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Anyone ever walk-in to Casa Mono?

I've got a friend coming into town for dinner tomorrow who's dying to try Casa Mono, except he only told me that bit today... I called and of course nothing until after 10:30, although they do accept walk-ins but were sketchy on details.

Anyone have any experience with this? We're planning on getting there around 7:30 and we're both happy to go to bar Jamon and have some drinks while we wait. But anyone ever do the walk-in thing at CM? Any guidance on how long we should plan to wait?

We could always setup Irving Mill as a backup in case it starts getting past 9:30 and we need to eat.

(P.S. Already tried Table Exchange...)

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  1. I generally go for lunch. But I remember walking in one evening at 6:00P on a weekend without reservations. The hostess seemed really hesitant and said she would be able to put us in the corner but we could only stay there 1.5 hours. Well, two hours later the restaurant was only about 60% full. I'm sure they probably were booked but it seemed like a lot of people either canceled last minute or did not bother to call at all. I can't say that is representative of every evening at Casa Mono, but I don't think it would hurt to stop by.

    1. I've only gone for lunch, but in my experience, on several occasions, they've turned us away when we've called that morning for a reservation, but when we've shown up, we've always gotten a table. But, I have no idea how, or if, that translates to dinner. Good luck - it's one of our favorite places. Have you been before (if not, I'll find links to some of our favorite dishes)?

      1. I've walked in twice and it's been fine. Once it was two of us for a late dinner on a Friday and once it was just me solo on a sunday around 6:30. Both times I was seated at the bar and both times the place had periods of fullness but was never packed.

        If you got there a little earlier I think you'll be fine. However if you need to wait and Bar Jamon is overly crowded The House is on the next corner which has a nice bar and usually a little more breathing room. Enjoy! I love Casa Mono!

        http://nyctastes.blogspot.com/2007/10...

        1. I've done it a bunch of times. The longest wait I can recall was maybe 45 minutes on a Friday night (although they called me after 30) and on some Friday nights I've even gotten seats right away. The hostess takes your cell phone number and call when the table is ready. Bar Jamon often gets very crowded, but there are a bunch of bars in the area that are pleasant. For wine, you can usually snag a bar seat at The House which is right down 17th, closer to union sq.

          1. Thanks all, this is really helpful info.

            And MMRuth, it is my first trip so would love any recommendations... I hear the razor clams and the salted cod (bacala) are musts. But any other suggestions are welcome.

            Thanks again everyone.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Spends Rent on Food

              Hi SRoF,

              I bet MMRuth will tell you this: Duck Egg with Mojama! ;D

              It's my favorite too! I also enjoy their fideos with chorizo and clams, sweetbreads, lamb tongues, and soft shell crabs (seasonal).

              Their dessert Crema Catalana (sort of like a creme brulee) with the fried sage leaves was the dessert that Ilan copied and offered as his dessert dish on Top Chef!

              1. re: kobetobiko

                Links to my recs (and those of others):

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/510941
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/461891
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/522160

                Enjoy!

                P.S. I also like the crema catalan - though I think the bunuelos have bay leaves in them.

            2. I've only done walk in, but I've only eaten on off nights as well (mostly Sunday). For a party of 2, I've never had to wait long.

              1. i did the same thing a few weeks ago: walked into casa mono cold around 8 p.m. and asked for a bar seat. i was told to wait next door (bar jamon) and they would get me when something opened up. two cavas and one stunning ham plate later (yes, the acorn-fed piggie stuff that's recently been approved for import) and i was escorted to my seat at cm. the wait was about 45 minutes. well worth it.

                1. Don't forget the pumpkin goat cheese croquettas!! They are amazing as well (honestly everything is).

                  1. i've done it and it's generally worked out ok, although like others here have said, be prepared to wait a while just in case...

                    please report back and tell us what your experience is...the first couple times i went there (ages ago) they pulled some of the typical Batali haughty table-turning shenanigans, but the last few times (last summer and during the year before that) it was fine

                    1. Thanks everyone - dinner last night was just as you had predicted:
                      The short version? Waited 30 minutes at The House - and was promptly seated for one of my favorite meals so far this year.

                      The unabridged version:
                      7:30 - Got a text from my friend: '1hr wait at CM - Jamon packed" I texted him back to be sure to leave his phone # with the host and meet me at The House. Excellent call on the wine bar here, it was a great start to the night. 30 minutes and half of my enormous 'glass' of Carmenere later, his phone rang.

                      The Host explained they'd need the table back by 9:30 so we grabbed the waiter and started ordering immediately. This was easy after the recommendations from everyone on the boards. (in fact a couple next to us started asking us to recommend dishes for them... I guess they thought we were regulars?)

                      We ordered:
                      Calamari
                      Sweetbreads with fennel
                      Fois Gras
                      Bacalao
                      Duck Egg with Mojama
                      Soft shell crabs
                      Patatas Bravas
                      Lamb with Sweet peas & mint
                      Guinea Hen (at this point the waiter suggested not ordering the guinea hen as we had probably over-ordered. Having a waiter suggest that we order 'less' is a first for me, so we held the order, until after we decided if we needed more).

