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Casa Mono

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This place is rarely dicussed here..I always wonder why. I liked the food a lot the one time I had dinner here (guinea hen, fried calamari, venison, crema catalana) We are planning to return this weekend and I would like some recommendations on other things to try. How are the lamb shanks, for example?? The steaks?? Grilled octopus? What else????

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  1. m

    I agree that Casa Mono deserves more discussion. I was there over the weekend for a late Saturday lunch and enjoyed all the dishes I tried.
    The fried sardines, which were larger than usual, were dusted with the faintest trace of wondra flour and expertly deep-fried in extra virgin olive oil. I did discover though that when the sardines get past a certain size, one does have to pay a bit more attention than usual to the usually completely edible bones.
    The cockles, steamed with thin, browned slivers of garlic and mixed with a rough scramble of eggs and tiny cubes of pork was truly delicious and paired up very nicely with the Lusco Albarino that we were drinking.

    Additionally, the "jamon a mano" was a very tasty platter of thinly sliced serrano ham.

    The sweetbreads are reason alone to visit Casa Mono -- I called them "Kentucky Fried Sweetbreads" in a post several months ago and that moniker still could apply.

    Finally, the duck egg is great and should be tried.

    I guess the chief and most valid complaint to be lodged against Casa Mono is the cramped confines in which all this great food is served. It can approach unpleasant during the dinner rush. Otherwise, the place has really come into its own.

    3 Replies
    1. re: millefeuille

      rabbit, quail, oxtail stuffed peppers, lomo, razor clams-all great!

      1. re: guttergourmet

        razor clams, brussel sprouts,
        pumpkin croquettes, rabbit, venison, etc.

        1. re: pebbles

          Don't get the fried ancovies.

          I 2nd, 3rd and 4th the duck egg and the sweetbreads.

    2. i've had mixed experiences there...the scallions are delicious and the cauliflower is good too...the fried anchovies are heavily breaded and greasy...service was so awful and rude one time that i considered never returning, but one of my best friends goes there often so i sometimes meet him there...overall, i think the dishes need to more consistent and i find some of them very overpriced (i.e. even the delicious scallions: should not cost 7 dollars for a few green onions with a little sauce...)

      1 Reply
      1. re: Simon

        Interesting that you had such poor service at Casa Mono because, when we had our one dinner there, we had just the opposite experience, i.e., our server couldn't have been nicer and more helpful, in addition to be very efficient.

        There were three of us, and we ordered a variety of dishes, none of which was a dud. Since it was quite a while ago, my recall as to which we favored is hazy, but the pumpkin croquettes, the lamb, and the patatas come to mind. The dessert sundae was also delish.

      2. We had a terrific meal there this past weekend (our first). We liked every dish we tried. I thought the Lengua (tongue), duck egg and pork loin were phenomenal. Other great dishes were: fried rabbit, patatas (side), lamb shank, mussels w/chorizo. The service was fine, although a bit "cold". Enjoy!

        1. Love, love, llove it! Consistently tasty -- love the small dishes -- which aren't so small once you start eating -- great fryer: sweetbreads and pumpkin croquettas a must -- we get them every time -- my husband loves the duck egg (a little too breadfasty for me) -- octopus with it's greens are a perfect lunch, I could go on and on.

          wines are terrific -- lots available by the glass

          I'm usually too full for dessert, but crema catalana is very good

          1. I'll show some love for Casa Mono. Do not miss: Sweetbreads, sardnies, piquillo peppers and the setas. Wine list if you don't already know is top notch. Try the reasonably priced Laurona Montsant or one of the great wines from Toro.

            1. Went there recently and was none too impressed. Only two out of the ten or so dishes we had really did anything for me (the duck egg with mojama and the pan roasted asparagus). I also found the wine markups to be quite unreasonable (saw many bottles on the list that I had elsewhere for much less) and the "sommelier" to be somewhat rude. I want to go back, but with Tia Pol in town, I don't see much of a reason.

              5 Replies
              1. re: iheartoffal

                We went once last year to check it out. Cramped space is not enjoyable space. The price/value ratio didn't look so good so we walked. Mario's empire is just that. He's spread thinly. We're going to Tia Pol next time in the City. The Spanish do tapas much better.

                1. re: Marco

                  Have you read HEAT by Bill Buford? He discusses the chef, Andy, who used to work at Babbo, yes, but grew up in Spain. He based the menu on Bar Pinotxo in Barcelona. I'm not sure if this restaurant is even a part of the Batali empire - the book indicates that Andy raised the money by borrowing from the bank and family. Why make the comment - "The Spanish do tapas much better" - when it appears you haven't even eaten there!

                  1. re: Petitpois

                    Heat is on my wish list. I just heard about it last week. As far as I know, Casa Mono is a Mario-backed enterprise. I'm sure the food is good in most cases, but like most tapas/small plates it can add up very quickly.(re the post about $7 for some scallions+) Mario insists that the food here is not tapas. He won't use the word. There was once a great place called El Calle(?), as I recall, on Amsterdam @75th that had the best tapas that I've had in NYC to date bar none. It rivalled some of the places in Andalucia that I'd eaten at. BTW, we learned after our trip why tapas in Barcelona didn't seem as good as the tapas in Andalucia. Tapas is not Catalonia's forte. In the rest of Spain, especially Andalucia, tapas is a way of life. Unfortunately, El Calle opened in the late 80's before tapas became widely known in the city and they folded within a couple of years. They knew how to cook tapas.
                    Since I haven't eaten at Casa Mono, you're correct in what you say. My remarks should be taken with that in mind or simply disregarded. We've have eaten at Otto twice and will never return. It's way over-hyped and priced. I'm no authority, but I do know when a meal is more than decent and priced reasonably.

                    1. re: Petitpois

                      Andy is a partner in the restaurant, but Batali/Bastinach still have a stake in it. It is part of the Batali empire much as Lupa and Babbo are. All "Batali" restaurants have different partners involved, with Mario, Joe and Jason Denton being the most prominent ones.

                      1. re: CDB

                        Well, I stand corrected, though the book HEAT portrays Mario's role at Casa Mono much differently. It discusses Andy's dream (it implies he's the owner?) of opening up a Spanish restaurant inspired by Cal Pep and Bar Pinotxo in the Boqueria food market, and doesn't call the food tapas. It also talks about Casa Mono's small size and how Andy had to artfully configure the tables to make sure he could break even every night. Anyway, interesting insights into this tiny restaurant. I still think it's unfair to judge a restaurant before tasting the food. P.S. HEAT also has some interesting (and not too flattering) paragraphs on Otto.

                2. My first visit was a few weeks ago. Ate alone at the bar, and the bartender was friendly; the sweetbreads were superb. Last night I finally got there with my lady. Razor clams, scrambled eggs with cockles, and the duck heart cassoulet were terrific! Wine was excellent, and we got good guidance from the sommelier, as Spanish wines are not our forte. The service was attentive.
                  OK - it's small, crowded and noisy, so it is not for everyone, but we liked it a lot and plan to take our out of town foodies there next month.

                  1. Croquetas de bacalao with orange allioli, cockscombs excellent. Service excellent - prices very fair for quality. One of my favorite places.