Morton's Bistro Northwest

It's a different kind of entrance, for sure. Mrs. VN and I stepped into the short hallway just off of Edgewater Street in West Salem -- to the right, an office space, and to the left, the restrooms. A small but bright white sign at the end of the short hallway points toward the "Restaurant Entrance" out the door and down the stairs of the backside of the building, where a brick-accented doorway greets patrons like Grandma's daylight basement. It's somewhat odd for a restaurant, but warm and friendly. After being greeted and seated, we were surprised to find that they don't provide you a paper wine list. I then discovered that the "wine list" is just inside the front door to the left, with prices on the backs of the bottles. Don't overlook the local microbrews in the upper right-hand corner -- after reviewing the wines, I switched gears and chose the Pale Horse Hopyard Dog IPA that I decided to plan my meal around. We started our meal with the crab cake appetizer. It was served with a pepper relish, a small bowl of cocktail sauce, and a dollop of what I think was mayonnaise-based dip. The cakes were light, delicious, and had meaningful chunks of crab. Shortly after that came a bowl of clam chowder which was excellent, though I normally think of chowder as something much creamier than this. This clam chowder was more of a stock-based soup with cream in it rather than vice versa, but it had lots of fresh clams and that's what sways my vote every time. I flip-flopped between the Penne Diablo and the Cattail Creek Lamb Shank before finally selecting the Penne Diablo -- hot.
The waitress warned me twice that 'hot' was "definitely hot," which was just what I was in the mood for. And she was right. There were spicy chunks of sausage, HUGE pieces of crab and peppers, resting happily in a fired-up tomato sauce. Along the rim of the bowl was a zig-zag of red, which disappointingly turned out to be nothing more than Sriracha hot sauce. Good, but I was kind of expecting something more original. Mrs. VN ordered the Angus New York steak, served with potatoes, and a mix of mushrooms, onions, and carrots. The steak was tender, and more importantly, cooked just the way she ordered it. As she describes her meal, "If you just want a big, juicy, delicious slab of meat, the New York is what to order." You see why I love her? Overall, our meal was quite satisfying and filling. The price tag was reasonable at $76 (drinks, appetizer, 2 entrees, soup). The service was friendly, courteous and attentive, and not overbearing. I think we'll be back.

More pictures: http://vegansnightmare.posterous.com/dinner-at-mortons-nw-bistro-west-salem

Vicarious Diner: http://eatsalem.com/2009/03/vicarious-diner-at-mortons-bistro.html

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

$76 for a meal for two people might be reasonable for you, but that's about half my budget for food for a month. Reasonable for two people and decent food, in Salem, is more like $30-$40.

Vegan's Nightmare said...

True, "reasonable" is relative. I should have qualified the word in that it was a fair value for a fine-dining experience in Salem -- not more and not less than what you would expect to pay at La Capitale, Old Europe Inn, or Davinci's for the same dinner.

Anonymous said...

I think $76 for a fine dining experience is quite reasonable. Of course, not everyone can afford to do that and most can't do that on a regular basis. Good job on the review VN. I'd like to see more of these kinds of reviews. One request: Change your handle...it's crass.

I think the majority of people who live in Salem have a food budget that is higher than what Anonymous claims. Consider the suburbs in South and West Salem or neighborhoods like Candalaria, Fairmount, and the Bush Park area. How about Mcnary? I can go and on. We have many working class neighborhoods too, but we still have a large middle-class in Salem.

Vegan's Nightmare said...

Anonymous #2, thanks for the kind words.

However, I refuse to be pigeon-holed by a term like "crass" -- I'm also tactless and unrefined.

In Bacon's Name,
Vegan's Nightmare

me said...

This man loves his meat. Hence, the name is very appropriate. Nothing crass about it.

Great review. I've so wanted to try that place out but never have.

Dinner for two for $30-40 is called Applebees. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with Applebees, but it's not fine dining. $76 for drinks, appetizer and two entrees as described sounds pretty darn good to me.

Salem Man said...

Here's the Thesaurus.com list of synonyms for "crass"
Synonyms:
Philistine, asinine, blundering, boorish, bovine, churlish, dense, doltish, gross, indelicate, inelegant, loutish, lowbrow, lumpish, oafish, obtuse, raw, rough, rude, stupid, uncouth, unrefined, vulgar, witless

The persona of Vegan's Nightmare might accurately be described that way. That's why he's so much fun.

The actual person behind the moniker, great guy and in no way "crass." I don't think Mrs. VN would put up with him otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I went to Morton's the other night, based on your review and we also spent about $75. Although the service was good (which was improved from the last time I ate there a year or so ago), I have to say it was the worst meal I've eaten in a long time. I didn't even eat the bread adn I can usually put away a bread basket. The meat was tough and the rice had a weird taste. I won't be going back, epecially at those prices.

Vegan's Nightmare said...

Anon #3, I've very sorry to hear you had such a bad experience. I have heard conflicting reports of quality at Morton's over the years, but because I didn't experience it myself on my visit, I didn't think it was fair to mention that in my review.

Thanks for posting the results of your visit -- Eat Salem readers always appreciate hearing multiple perspectives.

Anonymous said...

What dish did Anonymous #3 order?

Anonymous said...

The last time we ate there (about a month ago) we both thought it was one of the best restaurant experiences we'd had in a long long time. The food was great and the service was prompt and efficient. The atomosphere is comfortable. The perfect date spot.

They have a world class wine list - but that always gets me in trouble (my wife drinks Black Box at home but has expensive restaurant wine tastes).

In my opinion, this is the best restaurant in Salem.

Mike

Anonymous said...

Anon # 3 here. We ordered a steak and the duck (not a lot of vegetarian entrees). Sadly neither meal was worth eating. I took home some leftovers but never ate them.

Anonymous said...

HANDS DOWN-BEST PLACE IN SALEM TO HAVE A NICE DINNER AND THE WINE Mmmmm...! rate 1-5 I GIVE IT 6 ****** ABOVE THE NORM! :)

Anonymous said...

HUMMM-GUESS YOU COULD GET PIZZA/SALAD AND SODA/BEER FOR TWO AT ABOUT $30 BUT IM NOT SURE ABOUT LAMB-VEG.-POTATO-SALAD AND VINO- I ONLY DO FAST FOOD ONCE A MONTH OR LESS-SOMETIMES IT'S ABOUT GOING SOME PLACE THAT MAKES YOU FEEL SPECIAL- MORTON'S IS THAT PLACE IN MY BOOK :)