                      Everything was excellent, and the portions much larger than we expected, our favorites:
                      The sweetbreads were perfectly cooked - crispy on the outside, but melt in your mouth once you bite into them. And the fennel wasn't too sweet, in fact it was the perfect accompaniment. This was our favorite dish

                      A close second were both the duck egg and the fois gras. My friend likes to joke that if you wrap fois gras in a sweatsock, I'd think it was the best thing ever - which is probably true, but it really was tremendous at CM. Both of these dishes were (obviously) very rich, perfectly seasoned (the fois was a little more salted than my friend preferred, but I thought it necessary to keep the flavors from getting too muddied). And my friend proclaimed the Cebollas alone were worth the trip.

                      This isn't to say we didn't like the other dishes, they were all very good - although the breading on the softshell crabs wasn't as crispy as it could have been, but that's really the biggest complaint of the night - and it's not even a complaint.

                      As for the lamb, they brought it out last, but instead of the lamb with sweet peas & mint they brought out the lamb tongue. We explained the error to the waiter and he asked if we were full, since he'd gladly swap in a dessert for the lamb. After thinking about it, we bailed on the lamb (and the guinea hen in case you were wondering) and ordered the creme bruelee and the cantaloupe sorbet. Now... (if you're still reading at this point)

                      ... I love creme brulee, and I like cantaloupe, and I'm on the fence about sorbet. And if given the option between the two, 10 times out of 10 I'd order the creme brulee. But at Casa Mono I'd be making a huge mistake - because the 'cantaloupe sorbet in sweet wine' had more flavor than I could ever associate with cantaloupe. And I already can't wait to go back for it again. It was tremendous.

                      It was at this point we realized it was 9:45, the waiter must have noticed us getting fidgety as he came right over and said not to worry, we could stay as long as we wanted.

                      We ended up finishing the wine and headed up to the bar at the Modern to recap the meal and plan the next one (so I'll have more than a day to prepare next time).

                      Thanks again for your help everyone - your advice was spot on... as usual.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                        Thanks for the report. I don't think you missed much with the lamb's tongue there. It's deep-fried and way too heavy for my taste.

                        Yes, the portions are huge -- way larger than other tapas restaurants. I first was looking at your list in awe because there were so many dishes. Good thing you skipped a few.

                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          I'd noticed this on their website awhile ago:

                          "Casa Mono features raciones of Catalan specialties and serves dishes from all corners of Spain" - referring to the dishes as raciones, rather than tapas. I learned the word from another 'hound awhile back.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            Interesting! Actually, I just found this in Wikipedia:

                            In Andalusia, tapas can be "upgraded" to bigger portions, equivalent to half a dish (media ración) or a whole one (ración). This is generally more economical when a tapa is being ordered by more than one person. The portions are usually shared by diners, and a meal made up of raciones resembles a Middle Eastern mezze or Chinese dim sum.

                        2. re: Spends Rent on Food

                          So glad you enjoyed your meal and also went to The House. The wine bar there is so lovely and a much calmer spot for a drink before an awesome diner!

                          1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                            Hi SRoF,

                            Thanks for the report back. I also love their sweetbreads because they are served as "nuggets" and not the whole giant piece like Jean George or Robuchon. That way you get to share with friends. I like their version better than Momofuku's. I have heard people found them too salty, but it was fine for me as I tend to like food a tad saltier than most people.

                            Last time when I had the soft shell crab the coating was actually quite light and crispy but the bottom got soggy as it was sitting on a bed of salad.

                            I am surprised you didn't order the razor clams! Next time? The fideos on the clam dish was also quite delicious.

                            I haven't tried the cantalope sorbet and it sounded delicious. I have had a great cantalope sorbet at Cafe Boulud before, and the ones at Ciao Bella was actually quite good.

                          2. I went to Casa Mono once (on a very crowded Thursday night) and found my serve to be downright rude. Did anyone else experience bad service or did I just get a bad apple?

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: MsAlyp

                              There have been varying reports - some posters have had negative experiences, I've been fortunate enough not to, though I've only been at lunch.

                              1. re: MsAlyp

                                Our server was actually very helpful and friendly, although the host had a bit of an edge.

                                1. re: MsAlyp

                                  I haven't had bad service.

                                  1. re: Lucia

                                    Actually most of the time I found the service to be quite bad. May be because I often visited during busy hours, the server often forgot what I asked, for it be water or something else. But I didn't consider them being rude. I guess they were just too stretched.

                                    My biggest complaint about Casa Mono is the super cramped seatings. It was impossible not to hear what other tables were talking about. Though it could be quite amusing sometimes.

                                    1. re: kobetobiko

                                      FWIW, if I can, I try to be seated at a table in one of the windows - yes, it is cramped, particularly if you need to get out before the end of the meal - but I find that those tables are slightly more sheltered.

                                2. Yep, once:

                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/489356

                                  1. I've done it twice. Had to wait at the bar next door for a little while but otherwise it was no problem.