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Jason Perlow

Casa Mono and Bar Jamón

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What has anyone heard about this place? Its supposed to be opening shortly. Apparently its in the former location of Irving on Irving. Andy Nusser from Babbo is the new Chef De Cuisine.

Its at 17th and Irving, 52 Irving Place.

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alacarte   

FYI alert: Cafe Jamon has opened on Irving Place. It's a teeny-tiny, dark but inviting space. It's a ham bar (of all things) -- selling smoked ham ("jamon"), Spanish cheeses, etc. It opened right before Thanksgiving. I have yet to see a human being eating there, so I'd advise hurrying over before it gets reviewed.

Right next door, Casa Mono (right, Suzanne, the former Irving-on-Irving spot) is not yet open. The sign is up, but clearly they still are tearing up the insides. If my rusty Spanish suffices, Casa Mono translates roughly into "Monkey House." Cute name. Although I still think House of Mononucleosis every time I walk by, which is often.

I'm not sure if the two are related, but given the Spanish theme I assume that they are, and that Cafe Jamon will be the Craftbar to Casa Mono's Craft.

No sign as to what's going into Verbena's former space, it's all papered over still.

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bourdain   

Bar Jamon did an event/reception thing for Adria and Arzak when they were in town--so I'm guessing they feel pretty confident about getting it right. Looking forward to going to both places.

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JosephB   

Just to make clear, Bar Jamon and Casa Mono are both new Batali/Bastianich ventures, according to the NYTimes 12-3-03. With Spain a hot topic in the food world, I guess these guys think it's time to capitalize. I haven't been to these new places yet, but I'm sure B&B have a smart formula.

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alacarte   

OK, here's a question for all you restaurateurs, food publicists, and anyone else with an opinion:

I walked past Casa Mono last night. It's a small place, close to the sidewalk, all windows, so anyone passing by can see inside at a glance. The sign on the door said that the restaurant is not yet open. However...the place was full of happy eating people.

Who are these people? Food reviewers? Food journalists (non reviewers?) Friends of the chefs? Financial backers? General VIPs?

Is this part of the whole "buzz" creating process, or a typical part of the planning-to-open-a-restaurant process. Most restaurants are more private than CM's set-up, so this very well may be a regular thing, but perhaps I've never witnessed it before.

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Who are these people? Food reviewers? Food journalists (non reviewers?) Friends of the chefs? Financial backers? General VIPs?

all are possibilities, but i'm guessing it's not food media, because they would probably have those Monday-Friday.

my money'd be on friends of chef/VIPs/investors/etc.

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I agree with Herb's last statement -- although they might also be food writers previewing the place, not to write it up, but to get an idea of what it's like so that they can START to write about it. Remember, Fat Guy just mentioned having been invited to a press preview of Asiate. So why not the B&B team doing the same?

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see, way i see it, smart PR people know not to schedule stuff for media on the weekends.

even if they're not writing about it right there, it's still work. and they're not going to be the ones to request the journalists work on the weekend if they don't have to.

but again, that's just guessing.

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Might it also be a soft opening by invitation? No media unless they are frineds of the owners but assorted other friends, family etc. are invited for a few evenings to enjoy meals gratis while the kitchen and front end staff get to work out some bugs and develop a working pace together. I don't know if this is done in NYC but even here in backwater Syracuse it's a common practice for enlightened restarauteurs opening a new location.

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Big E   

On our way to Yama for sushi last night my girlfriend and I walked past Casa Mono, and we decided to try it instead. Last night happened to be the opening night and we had a wonderful experience. We sat at the back bar (6 or 7 seats?) and there is also a bar (again around 6 or 7 seats) on the side of the restaurant which faces the open kitchen. The interior reminded me of a darker and smaller Otto - tons of shelves with bottles of wine, etc. But on to the important part...

The menu consists of small plates arranged somewhat by size and course, but there are no divisions on the menu i.e. no defined appetizers or mains. Prices range from $3 - $15 per dish. We ordered 2 different spanish reds by the glass, and enjoyed the mixed olives that were far better than the usual complimentary olives in NYC.

