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Casa Mono and Bar Jamón


Jason Perlow
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Went to Casa Mono last night. Since so much has been written about this place i dont really need to go into the menu or atmosphere. One thing i will say is that i was on my way to katz's deli while wearing; an inside out t-shirt, a baseball hat from college, and jeans that are 4 waist sizes too big for me without a belt and had no problem getting in.

For appetizers we had the cheese croquets, the cheese dessert plate, and the bar jamon. The croquets were too salty, needed a dipping sauce and were pretty boring. The cheese dessert place sucked. Three, six, and a year. Great. How inspiriing. The ham of the house. Good stuff.. I need one of those suckers at my computer to gnaw on all day.

Next we had lamb, skirt steak, and the sweet breads.. The sweet breads were interesting, always fun to tell my partner exactly what a sweetbread is while they are eating it for the first time. They were breaded with some type of ground almond powder. Very good, not great. The lamb chop was by far the best thing we ordered. Excellent. Seasoned perfectly.

The staff and managment was really great and the food was certainly good, but

I dont see myself returning anytime soon.

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So we tried Casa Mono this weekend. We didn't eat all that much since it was rather late, but we were a little disappointed.

Chipirones w/ White Beans - good, but the chipirones were a little overcooked and we felt the flavor was a little unidimensional. It also lacked the brininess of the same dish we had in Barcelona, which made me think perhaps the ingredients were not as fresh.

Scallions with Romesco - these were good, but the Romesco sauce was a good bit spicier than what we had in Spain. I thought the spiciness dominated the sauce and if there was any complexity to be found, I couldn't find it underneath that layer of heat.

Lamb with Favas and Mint - very tasty and perfectly cooked, but echo the comment above re: extremely salty

Sweetbreads with Fennel al Mono - Excellent. Slightly salty, but the flavors and textures were controlled very well. This was definitely the best dish of the night.

Chicken Liver a la plancha - I am not a liver fan, so it's hard for me to objective. My girlfriend thought this was good. I thought it was overpoweringly salty. (I suppose that is better than it being overpoweringly liver-y)

Total bill was about $75, which we both felt was high given that we didn't exactly gorge ourselves, had no drinks, and no dessert.

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  • 8 months later...

I ate there about a month ago and found the food to be excellent. We ordered the pumpkin and goat's cheese croquettes, the octopus, sweetbreads with fennel, the duck, and a most amazing chocolate cake. Everything was exceptionally tasty.

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I ate there a couple weeks ago.

Actually I know exactly what we got, because to aid ordering we wrote our selections out on a card that's been in my wallet since. There were three of us and we ordered 9 dishes total.

Duck egg, jamon a mano, pumpkin + cheese croquette, sweetbreads, lamb chops, quail w/ figs, duck with capers, artichokes, and a softshell crab special.

The meal was very nice. The only dish that I remember being disappointed with was the jamon, which just didn't taste special. The duck with capers was a standout. So were the crabs, which were sitting on a bed of creamy black truffly goodness.

This left us pleasantly full. A good big meal.

Also enjoyed the atmosphere - it was very early (5:30 pm) and the sun was still out, the weather was nice, and we sat near the open doors.

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Daniel,

We had reservations for a Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m. It's a small space, and we probably wouldn't have been seated without a reservation. It's possible to sit at the bar and eat, but I would do this as a solo venture.

Regards,

Melissa

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Daniel,

We had reservations for a Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m.  It's a small space, and we probably wouldn't have been seated without a reservation.  It's possible to sit at the bar and eat, but I would do this as a solo venture. 

Regards,

Melissa

It's a small place with small tables and not all that comfortable, nevertheless, I think the quality of the food merits reserving in advance. The problem is that the nature of the place itself isn't quite the kind of place that merits an "occaision." Frequently, it would be my first choice if I could walk in, or go on a short reservation, but when I plan weeks in advance, I tend to look for a place that's also more comfortable. All that just to ask how far in advance you made your reservation.

Although it's not all that authentically Spanish, it resembles the kind of place that in Madrid one would walk into without a reservation in an area surrounded by others that resembled it, but with food that didn't necessarily match in quality or a neighborhood tavern frequented by those in the neighborhood and a small group of connoisseurs. Here in NY, it's a scene unfortunately.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Bux, that was really well said.. I have been there and it was rather accident.. I was in the area on a weekend afternoon.. A year ago at least.. A date and I were walking by and lucked out by grabbing a seat. We had a couple of wines and maybe a sardine and some meat.. Excellent and the situation work out so well but wouldnt have worked if it was scheduled.

