New fall menu at Casa Mono
Disclaimer: I'm a one trick pony and I go here often, though last night was my first visit in a couple of months. There are a lot of new dishes on the menu, plus new preparations.
My friend and I ordered a lot of the standard items, but also had the new goat liver pate which ROCKED--as in, go there now and get it. Served with buttered/oiled toast and a grape salad. Truly fantastic. Bone marrow was a bit of a dud - I'm no expert, but if it gets too much heat does all the goodness go away, or did we just get crappy bones? It's a great looking dish, served with a radish salad, but we only got a couple bites.
Also offered was a special of duck hearts, and a gigantic lamb shank that looked amazing. There's a goat confit on the menu, new pork preparations, lots of great fall ingredients.
But seriously, go get the goat liver pate. WOW.
I tried the duck hearts last night. Ew. Just not for me, but they come on a skewer over a ceramic dish of a mix of farmers market squashes - butternut, spaghetti and perhaps one other. Finished with a sauce that I cannot recall and some toasted pumpkin/squash seeds. Nice flavors, but the hearts were too gross.
I also had the lamb shank special which is enormous and absolutely fantastic. Fall off the bone meat, wonderfully seasoned, on a bed of chickpea puree and harissa. Really awesome fall dish.
We went for lunch yesterday with my visting brother in law and his wife who just love Casa Mono. We called at 10 am and were able to get a reservation for six for 12:30, but ended up changing it four people at 1:00 without a problem.
Unfortunately, the goat liver pate wasn't on the menu - I asked, and it wasn't available. We had:
Jamon Iberico - luscious, though pricey.
Pan con Tomate (2 orders) - my sister in law loves this - it wasn't as good as last time, but I think the tomatoes weren't as nice. It's particularly good when dunked in the olive oil that the olives come in.
Bacalao Croquetas with Orange Alioli - one of my favorites usually, but they weren't as good this time - I thought the alioli was a bit oily, and that the croquetas were dry and flavorless.
Duck Egg with Mojama - another favorite of mine, on a bed of wonderful roasted/fried fingerling potatoes.
Hudson Valley Pork with Apples and Sidra - I thought I'd ordered the pork belly, but got this instead. The pork chop was incredibly moist, and the dish had great flavors.
Lamb Shank with Garbanzos and Harissa - as another poster mentioned, it's huge and excellent - incredibly tender meat.
Foie Gras with Cinco Cebollas - another long standing favorite that was as good as always.
Patatas Bravas - also a favorite, great sauce with pimenton and leeks, I think.
Crema Catalana con Buñuelos - the bunuelos have a bay leaf inside, and the crema catalan has a v. crisp layer of hardened caramel, and then the creamy crema.
Pudín de Naranja - bread budding, with a burnt, caramely sauce, and fantastic rich caramel ice cream.
I know why we keep going back!
I also really like the sardines and some of the other seafood dishes, but the people I was with don't like a lot of seafood, so I didn't order any this time. Have fun! By the way, they have a quite reasonable rose cava there, if that would appeal for a birthday celebration. I think I may have posted it or have the name somewhere if you want me to find it for you. I think it was under $50.
Just came back from quite a satisfying dinner -- since it was mother's birthday and we both love seafood, we got through quite a few plates:
- Calamares fritos -- pretty ordinary, could've used a bit more salt. I don't remember whether it was supposed to come with any dipping sauce, but it would've been great with a bit of aioli.
- Sardinas fritas -- mom loved these; very reminiscent of the sardinas I ate while in Madrid. Served with a side salad of mostly fennel, which I can't stand, but it didn't seem to impact the flavor of the fish.
- Razor clams a la plancha -- impossibly tender, though I could have done without the parsley(?) scattered on top.
- Sepia a la plancha -- loved the presentation and it was a generous portion, though served with a very forgettable salsa verde.
- Pulpo with fennel and grapefruit -- the biggest personal disappointment, since I was expecting a Galician-style presentation (thick, tender slices, a drizzle of good olive oil, sprinkled pimentón). Instead, several baby octopi arrived on a bed of fennel and grapefruit...and were cooked slightly beyond my liking, though just short of rubbery. I love pulpo in all forms, and had had a fantastic version at Boqueria last night (barely cooked and lightly dressed, tossed with a salad of mixed greens -- on the specials list), so this was a little disappointing.
We tried some others:
- Sweetbreads with fennel al Mono -- in the name of nudging my parents' willingness to try new things, I decided it was as good a time as any to push sweetbreads. Plus, I love them/offal in general. This was great: very rich and satisfying, crisp on the outside from a light frying, barely detectable fennel.
- Skirt steak with onion mermelada -- I guess I'm asking for it if it's a mermelada, but the onions were a bit too sweet for me. The steak was cooked a perfect medium rare.
- Hudson Valley pork with apples and sidra -- as per MMRuth's report, the pork was indeed moist, much moreso than I had expected. I usually prefer steak/beef to pork, but this stole the show.
- Patatas bravas -- again, a tiny bit of personal disappointment as I was expecting something else (usually, they're cubed, fried, and served with two sauces). I actually didn't like the sauce -- it overwhelmed the potatoes and made them a bit soggy, imho, but again, I think my personal expectation played a large part in my reaction.
Neither of my parents drink, so I got a cuarto of the Izadi Reserva 2002 Rioja, which was decent. Having feasted like gluttons, we didn't have any room for dessert. The Pudín de Naranja sounded amazing though!
Casa Mono, like most other tapas bars, was crowded and loud -- tables on top of each other, incessant chatter, servers weaving through everything -- not the best place to take a set of aging parents who like to spread out and talk. The backs of our chairs were jostled occasionally by staff without a word or glance from them, which I would expect and tolerate in such a small space. However, my mother was having none of it, so we ended up switching seats in the middle of the meal. Not a dealbreaker, considering how much we loved the food, but I know it'll be a future point of contention. As for the service, I found it just adequate -- not quite as attentive as I usually expect, but our server was a bit frazzled and seemed to be doing his best.
Next time, I'd sit at the counter and save some room for dessert. I've got my eye on that manchego with membrillo as well...