Our first round of dishes was roasted brussel sprouts a la plancha, bacalao croquetas with orange alioli, cockles with huevos revueltos, and a duck egg with mojama. The brussel sprouts were good, but somewhat plain when compared to the other dishes. Bacalao croquetas were wonderfully light and flavorful with a very crisp exterior and a soft center, but the amount of orange alioli was a little overpowering. After my first bite I used it sparingly. Cockles were also very good, but the best of this round of dishes was definitely the duck egg. It's a fried duck egg over roasted figerling potatoes and serrano ham, I believe. A wonderful dish that I will be back for soon.

For our second round of dishes we got pumpkin and goat cheese croquetas, sweetbreads with fennel al Mono, tripe with chickpeas and morcilla, and scallops with cava and chorizo (different from posted menu). We were comped the croquetas (only got 3 instead of 5) because they had run out of batter, which was a shame because they were excellent. Smaller than the bacalao croquetas, the goat cheese flavors were much more pronounced than the pumpkin. Sweetbreads with fennel was our favorite dish of this round, just a great combination. Tripe with chickpeas also worked well and would be great on a very cold winter evening. Scallops were beautifully presented in their shells, and were very fresh, but the dish wasn't as exciting in taste as it was in presentation.

We shared a "Mono Sundae" (prune and armagnac ice cream with arrope-- grape must with pumpkin???) for dessert, which we both agreed was one of the best and most interesting desserts we've had this year. Also had a great glass of sherry with it (with a tad poured over the sundae).

Bill for the night, including 7 dishes, 1 dessert, 3 glasses of wine and a glass of sherry, was around $135. Overall, we had a really wonderful time and will return again with friends to try even more of the dishes - looking forward to the lamb and the skirt steak which both looked great. One warning: they do not have enough ventilation for the grill station so whenever someone orders the lamb the room fills with smoke. If you're sensitive to this type of thing I suggest you avoid the restaurant until they clear up that problem.

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alacarte   

Big E, you get extra points for the photo of the menu!

thanks for the report -- and the heads-up that CM now is open to the rest of us plebes.

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sammy   

What are "Cock's Combs" served with green chiles?

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jogoode   
What are "Cock's Combs" served with green chiles?

Probably the bump on the heads of roosters and other fowl. But I think females can have it, too. You know, the funny red thing exaggerated in cartoons that looks like a filled-out three-fingered glove. :smile:

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bourdain   

After my first line shift in over a year--working saute station, I limped down to meet St Mario at Casa Mono. The cock's combs were indeed wonderful--as were the chipirones with white beans. Awesome cuttlefish..My favorite was the tripe with chickpeas and morcilla. Also great, the duck egg with mojama and a cap i pota fria ( I think this was veal head and pig foot--and pequillo peppers--served like a jellied tripe or head cheese--and delicious, delicious.

Rest of menu:

pan con tomate

jamon serrano a mano

ensalada mono with manchego

bacaloa croquetas with orange aioli

fried anchovies

pumpkin goat cheese croquettes

setas with garlic

calaramis frotos

cockles with huevos revueltos

sepia ala plancha with salsa verde

pulpo a la plancha

scallops with cava and chorizo

quail with quince and grenada

sweetbreads with fennel

guineau hen with cardoons

duck with olives

lamb with preserved lemon

skirt steak with onion marmalada

pequillo peppers with oxtails

wild boar with escalivada

artichokes a la plancha

parsnips a la plancha

scallions with romesco

patatas bravas

The place is about as casual as a place can be--and it sounds like it will eventually be open very late--until 2 AM, which will make it perfect for cooks and chefs getting off work.

Next Batali move: The imminent opening of the Spotted Pig.

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jogoode   

Thanks, bourdain.

I couldn't be happier with the sound of this place -- open late, casual, serves good tripe. How big is the place anyway?

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bourdain   

Tiny. Maybe 10-12 counter seats, no tablecloths.. seating for 30 (or less) at the tables. Cooks slinging pinchos from behind the counter--as in Spain. It's a storefront space. Mario fell very much under the influence of Cal Pep and Pinotxo on recent trips to Barcelona. Which is a good thing.


Edited by bourdain (log)

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jogoode   
Tiny. Maybe 10-12 counter seats, no tablecloths.. seating for 30 (or less) at the tables.  Cooks slinging pinchos from behind the counter--as in Spain. 

sounds beautiful.

"pan con tomate", I assume, is that simple serving of bread rubbed with tomato I've heard so much about but never tried. You eat any last night?

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