Motel Morris is not a motel or hotel, it’s a restaurant in Chelsea at 132 7th Avenue and 18th Street, with an ode to the 1960’s motel culture.

Executive Chef Bill McDaniel of the Red Cat, a restaurant I frequent when visiting my family in Chelsea. It has a retro feel to it, with good old fashion rock ‘n roll and an American-focused menu with classic things like deviled eggs, burgers, steaks, pork chops and roast chicken. It’s been getting some pretty favourable reviews too.

It is a 60 seat space, with blue banquets, warm wood, potted palms, marble and brass details and warm lighting. It opened in a former Spa Belles space.

But sorry folks, I did not have a good experience here.

The air conditioning was blowing on us, and they did nothing after we complained about it. The bacon, lettuce and tomato salad was blah. The daily special of fish and chips, ditto. A young family member was not impressed with her skate wing and proceeded to eat everything off everyone else’s plate. The grilled brook trout with lemon roasted fingerling potatoes, broccoli rabe, pine nuts, olives and pecorino was okay. I had trouble with the mixture of fish and cheese together. It must be from all of my years in Italy, where that is a faux pas. The grilled marinated skirt steak with bitter greens, bacon and shiitakes fared better. We ordered two plates of simple roasted sweet potatoes that they forgot to bring to the table. They redeemed themselves a little at dessert. There are only two simple choices, and a daily special. The butterscotch, banana pudding pie with amaretti crumble, on a graham cracker crust, tasted better than it looked. The chocolate peanut butter sundae with fudge, fluff, and honey roasted peanuts was very satisfying. There are beers on tap and 8 craft cocktails. I don’t mind an ode to American culture when the food is delicious and comforting. But here it was mediocre. Not worth a special trip to Chelsea.

Happy dining,

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