On a rainy Wednesday night in downtown Glens Falls, the fireplaces were glowing at Morgan & Co., and a young woman in white chef’s coat buzzed from table to table, warming the room with boisterous greetings and a non-stop smile.
“That’s one of the owners,” I told Hubby. “She was a champion on ‘Chopped.’ ”
“I thought she looked familiar,” he said.
In 2009, Rebecca Newell-Butters was executive chef at The Beehive in Boston when she took the $10,000 prize on the Food Network, but Glens Falls, where she was born and raised, has always been her home.
Morgan & Co.
WHERE: 65 Ridge Road, Glens Falls. 409-8060, www.morganrestaurant.com, Facebook
WHEN: 4-10 p.m. Tue.-Wed.; 4-11 p.m. Thur.-Sat.; brunch 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat. and Sun.; 3-8 p.m. dinner on Sun.
HOW MUCH: $77, not including tip and drinks
MORE INFO: Major credit cards accepted, parking lot and street parking, handicapped accessible, kid’s menu
In 2010, when she married Boston chef and Massachusetts native Steve Butters, the wedding was held at The Sagamore on Lake George. Butters, former operator of a Boston-area bakery, has appeared on “Sweet Genius,” another Food Network show.
From the outside, Morgan & Co. is impressive. Stepping onto the wraparound porch of the 1891 William McEchron House, a stately Queen Anne-Romanesque structure, we were expecting white tablecloths and a formal waitstaff.
McEchron, a lumber baron who made his fortune at the old Morgan & Co., lived here until his death in 1906, and in 1921, his daughters gave the house to the city for use as office space.
In recent years, the building, on the National Register of Historic Places, deteriorated and was vacant. Last year it was purchased by Rebecca’s dad, Ronald Newell, a lawyer in Glens Falls, along with John Carr, owner of Adirondack Brewery, and Michael Laney, a Hudson Falls accountant.
After we passed through the carved sandstone portico and massive wooden door, we immediately relaxed.
Morgan & Co. feels more like a rollicking English pub than a stuffy, high-end restaurant.
Servers wear black T-shirts and customers are dressed in jeans.
Billed as “an American restaurant,” it has a menu as fun and eclectic as a “Chopped” challenge. Poutine, brisket lasagna, truffled deviled eggs, to name a few.
My first course was Moroccan Cigars, $10, two logs of warm phyllo stuffed with ground lamb and presented on a wooden board with house-made harissa, a Tunisian chili paste.
My main course was the weird and wonderful Inca Bowl. I went for the vegan version, $18, but there’s also chicken kabob, steak, shrimp, salmon and swordfish.
Dipping into the big metal bowl required some courage. There were so many ingredients and they were difficult to identify just by sight.
The first forkful uncovered shreds of fried sweet potato. Then I stabbed a wedge of adobo-spiced tofu, perfectly crisped on the outside, soft on the inside.
Other treasures: triangles of seitan, roasted cauliflower and parsnip, corn, radish and mushrooms, all strewn with lots of fresh cilantro. Just when I thought I had this mystery bowl figured out, I discovered a saucy quinoa porridge deep inside the bowl.
“People like the depth of flavors,” said a server who noticed the lip smacking at our table.
Warm and satisfying, Inca Bowl is some of the best vegan around. It was so filling, I didn’t touch my mushroom side dish, $6, and had to take it home.
Even Hubby’s tame order — soup and steak — had a surprise: His lobster bisque, $9, arrived with a golden dome of pastry that completely capped the buttery, tomato-y soup.
He loved the filet mignon, $34, which rested in a creamy puree of green peas and goat cheese.
As the servings are good-sized, we had to pass on the desserts, which are all made in-house.
With the summer arts season just ahead, Morgan & Co. has all the ingredients for success.
The grand house is across the street from the Lower Adirondack Region Arts Council, close to the Charles R. Wood Theater and its Adirondack Theatre Festival, which kicks off on June 23 with the comedy “Kalamazoo,” and less than a mile from The Hyde Collection, which opens an Andy Warhol exhibit on June 21.
And with spring finally in the air, the wrap-around porch is now open for outdoor dining and cocktails.