A Well-Kept Secret: Morris’ Cafe Serves Something for Everyone
This week Profiled Luncher John shares one of his lunch secrets. And if you want to stalk him, chances are, he will be here…
There’s no sign on the outside of the building. Inside, the name is only listed on a small sign on a glass door and on a portable display. There’s no website, and you’ll only ever find out about the place from word of mouth or if you wandered in after noticing its courtyard with outdoor tables during the summertime. But once you discover Morris’, a cafeteria on 17th Street between Market and Chestnut, you and your officemates will keep coming again and again.
Morris’ is about as unassuming as a Stephen Starr place can be. Starr Restaurants Catering Group operates Morris’ and brings along the standard Starr-quality food and professional service. The name refers to law firm Duane Morris LLP, one of the building’s largest tenants. While Morris’ may primarily intend to serve Duane Morris and other building tenants, it is open to the general public (or at least those who know about it). Personally, I heard about it from co-workers and have subsequently spread the news as well. Now, I don’t think it’s possible for me to go to Morris’ without seeing someone from work there.
Inside the cafeteria, there are several food stations for whatever food you’re in the mood. The grill serves up burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, fries and chicken fingers in addition to a daily “global dish.” Right next to the grill is the pizza station, offering pizzas, handheld dishes and weight watcher items (along with points listings). There’s a sandwich station featuring prepared choices in addition to the option to make your own sandwich combination. Finally, the salad area draws the longest lines every day.
One of the great features of Morris’ is the rotating daily, weekly and monthly specials. This week, my choice was the buffalo chicken ($6.50), which happened to be the sandwich of the month. It’s a chicken sandwich served with buffalo sauce and bleu cheese on Ciabatta bread. The bleu cheese flavor really stood out, though it wasn’t overpowering. The bread was good, and my only issue was that I wished there was more chicken.
When I can’t make up mind of what I want to eat, I invariably order from the pizza station. Two slices of Margherita ($2.25 each) are more than enough to fill you up. If you ask nicely, the pizza server will even let you pick your slices from the pie. If I’m feeling particularly adventurous, I go for the daily “handheld,” which is similar to a calzone with the sauce on the side. This handheld was a chicken broccoli and cheese whiz combination ($4.95). The somewhat unusual vegetarian mash up works pretty well. In fact, the cheese whiz blends in so you don’t taste it too much.
The salad station offers a base of field greens, romaine or baby spinach, and you personalize the rest. Small ($4.50) and large ($6.00) portions are available, and you can also add in protein or seafood for an additional surcharge. Given the size of the large salad (enough for two meals), if you order salads to cut down on your eating and calories, I suggest you stick to the smaller size.
You should also save room for some of the desserts, such as the cookies ($1.00), which are baked on the premises. The chocolate chip cookies are soft and full of chips. They’re well worth the value.
I’ve hardly touched on the other sandwich possibilities (building your sandwich with wraps, paninis or hoagie rolls) or the grill’s “global dish” (the recent selection was teriyaki salmon, bok choi and jasmine rice). There are just so many different quality options, so it’s no wonder why my officemates go there on a regular basis. It’s a great alternative to standard food courts.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Varied choices for every palate
- More reasonably priced than any Stephen Starr establishment in the city
- $2.25 for big slices of pizza
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- The buffalo chicken sandwich could have been more filling
- You’ll look out of place if you’re not dressed in professional clothing
- I really wish they’d have some of the special items available every day
Morris’ Cafe, 30 South 17th Street (@ Chestnut) 215 979 1000