Although aware of the Morguen Toole Company, I had never been there before joining them for their Yuengs and Wings night this past Wednesday. I became aware of this wing night by stumbling upon their website, and although put off by the sloppy writing (there’s a difference between your and you’re) and punctuation, the photos intrigued me enough to check them out. Why would I, or you for that matter, care about grammar errors on a website? It’s relevant because when a restaurant sets a high bar of expectations, attention to detail becomes critical. In this case the website foreshadowed my entire experience.
Meyersdale, Pennsylvania is an old coal mining town best known today as the host of the Pennsylvania Maple Festival and for it’s location on the Great Allegheny Passage, a 135 mile hiking and biking trail. The downtown area is filled with late 19th century buildings, one of which houses the Morguen Toole Company at 130 Center Street. I approached the main door of the beautifully restored building and found it locked. After a bit of looking around, I found a sign directing me to the Alley Entrance, which is indeed back an alley. Unfortunately, once inside I wasn’t sure I was in the right place. It looked like a service entrance with no indication of where the bar was. I did hear some music, so I followed the sound to where I found what appeared to be a dining room with a sign instructing me to wait to be seated, so I waited, and waited, and after waiting some more, I wandered into the bar where I found the first indication of life, a bartender. Yuengling was advertised as the special so that’s what I ordered, and since I was the only patron in the bar, it naturally arrived fairly quickly. The beer was $3 and served in a pint canning jar, a hackneyed idea that makes no sense to me, especially in an operation that is attempting to be upscale. I guess the ceramic mugs below the bar were just for show.
The rooms are quite impressive, cavernous and loaded with original architectural details such as stamped tin ceilings, brick walls and wooden floors. Exposed utilities alludes to the industrial history of the building. The bartender informed me the pub side of the building had been a tool company and the dining room side a morgue, hence the name Morguen Toole Company. A menu was presented and I was informed that as they were conducting cooking classes that evening, the items listed would be all that would be available. I really didn’t have a problem with the limited menu as I was interested in the wings, but I was put off by the fact that the menu was a simple computer print out with no effort to present it as anything other than an after thought. Every bar I’ve visited has made the effort to at the very least add some graphics or color. Even laminating the menu would have been better than a plain sheet of copy paper. The menu listed 10 wing choices, with the “wet” and “dry” listed separately. The names “sounded” more interesting than many restaurants, but there were no descriptions and the prices were steep for an advertised “special”. The cut (1 section) wings were listed at $4.49 for 6 and $7.99 for 12, and that’s without celery or dressings. I ordered 6 of a dry rub listed as Mojo and 6 of a wet Chipotle-Sangria. The wings arrived quickly and I dug into a Mojo. Whoa! The wings were so salty I could barely eat them, and they exhibited none of the flavors I would associate with Mojo. Mojo is a Cuban marinade or sauce for grilling (primarily pork) where the predominate flavors in most versions are garlic (lots), cumin and citrus (usually orange). I picked up none of these flavors, though admittedly, it was hard to get past the salt to discern what flavors were there. If the chef was attempting to do something other than a Cuban Mojo, a description on the menu would have alerted the diner to that fact. The Chipotle-Sangria wings were better, though not what I had expected given the name. Chipotle peppers are smoked Jalapeños and although there were some smoky notes in the sauce, there was no heat at all. Also, Sangria is red wine with oranges and lemons, but the sauce offered no hint of citrus. The wings themselves were also a problem. Although not overcooked to the point of turning the meat into jerky, they were very dry. They had none of the juiciness of the better wingsin other restaurants, and I suspect this was due to using IQF wings opposed to fresh. Overall, this was a very disappointing experience. The owners have put a lot of money into this operation and they are trying to be upscale, but their lack of attention to detail will likely doom them to failure. I would like to think the Yuengs and Wings night was an anomaly since they were holding cooking classes, but I would have to think twice about making a trip to Meyersdale again based on this experience.
Cooking: The wings were edible but dry, likely frozen. 4
Varieties: The 10 varieties showed imagination but there were no descriptions. 5
Value: $7.99 a dozen with no celery and dressing for cut wings with $3 pints? 3