Dave and Jeanne Mooty never planned on opening up their own restaurant, but they’ve been at it now for more than a decade. As avid golfers, the husband and wife team was initially more excited about the 18-hole course when they bought the Prestwick Golf Club in 1996 and figured a small snack bar was simply a good idea. Serving snacks alongside beer and wine worked for a while, but the need for a bigger eatery quickly grew with the success of the golf course, so the Mootys built and opened the club’s restaurant in 2005. Although it’s been known by a few different names of the years, the newest—T. Morris Pub & Grill—is here to stay.
Last winter, the restaurant underwent a renovation and came out not only with an updated look but also a brand-new name and concept. Briefly closed in February for the transition, it reopened its doors in mid-March, going from Osteria to T. Morris Pub & Grill. Gone are the Italian-inspired dishes (although they saved a few special customer favorites), and in their place is a range of traditional bar fare, complete with fun Scottish and Irish twists. But while the look and feel might be new, the high-quality food, beverages and service that Woodbury residents know and love haven’t gone anywhere.
The new name and pub vibe are more in sync with the restaurant’s location on a golf course, especially given Prestwick Golf Club’s own name. T. Morris Pub & Grill is a nod to the famous Scottish golfer Tom Morris, known as Old Tom Morris. Widely recognized as one of the founders of modern golf, Morris designed Scotland’s Prestwick Golf Club where he also worked as a groundskeeper and went on to win the British Open there four times. It’s Morris’ stomping grounds from which the Woodbury course lovingly takes its name. “Prestwick is a name I stole from the old Scottish course,” Dave says. “But, I’m not planning on giving it back to them!”
After five years as Osteria, Dave and Jeanne decided it was simply time for a change at the restaurant, and they had been considering moving to a more laid-back ambiance for a while.” We had to be more casual and quicker,” Jeanne says. “A lot of golfers, after 18 holes, don’t want to have a big meal.” Osteria’s upscale feel, she and Dave realized, made some golfers feel uncomfortable, and the pub makes for a much more welcoming environment.
The renovation was relatively simple but has had a big impact. The wall separating the bar and dining room was moved back to create an open floor plan and additional bar seating. Televisions were added behind the bar, making it possible to catch the big game while grabbing a bite to eat. “We wanted to make it the kind of place where everybody could feel comfortable,” Dave says, and the comfy leather booths, high top tables and open, airy feel certainly make that possible. The Mootys couldn’t be more thrilled with the final results. “We’re really excited,” Jeanne says. “I think it just looks like a really comfy, fun place.”
The new menu goes hand-in-hand with the makeover. Chef Dominic McMahon joined the T. Morris team during the transition and has helped create lunch, dinner and late-night bar menus that complement the restaurant’s new casual vibe. “When you go to a pub and have a pint, or you go to the golf course and have a pint, you don’t want to sit down with a knife and fork at the bar,” McMahon says. “So, we designed this so that you can pick [the food] up and eat it with your fingers and still have a drink and a chit-chat. Instead of the formality, this is more pub friendly.”
From bar standards such as burgers, soft pretzels and nachos to classics like steak and pork chops, the menu options at T. Morris certainly run the gamut. A few Osteria favorites were preserved, so if you loved the chicken wings or fish tacos, fear not: they’re still available. Otherwise, it’s an entirely new menu, and the Mootys are proud to call it original and unique to their restaurant.
“There are a lot more creative options for the guests,” McMahon says, describing the changes. “Before, it was ‘This is what you get, like it or leave it,’ whereas with the menus now, we’ve got a colorful basis for as many different tastes as possible.” The menus are recognizable to an American audience but feature several across-the-pond favorites as well, like Scotch eggs and pub pies. “But, it’s not way too American or way too Irish,” he says. “It’s a nice, subtle balance between everything.”
When it comes to can’t-miss dishes, McMahon recommends the shepherd’s pie. He follows an old recipe, passed down generation to generation within his family; he learned it from his mother, who learned it from her own. McMahon says that he can’t make it quite as well as his mother can—“Moms always have a secret to making things, maybe magic mom dust or something”—but he can come pretty darn close. The fish and chips are another specialty, and McMahon swears that they’re the best in all of Minnesota. “I’m not saying it to brag,” he says. “It’s just a fact. Mostly Irish restaurants have been trying to copy the recipe over the years, but they can’t quite get it.”
He’s not spilling when it comes to what, exactly, the recipe calls for, but he will say that the number one secret to all of T. Morris’ delicious food is fresh ingredients. “We keep things as fresh as humanly possible,” he says. Produce, fish and meats are all delivered three to four times a week, which allows McMahon and his team in the kitchen to hand-cut, season and prepare everything in-house. And, the prices all remain true to those of a pub as well. “There’s not going to be any sort of sticker shock when the check arrives,” he says. “It’s very wallet friendly.”
Between the great food, extensive beer and wine list, and array of fun cocktails, T. Morris Pub & Grill makes for a perfect neighborhood joint, and Dave and Jeanne say that’s exactly what they want it to be. They emphasize that anyone and everyone is welcome, even if you don’t know anything about golf. “Even though it’s on a golf course, even though it’s called T. Morris, it’s for families and everybody. We have a great ambiance, sort of like a neighborhood Cheers,” Jeanne says. And, it’s ultimately the people, they say, who have made their golf course and restaurant venture worthwhile. “There are a lot of people who have been with us for a long time and are really committed to making this place great,” Jeanne says. “That’s really rewarding to me.”
The Patio at T. Morris Pub & Grill
Summer is here, at long last. Although the warm weather and long days can’t stick around forever, they’re definitely ours to enjoy for the next couple of months. Patio season is in full swing, and what better way to soak up the best of summer than with a cocktail (or two) outdoors with friends? If dining and drinking al fresco are what you’re looking for, T. Morris Pub & Grill has you covered.
When you go to check out the new T. Morris digs this summer, be sure to ask to sit outside. “We have a really great patio,” owner Dave Mooty says. Although the restaurant underwent several changes earlier this year, its popular patio hasn’t gone anywhere, and neither has its beautiful view of the Prestwick Golf Club’s greenery.
The T. Morris patio overlooks Prestwick’s 18th hole, and it boasts a sweeping view of the greens. Tall trees frame both sides of the fairway, potted flowers and plants adorn the stone patio, and a small stream runs and babbles nearby. Jeanne Mooty says there’s no time like the present to enjoy the picturesque patio. “The view is just gorgeous in the summer,” she says. “It is absolutely stunning.” When night falls, the string lights sparkle and shine, and when the weather calls for it, the heaters kick on as well.
Why not see it for yourself? Between the resurrected two-for-one golfer specials, daily happy hours and brand new loyalty program (you’ll get a $10 credit for every $100 spent in the restaurant when Prestwick is open, and $15 on every $100 when it’s closed), there are plenty of deals to make it worth your while. Whether it’s a beer with friends after work or a romantic date-night dinner, there’s no better place in Woodbury to enjoy the best that patio season has to offer.
DID YOU KNOW?
Known as the Grand Old Man of Golf, Tom Morris played in the first 36 British Opens; the last was in 1896, at age 75.
Morris was inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame in 1976 and holds the record as the oldest winner of the British Open at age 46.
At Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland, located 30 miles south of Glasgow, Morris designed and maintained the course, taught lessons and ran events. —Debbie Musser