MorganStTheater.com • 503.536.5713
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If you are like me and love reading about the Portland restaurant scene, you’ll know the story of how Naomi Pomeroy of Beast and Courtney Sproule of din din Supper Club got their start. Both of them had underground supper clubs where you could get an incredible meal in a very unique setting, like their living room. (If you don’t know this story and want to know more, go out and buy Karen Brooks’ The Mighty Gastropolis. It is a fabulous book and really fun read about Portland chefs.)
I fully admit I love the idea of a secret society-type event where it is invite-only and the foundation of an impressive culinary career. So that made me even more when I learned about Morgan St Theater, a mix of an underground dessert supper club and a popup shop specializing in ice cream sundaes. Currently in order to attend an event, you have to be personally invited by Chef/Owner Jared Goodman. It makes it even more fun to be part of the exclusive “in crowd,” I think.
I got the opportunity to check it out last week with some fellow bloggers: Jane of In The Pink and Green, Michelle of Hummingbird High, Pechluck of Pechluck’s Food Adventures and Rachel of Love, Rachel. (Check out their blogs for what they thought of the evening too!)
Morgan St Theater’s events offer a tasting menu of three mini seasonally and thematically inspired ice cream desserts, with optional pairings of either wine or cocktails. The night we attended the theme was the Second Coming of Sundaes – “Imagine the classic brownie sundae, banana split and root beer float have died and this dessert flight is the messianic rebirth of these once classic ice cream sundaes.” As evidenced by his former career as a high school teacher, Jared loves to tell stories and does more than just offer food on a plate. There is a fun theme binding the courses together.
Course #1 was “Sundae Bloody Sundae” – tarragon olive oil ice cream on top of a chocolate-orange wafer crumble and blood orange gastrique.
I loved the creaminess of the ice cream and the aromatic flavors from the tarragon. While not entirely similar to a brownie like the pitch made it sound, I really enjoyed the crispy cookie crumble. It was a little hard to eat off a plate rather than in a bowl and while Jared said that licking the dishes was totally acceptable, I decided to restrain myself even though I did kind of want to…
Our first drink for the evening was “The Pool of Bethesda,” made by Marc from the Tannery Bar who made specialty cocktail pairings for our evening. It was Cognac, Aquavit, Combier (an orange liqueur), lemon, bay leaf syrup, and bitters.
Course #2 was Kah-Pow! which was a take on the root beer float. Jared makes nearly everything from scratch including the fizzy, lightly sweet plum soda used in this dessert. It was topped with a scoop of black pepper ice cream, which might sound weird but I really liked it. Its spiciness somehow mellowed out the tartness of the plum soda. To complete the course, the dish was lined with a salted honey rim.
This course was paired with “Tiberius Quelled,” a combination of Hendrick’s Gin, cucumber and lemon. I truly used to despise gin under any circumstance, but cocktails like this are starting to change my mind. Perhaps it is because Hendrick’s is made with infused rose and cucumbers rather than exclusively using juniper berries. But whatever the reason, I really loved how clean and refreshing it tasted, which also worked really well against the intense flavors of the float.
Course #3 was Planet of the Apes, a new interpretation on the banana split. So first off, I love banana and peanut butter. Pretty much every morning I eat toast with peanut butter and sliced bananas, so I knew I was going to like this from the get-go. A rich chocolate mole sauce was topped with creamy peanut butter ice cream and shaved lime, and served with a crispy plantain. I loved it. At first the mole was a little surprising as it is more savory but by bite number two, all I wanted was more.
The last cocktail was “Powders of the Merchant.” This drink definitely is something that was deserving of a warm beach and ocean breeze. Foreign and domestic rums mixed with sherry, Becherovka (an herbal liqueur), Combier , Oregeat (an almond syrup), citrus and bitters. It was a little strong for my taste (or maybe that was because it was cocktail #3 in about an hour and I rarely drink hard alcohol…), but I know plenty of the other guests loved it.
One of the things I thought Morgan St Theater did really well at was portion sizes. While I don’t totally understand how it’s possible, I do know that not everyone is as much of a dessert lover as me. Meaning that they might not necessarily want course after course of giant desserts. Jared has built his menu around small, tasting plates, so they aren’t ginormous, overwhelming sundaes where you are full before you even move on to Course #2. But they are certainly filling enough that you’ll feel like you’ve gotten your money’s worth.
Overall it was a really fun evening with really delicious desserts. I can’t wait to see what else Chef Jared will create. With his unique and creative storytelling and his culinary imagination, I have no doubt there will be a lot of great dishes. Plus it is exciting to get in on the “ground floor” and see where Morgan St Theater will go from here.
If you want to try out this month’s menu for yourself, there are still seats available for the March 20th event at Pairings Portland Wine Shop. The three courses will be served from 7-9pm with a price of $30-40 (ticket prices are based on a sliding scale). For questions or to RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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