It isn’t often that I write a review of a restaurant in Wyoming. This is for two reasons. Usually when I go back home to see the family, we cook. Very rarely do we go out to eat, instead preferring to use each other as our own personal guinea pigs which, if Christmas was any indication, has turned out to be a pretty good gig. The other reason is that there really hasn’t been a place worth writing about. Sure, I could go on about Applebee’s or the local Mexican place, but I feel that’s just a waste of my time. I never end up leaving those places that happy. So when my mom came to me and said that there is a place she wanted to take my dad and me (and she knows full well my level of FOODie), I was totally game. I had no idea what to expect, but knew at the very least it would be a night worth writing about.
Before we headed to the restaurant though, we decided to stop at a little martini bar down by the capitol. It was in one of the older buildings in downtown Cheyenne and in a way reminded me of a couple martini bars I had stopped by in bigger cities. It was dark with a bar to the front and some dining off to the left. There was a stage for live music as well. We took a seat in the dining room and ordered a variety of “tinis” though I’m pretty sure none of them would actually qualify as a martini if they weren’t served in the signature glass (heck mine had tequila in it!). My dad was enjoying his bloody mary inspired tini and wondering why there weren’t that many people…until he remembered it was 6 o’clock on a non-work day…most people hadn’t even started the night yet. Ahh…the joys of going out with old people
After finishing our round of drinks, we made our way the two blocks to the Morris House Bistro; a small house in the Avenues that has been converted to a restaurant. We walked up to the door and wedged our way into the “waiting area”; a space that could comfortably handle one of the 5 of us that were trying to stay warm and out of the way at the same time. We were a few minutes early for our reservation so had to do a couple little dances to allow people to leave.
The small dining room had maybe 10 tables and sat between 30 and 40 people. There is apparently an upstairs area as well with additional seating for private events. And it was full. No wonder we had to have a reservation…one that was made 3 weeks in advance. In all my years growing up in Cheyenne, I can’t ever think of a restaurant where this was the case. The closest thing was Poor Richard’s on prom night. And not only was the full room and long reservation list unique, the menu was unlike anything I had seen before. It was an homage to Southern cooking, focusing mostly in the area of South Carolina. Things like Fried Green Tomatoes, Shrimp and Grits and Gumbo dotted the menu.
We started off the meal with some Fried Green tomatoes, which were really good! Nice and crispy so each bite had a crunch. The batter was simple, lightly seasoned, and there was a sauce that added a little sweetness to balance out each bite. For the main course, we all decided to go a different way…mine the way of the pig. It was actually a tough debate that came down to the wire between the pork and the walleye, but when the moment came, pork chop jumped out of my mouth. And when it hit the table, along with the sauteed greens that I ordered, I wasn’t disappointed. A thick double cut pork chop sitting on top of orzo (yeah, orzo…screams low-country Southern, right?) and smothered in a sweet smelling sauce. After the first bite, though, I was thinking maybe I should have gone with the walleye. Don’t get me wrong, it was good…the sauce slightly sweet to balance out the pork nicely. But, the pork chop was just a bit overcooked to the point that it needed the sauce to keep it moist. And I missed a little of the smokiness that was promised. And the greens were just a tad more bitter than I tend to like. Of course, I still ate almost everything, so that should tell you something.
Normally, that’s where I like to conclude my meal. Maybe get a cup of decaf coffee and just relax. But tonight, I figured it was vacation, what the heck, let’s splurge on dessert. Interestingly there is no dessert menu as the philosophy is, whatever the pastry chef feels like whipping up is good for us. As luck would have it, the traditional Southern favorite pecan pie was on of her whims, and I jumped on it. This time, my choice was absolutely rewarded. The pie was excellent in it’s simplicity. There wasn’t too much caramel or too many pecans or too much crust. Everything was balanced nicely, was moist and was absolutely delicious. It was the prefect way to end the meal.
I definitely enjoyed my meal, the time out with my parents, and the unique new restaurant that has hit Cheyenne (well unique for Cheyenne). I would say my dad was probably the winner of the night; having an excellent vegetable polenta, wonderful fried okra, and a decadent bread pudding to round out his meal. Though, if my chop had been cooked somewhere in the medium rare to medium range rather than medium well with just a bit more smoke, I think it would have blown his polenta out of the water.