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  • 1 month later...

Yesterday evening, I met dosconz and JosephB at Madison Square Park to hear a concert by our friend Luciana Souza. Afterwards, we walked to Flatiron Lounge for a quick drink and thence to Casa Mono where we had a delightful dinner.

We arrived sometime around 9:30 and were offered a table almost immediately. As others have observed, it is a somewhat crowded restaurant by nature and not the most comfortable. Nevertheless, the food really is worth a trip.

We started with razor clams a la plancha, artichokes a la plancha and lamb's tongues. These were all delicious. The razor clams were infused with smokey flavor, chewy but tender, drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkling of garlic and parsley. We would happily have had another plate of this. Our only disappointment was that there were only five clams -- or perhaps I should say that it was Joe's disappointment, since he drew the short straw and only got one. The artichokes were also very good: cooked just through with a hint of smokiness and a bit of lemon. We also enjoyed the lengua, which was given an unusual (to us) treatment. They appeared to have been braised until tender, then given a coating of flour and deep fried to order. This made them crisp on the outside and very tender on the inside. They were served with a sweetish piquillo pepper sauce and a little salad of celery and pickled fiddlehead ferns. All in all, the meal started on a very high note.

Next they brought over a little dish of tripe stewed with chickpeas and morcilla, and "sweetbreads with fennel al Mono." The tripe was just tender without being gelatinous, and surrounded by a flavorful, porky liquid. Perhaps not as good as the tripa alla parmigiana at Babbo, but very nice. I think we all agreed, however, that it was really more of a winter dish. The sweetbreads, on the other hand, blew us away. I love sweetbreads, I think they're a natural match for anis flavors like fennel, and Batali's places always seem to have a great sweetbread dish. These were three approximately golfball-sized pieces of sweetbread fried with a crispy exterior and a coating of crushed almonds plated on top of several cooked baby fennels. This hit the same high note as the razor clams, and we agreed that we would have been very happy to have a double order of the sweetbreads.

Next we had giunea hen with piquillo peppers and some kind of greens, fideos with Manilla clams, fava beans and chorizo, and setas with garlic. The star of this group was the guinea hen. As I know from experience, guinea hen is not easy to cook. At Casa Mono two generous pieces came out just right at around "medium" or maybe even "medium rare" -- juicy, flavorful and tender with crisp skin and none of the chewiness that can be a problem with guinea hen. The fideos and setas, while good, were probably the least successful dishes of the evening. The setas were oyster mushrooms, which I like but do have a flavor that is not everyone's favorite. We also thought the cook might have let the oil flame in the pan to give them some smokey flavor. Unfortunately, it had just a hint of carbonized "lighter fluid" flavor in the background that detracted from the dish. The fideos were okay, but didn't really blow us away.

We saw others around us eating some lamb ribs and skirt steak that looked delicious. Next time, I'll order those and forego the fideos and setas.

To finish we shared the Mono sundae (plum ice cream with arrope and almonds annointed with Pedro Ximenes) and a kind of ice cream sandwich thing they were offering as a special.

All the above, plus a nice bottle of white wine docsconz picked out for us and a bottle of Vichy Catalan mineral water came to about 60 bucks a person with tip. That seems like a good value to me, and I left Casa Mono with the intention of returning again.

--

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Perfectly accurate report, Sam. The only thing I would add is that the service was excellent. Our waitress, Stacy (sp?), was extremely knowledgeable and attentive. Joe, who had previously had a couple of negative experiences with the restaurant, was quite pleased this time as well.

The wine was 2003 Naia, a verdejo (85%) and Viura (15%) blend from Rueda. This wine and others from that area are extremely food friendly. The wine list as a whole was reasonable with a nice selection.

I would most certainly go there again.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I would note that I had been calling Casa Mono for two days to get a reservation. Each time I was told that there were no cancellations, and the earliest reservation was 11:45 pm. We were walk-ins, and were seated immediately at 9:45 pm. I presume that we were eaither lucky because of no-shows, or that for mere mortals a reservation is never available before 11:45 pm, or they tell everyone they're booked to maintain the cache. Given the hot area they're in, Casa Mono would do just fine with a no reservation policy.

