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June 29, 2014

Food critic Morgan Murphy visits Norman restaurants for series

NORMAN — When Morgan Murphy heard about Scratch and Syrup, he knew he had to visit.

“I am constantly searching the South for the most inventive and creative fare—and hot damn, do these restaurants have it,” Murphy said. The Southern Living food critic and TV personality was in town recently to visit Scratch and Syrup for his series. Murphy visited Scratch and Syrup to try their famous double-bone pork chop and Morning Glory, respectively.

Murphy is known for humorous stories and the recipes he pries out of mom-and-pop restaurants. His books include the best-selling “Off the Eaten Path” series — and coming this fall, “Bourbon & Bacon.”

“When you cook as badly as I do, you’ve got to have a sense of humor,” said Murphy, who describes his four Southern food groups as, “bourbon, salt, bacon and pie.

Norman has a rich culinary tradition that shows with the two restaurants selected by Murphy. You can hog out at Syrup for breakfast and then walk to Scratch for lunch.

How did he choose Scratch and Syrup? Murphy says he picks all his restaurants based on three criteria: the food, the service and the ambiance.

“But shoot, the ambiance and the service can be broken if the food is good enough,” he said. “Who doesn’t love a great barbecue shack that looks like it might fall in on you?”

The Southern food writer says he gets his restaurant tips mainly through fans to his website, morganmurphy.co or directly on Twitter @_morganmurphy. “I love to get tips from readers. They’re the ones who know the best spots,” Murphy said. And he always follows up in person, often driving his huge 1956 Cadillac.

“I research restaurants the old-fashioned way — I go there,” he said. “Google just can’t take the place of actually being there.”

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