a booth at the back of the otherwise empty dining room. It was past lunchtime, so this was no surprise. I slid in, the table before me covered in etchings of names and initials — some from decades in the past. I can only imagine the stories it could tell.
This being my first visit to Mory’s — shocking, I know — I had only two things to go off of: cups and a cappella. But the purpose of my visit was neither. Instead, I was here to review Mory’s new student menu.
I knew Mory’s served food, but it was something I had never thought twice about, much less considered visiting to sample. After all, when thinking on Mory’s menu, all I could imagine was bland, Waspy food.
I’m very pleased to announce my concerns were unfounded.
Created to appeal to the undergraduate population of Yale, the student menu is a success. It features a range of club fare with a dash of Italian influence — courtesy of executive chef and alumnus of Scoozzi Trattoria and Wine Bar Jeff Caputo — and all at good value.
I decided on the house salad and the vegan burger, and given a little encouragement from Caputo and Jackie Morr, Mory’s general manager, I agreed to try the fettuccini Bolognese, a house favorite, as well.
When I think of house salads, I usually assume some greenery with maybe a little something else thrown in, so was pleasantly surprised to receive this one, which had blue cheese, butternut squash, apple, and walnuts –– all the yums. The mix of flavors worked well together, and the freshness of the ingredients was clear in the crunch of the apples. Though not life-changing, the salad was certainly better than anything you could create in the dining hall, and the price tag, only $5, was good for a dish that could have served as my whole meal.
Next was the fettuccini. I’m not usually a fan of Bolognese, but this one, especially with the reasonable cost of $7, may have turned me. Of course, the low price means that the meat isn’t organic, but the sauce was still flavorful without being overwhelming and the pasta, cooked to perfection. The plate wasn’t too heavy and it sat well with me, an impressive feat given my slight gluten and dairy intolerances. It’s really no surprise that the dish, a nod to Caputo’s roots, has become a house favorite.
And last but certainly not least, the vegan burger.
I love burgers. Really love them. They are 95 percent of the reason I’m not a vegetarian. (That, and bacon.) Making a tasty beef burger is pretty easy; a vegetarian burger is more of a trial, but it’s a surmountable one. And a vegan burger? The idea that this could approach anything near deliciousness seemed unfathomable. Caputo, I am happy to report, rose to the challenge.
Made with black beans, sweet potatoes and brown rice, this is the kind of burger you can really take a bite out of. It’s not at all dry — a common problem for most vegetarian and vegan burgers; this patty was — please excuse my choice of word — wonderfully moist. It also just tasted really good — the combination of black beans and guacamole gave it a Southern, almost Tex-Mex, twist. Of all three dishes, this is the one that I would most likely have again. (Quick disclaimer: I cheated and got cheese on mine, but it would also have been great without.) My order came along with a side of fries, which could have gained from being a bit crunchier (I like my fries almost burnt, but that’s a matter of personal opinion). Still, the burger more than made up for any staleness.
As an extra, Caputo brought me a sample of the house-made bread. Once again, the Italian influence of the executive chef was palpable; the loaf’s exterior was deliciously crumbly and it perfectly set off a soft, savory inside.
All in all, I was very impressed with the Mory’s student menu. It’s obvious that under Caputo, Mory’s has made great strides towards changing its previously poor culinary image. Everything is priced cheaper than a Durfee’s lunch swipe, and each dish is certainly enough as a complete meal (which is more than I can say for $7.50 worth of Durfee’s fare). It’s a great alternative to the dining hall and an excellent off-campus lunch spot, if you have time to sit and chat with friends over a good, affordable meal. It’s also a good late dinner option, since the student menu is available daily until 9 p.m.
The student menu is available to all Mory’s student members. Applications come with a $15 fee (which, I’m told, you can even do there on the spot). Though not currently a member myself, I can say with confidence that I’ll be signing up and heading on back to those tables down at Mory’s soon.