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Jan 27, 2008 08:07 AM

Review: Casa Mono

We decided to try and walk-in at Casa Mono for dinner last night. We arrived at 7 pm and were provided a table for 2 with the caveat that we will have until 8:30 to finish up due to a full reservation night. Fair enough, we thought, for a Saturday night walk-in.

As a point of reference, we are very fond of our experiences at Tia Pol, La Boqueria, inoteca (Italian) and, to a lesser degree, Las Ramblas.

I must admit that we didn't stray much from having dishes that have been previously recommended on this board, and for the most part, the suggestions are spot on. Here's a rundown -

Pan Con Tomate is a bruschetta-like dish but was much tastier and which I attribute to the good olive oil and tomatoes that were used.

Razor Clams a la Plancha is a generous servings of about 8 full clams that's grilled just enough to make the clams slightly on the chewy side, but still a good and very satisfactory dish.

The Duck eggs with Mojama, in spite of the fact that I have not gotten the hang of really appreciating mojama, was terrific. The dish was deliciously-enhanced by sitting on a generous pool of good olive oil with truffle shavings. It was an extra treat to sop away the remaining olive oil with the provided table bread.

Pork Cheeks with Granada is slightly crispy pork cheeks with sauteed pomegranate and apples. This was just OK as the pork was overly salted for my taste.

Tripe is a dish that I usually order if available and would usually compare with those that I have high regards for (Peasant and Lupa) and Casa Mono's version, Tripe with Chickpeas, did not disappoint.

The wine list is exclusively Spanish and, as a sidenote, this is something that impresses me about Batali restaurants where the lists are usually deep in spite of being almost always regionalized to the cuisines being served. However, when compared to Lupa or Babbo, the mark-ups at Casa Mono appear to be on a much higher scale. We started with a cuartino of an Albarino whose name/producer/vintage escaped me, but it was light, slightly fruity and was a refreshing accompaniment to the razor clams dish. The bottle of 2003 Cellers Ripoll Sans Closa Batllet was new to me, and this red from the Priorat was well-structured with sufficient complexity and was approachable with waves of ripe red and black fruit.

Casa Mono is definitely one that we'd be adding to our list of preferred tapas place in the city.

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  1. It is excellent, the razor clams alone are worth a double order.
    It is just so pricey!!
    But I love going there on a Monday or Tuesday night.

    1. How do you think it compares to Tio Pol and Las Ramblas? We've not tried either (Tia Pol b/c of no reservations) and keep going back to Casa Mono, though we did try, and enjoy, Boqueria once. TIA

      9 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        I’m not sure how often the menu changes at Casa Mono, but they usually have good outside-the-menu specials at Tia Pol whenever we’re there. Casa Mono has the upscale setting, more elaborate foods and presentation, and all these are very much reflected in their higher pricing. Tia Pol has that more earthy and home-style feeling to it. Given our recent experience, and with Casa Mono being much more accessible to our home, we look to be going back there more often.

        1. re: RCC

          Thanks. The Casa Mono menu does change periodically, but they never have outside-the-menu specials.

          1. re: RCC

            As the portion sizes at Casa Mono are larger, I don't think there is as great of a price difference between Casa Mono and Tia Pol.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              That's good to know - we have this idea that Tia Pol is cheaper. Is there always a wait there - or is there a good time to go to avoid a wait?

              1. re: MMRuth

                I'm assuming you're talking about Tia Pol. You'll probably have a wait if you get there 6:30P or so. I've been there at 5:30P with no wait. 8P -- definitely huge wait.

                In comparison to Casa Mono, I would say Casa Mono is heartier and bolder in terms of flavors. Tia Pol is definitely excellent. You should give it a try at least once. However, If I had to choose one to go back to, I would probably pick Casa Mono.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Thanks - yes - Tia Pol was the place to which I was referring.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    any feel for what's it's like to walk into Casa Mono at 6:30 PM on a Friday night - wait-time-wise??

                    1. re: livetotravel

                      We've done it on a couple of occasions and, iirc, waited by the bar for no more than 20 minutes for a table for 2.

                      BTW, I haven't been in a few months, but the seats at Tia Pol does not have back rests and some have commented about them being uncomfortable.

                  2. re: MMRuth

                    Depending on what you order, the tab at Tia Pol can add up quickly. But the wine list, excellent though significantly shorter than at Casa Mono, is more moderately priced, and that can mitigate the overall bill. I've had surprisingly good luck walking in at odd times, like 5:45 or 9:45. In fact, in three visits I haven't had to wait even once.