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Underwhelmed by Bistro 63/Monkey Bar, Amherst, MA

Dave MP Aug 11, 2006 06:07 PM

I just got back from lunch with extended family at Monkey Bar in Amherst, MA...we sat on the terrace which was really nice (there were 9 of us total). Nice and shady, they do a great job hiding the fact that it overlooks a parking lot. No complaints there.

Food on the other hand was not exciting and in some cases, poorly executed. I shared an order of the butternut squash soup as an appetizer. This was quite good....spiced with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

All but one of us ordered from the lunch specials menu. My brother and I both ordered "Royal Burgers" (with bacon and bleu cheese), cooked medium. I was pretty disappointed with the burgers. Both were cooked completely well done (not even a trace of pink anywhere) and were served with lettuce and tomato on french bread. The bread was not bad and the bleu cheese was good....very small amount of bacon (and not a very large burger overall either). The fries clearly wished they were crispy, but were slightly underfried and limp.

I wasn't impressed by much else at the table either. My dad ordered a salad that contained crabmeat, mango, spinach in a ginger/cream dressing (which was served on the side). The salad was served in an embarrassingly stale and flavorless taco shell bowl. My grandmother had some sort of chicken quesadilla...fine but not very imaginative. My mom's thai chicken wrap wasn't very special either. All of the food was really just OK and definitely nothing more (with the possible exception of the squash soup).

Service was friendly but not very good....a refill on my dad's iced tea took over 20 minutes (probably close to 30) despite a reminder. Food orders also got completely mixed up, which isn't a big deal at all but is also pretty easy to avoid. I would probably not bother having lunch at Monkey Bar ever again which is too bad since the patio is so nice. However, almost every other lunch (and dinner) option in Amherst that I can think of has better food (whether it's a slice at Antonio's, Thai Corner, Amherst Chinese, Black Sheep, Pasta E Basta, Fresh Side, Judie's, ABC, Chez Albert, La Veracruzana etc. etc.). That's about all for now....

Dave MP

  1. c
    carolbf May 29, 2009 09:10 AM

    I have to agree with the 'underwhelmed' contingency here. I live in Amherst and every once in a while I eat there, mostly out of desperation, hoping that the food has miraculously improved since the last time. No such luck - it is usually a disappointment. Plus, the chairs are incredibly uncomfortable. The bar is ok and a few of the appetizers are decent. Unfortunately, Amherst doesn't have much to offer in this category.

    1. andytee May 28, 2009 03:52 PM

      Underwhelmed in the word - this place is totally mediocre, an OK place to drink and if you want to eat food while drinking it will do, but definitely nothing special or a place with anyone credible recommending it (i.e. more than one post on Chowhound).

      And yeah, the burger, which should be hard to screw up - my experience with it is that it has always been overcooked, with wilted lettuce and a too-dense french bread that makes it hard to enjoy.

      2 Replies
      1. re: andytee
        b
        Big Fat Moe May 28, 2009 04:44 PM

        I like the Monkey Bar for a nice martini or two. Then I go elsewhere to eat.
        Moe

        1. re: Big Fat Moe
          n
          nuthatches May 29, 2009 08:19 AM

          We've had decent martinis there, too, but when we stopped in for lunch a few weeks ago the bartender told us that the bar selections were going to be significantly revamped, and it sounded to me that he was planning to remove a number of the more interesting artisanal vodkas, gins, etc... from their stock.
          Foodwise, we've found a couple of apps that will do in a pinch (blackened scallops are o.k., so are the crab cakes), but yeah, lots of unimaginative dishes and the salads are overdressed. I place it firmly in the category of a very occasional alternative to other area places we enjoy more (such as Sierra Grill in NoHo), and only for an after work/weeknight bite out -- would not waste a weekend evening there.

      2. p
        pepoling May 27, 2009 09:51 AM

        The only reason to go here is for the bar.

        1. h
          hollerhither May 26, 2009 07:50 PM

          I went there once and was very underwhelmed. Overpromises, underdelivers. Haven't bothered to return, when there are many better options in the area.

          1. j
            jss130 May 26, 2009 02:12 PM

            As a recent graduate of UMass Amherst, I wanted to leave you with a few comments about the Monkey Bar/Bistro 63. I highly recommend it to everyone. I have experienced everything that the Monkey bar has had to offer. My friends and I spent a number of nights enjoying a few drinks, socializing with each other, and listening to various disc jockeys. The monkey bar is the most enjoyable bar in the area. You can always get a drink, the bartenders are fun, and the bouncers do an amazing job. I attended a number of “pre-interview” buffet styled dinners with various companies in Amherst hosting an icebreaker the night before the interview. The servers handled large parties like this very well. It provides a professional environment which is appropriate for this type of situation. I have enjoyed lunches and dinners with friends and family. The night before graduation a group of my friends and our families had a big dinner and drinks here as well. I have never had a problem there, the service is great, the food is amazing, and the bar is a lot of fun. There is a nice, classy, modern atmosphere presence here. Monkey Bar/Bistro 63 has so much to offer, and in every situation I have been involved in it has truly been the best.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jss130
              j
              jasonbr Jul 3, 2011 07:53 PM

              Monkey bar= after hours, Bistro63= real restaurant

              After dinner they pick the tables up and have just a bar. No food.

            2. l
              landrew5671 May 26, 2009 11:20 AM

              "Stumbled on this restaurant while visitng my son at Amherst College from Manhattan. My husband and I were amazed at the superiod quality, value, presentation, service and overall experience at this gem of a place. They squeezed us in on a Friday, the server suggested the seafood pescatore and surf and turf...Delicately done adn hearty! Amherst is pretty lucky to have such a restaurant which could easily rival any in Manhattan. Wish they were in NYC."

              Janice and Rob M.

              2 Replies
              1. re: landrew5671
                BerkshireTsarina May 26, 2009 01:59 PM

                Where did you find the quote? It IS a quote, isn't it?

                1. re: BerkshireTsarina
                  h
                  hollerhither May 26, 2009 07:51 PM

                  Looks to me like someone is doing damage control. Both one-time posters.

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