It was suggested I review Morgal. I actually wanted to review Bistro Franz which shares the same owner, but as it’s already a well known destination I decided I’d give Morgal a try.
And I practically pre-wrote the review in my head. It was filled with phrases like “menu built around fresh local ingredients”, and “vegetarian dishes fit to seduce bi-curious carnivores”. Let’s see how that worked out.
Morgal has a notable location, nestled within the Moravian Gallery. The signage outside is easy to miss, but it’s simple enough to describe how you find it – you know the new “Jošt on a horse” statue? Imagine yourself walking out of it’s butt – you can’t miss it.
The restaurant is broken into parts: an outdoor courtyard for the warmer weather and a womb-like inner chamber. There’s a beautiful frayed fresco across the vaulted ceiling.
The rest of the decor is so overwhelmingly pale as to blend out distinguishing features, making feel quite generic, like someone who’s had a bit too much plastic surgery. Despite this it’s got cosy rosy lighting which lends a pleasant blush to the aura.
Morgal has an compact open kitchen at its heart. I really like this kind of feature – open kitchens are still something of a novelty in Brno. As an enthusiastic home cook, being able to get an idea for how the professionals prepare your favourite dishes can really build your appreciation and appetite. Unfortunately it’s currently a wasted opportunity.
Fresh ingredients are king. It’s the prevailing philosophy amongst chefs nowadays. Any decent cook can make a fancy meal given the finest ingredients, imported from exotic locations, and weeks of planning and preperation.
But it takes a great chef to source seasonal local ingredients in the morning, and by lunchtime devise a menu within those limitations. That’s the theory anyway.
The compromise is that while selection on the menu changes daily it’s always fairly limited (around 15 dishes total). It’s also common for things to be crossed off the menu as the ingredients sell out. That’s fine – as long as the alternatives are good.
I began with a bowl of beetroot soup – it was a little odd in two respects. Firstly, despite it’s vivid purple colour it didn’t taste that much of beetroot. And secondly rather than being puréed the beetroot was shredded leaving an unpleasant bitty mouth feel. Imagine pulpy orange juice if the pulp had the granular consistency of mashed chick peas.
Then I tried the Beef Tartare in truffle oil. It arrived loaded – the coarsely chopped beef perched on thin crostini. The meat was fresh and pleasant enough to taste, with purple sprouts artfully scattered across the plate that lent a metallic zing.
But after that initial hit of flavour… nothing. I couldn’t even taste the truffle oil. It was basically toast, topped with chopped steak, which does not a Tartare make. There was no depth, no roundness. I may be a commited meat eater, but I’d be a bloodthirsty b*stard if I expected cows to die for this.
Onward to the main course. Pork loin on onion chutney with mashed potato. Three very small medallions with a cake of coarsely mashed potato. The mashed potato was dry. The pork was overcooked and dry. The chutney was good – tangy and sweet – but one out of three isn’t much comfort for a dish that costs almost 200 CZK.
I’d like to hypothesize that this was an anomaly – that perhaps if I went back I might get different results. No – I actually visited three times.
I get a distinct sense that they’re not trying their food, because it’s so… one dimensional. Every dish I had there tasted like they forgot to add at least one essential ingredient; I mean apart from moisture or flavour.
And hey, isn’t it about time for a salt and pepper shaker moratorium in Brno? If you’re lucky, the pepper is dry and weak, which means dusting your food with “peppery matter”. If you’re unlucky it’s freshly refilled and so strong you end up choking on your now ruined meal. It’s a strange choice for a restaurant that supposedly prides itself on using fresh ingredients.
Morgal came with a pedigree – the Bistro Franz kitchen regularly offers the best value dining in Brno, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anybody.
The Morgal wait staff were very nice to me, they brew a super coffee, the ceiling frescoes, the location; they’re great. But the food is overpriced, bland, and not prepared to an acceptable level.