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Ironically, we almost didn't go because we didn't have a reservation. Since we were in the area anyway, we decided to check it out and got lucky. They might actually do better without reservations at all.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I had an excellent lunch there with a client on Monday. For some reason, CM is a bit off the radar with the biz lunch scene. Ive never had a problem getting last minute lunch reservations. I had most of the same dishes discussed in the last post. We also ordered a fried manchego app from the prix fixed menu that was out of this world. It came with the best honey I've ever had. I asked the chef where they sourced it from and realized (duh!) they infused it with Safron. Great stuff and a definite must-try.

"Your girlfriend is a vegetarian, tell her she should eat rabbit...they're vegetarians too" Ali

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I had an excellent lunch there with a client on Monday. ...  We also ordered a fried manchego app from the prix fixed menu that was out of this world.  It came with the best honey I've ever had.  I asked the chef where they sourced it from and realized (duh!) they infused it with Safron.  Great stuff and a definite must-try.

Now you tell us! :raz:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  • 5 weeks later...

I had a negative experience w/ service there around when they first opened, fully hyped. It was on a bone-shatteringly cold evening and we got there about 6 minutes before their dinner hour. They wouldn't let us in, didn't even acknowlege us stamping in place on the other side of door. A few other people arrive...two minutes to blast-off....and the hostess still wouldn't relent. About five minutes later they unlocked the door with no apology. It was too cold to start looking for somewhere else to eat, but I really can't deal with that ice-hostess thing and we never went back.

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I'm not defending the hostess, but I've seen this at any number of places. I've seen less hospitable practices, in fact much less hospitable practices. My point would be that this was about a year and a half ago. It hardly seems relevant to a discussion at this point. Do we know if she's still there or if that's current policy?

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Yes, I agree, Bux, it might not be relevant. Hopefully she's long gone! But I mention it because there are a number of other posts here that mention cold or otherwise unpleasant service, and that makes me wonder whether this is typical of the place. I know it's possible to receive worse service, but why put up with less than humane, polite service at any restaurant when we have so many other options in NYC?

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JosephB had complained about less than stellar and indeed rude service when he was there shortly after it opened. When we were there last, in July, the service was superb.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I've been there tyhree times. The first was for lunch and the place was empty. Service was fine. The other two times were in the evening and service was about what I expected from a place that shoehorns too many tables too small to serve the needs of the diners assigned to the tables. I don't recall any particular rudeness. That doesn't mean others weren't treated rudely on that, or other nights.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 1 month later...

My husband & I are arriving into New York on Friday evening. With American Airline flights being the way they have been out of San Juan recently I would rather not have to deal with the posiblity of missing a reservetion, OK, I'll get to the point. We were going to risk a walk in at Casa Mono, if this does not work are there any other great dining experiences in the area that also do walk ins? While I'm here, what about after dinner? Any nice bars to have a few drinks after? In the same kind of area would be a plus, but not a necessity.

Many Thanks in advance.

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My husband & I are arriving into New York on Friday evening.  With American Airline flights being the way they have been out of San Juan recently I would rather not have to deal with the posiblity of missing a reservetion, OK, I'll get to the point.  We were going to risk a walk in at Casa Mono, if this does not work are there any other great dining experiences in the area that also do walk ins?  While I'm here, what about after dinner?  Any nice bars to have a few drinks after?  In the same kind of area would be a plus, but not a necessity.

Tavern Room at Gramercy Tavern is all walk-ins, and the obvious suggestion. 20th between Park and Broadway.

For cocktails, Flatiron Lounge (19th between 5th and 6th); for wine, you're fine staying at Casa Mono.

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  • 2 months later...

Went to Casa Mono last night. Got there early for a 7:30 reservation, and they were very good at parking me in the bar next door until the table and my group were ready. Food was fantastic, especially the sweetbreads -- we ended up ordering them three times. (Total for sweetbreads alone: $48, plus tax and tip. Ouch!) As others have also said, the lamb shank is amazing, and we also had a couple of orders of the fideos -- a small clam pasta dish. We certainly had no problem ordering sequentially rather than all at once at the beginning.

We went for $65-70 wines which were perfectly good but did not quite rise to their price point. But maybe I'm just not a Spanish-wine kind of person. Total for 3-4 people came to $478 before tip: I can definitely think of a lot of other restaurants where we could eat and drink more and better for that kind of money. (There were 3 people at any one time; one person left halfway through to be replaced by another person.)

We weren't rushed at all, and left more than four hours after we arrived. Service was OK. Upshot? A happy, bustling, great vibe, with excellent food -- definitely go there if you're not paying. Wasn't too noisy or too cramped for me, although it was a Monday night.

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