New York Chow-Trip: Day 1
Casa Mono http://www.casamononyc.com/lunch_dinn...
With the driver taking the long route from JFK to our hotel in Manhattan and the rain creating havoc with our effort to hail a cab, we arrived for our lunch date at Casa Mono over 40 minutes late and way past 3.00 pm!!
Upon sitting down, it suddenly dawned on us that our late arrival was a ' God send ', since the restaurant was empty and we have the whole place all to ourselves! Yes!! Imagine an entire Michelin star kitchen dedicated to us alone!!!
Having already familiarized the menu on the internet before our trip, we proceeded to order single and/or multiple quantities of the following
- Bacalao Croquetas with Orange Alioli
- Pulpo ( Octopus ) with Fennel and Grapefruit
- Razor Clams a la Plancha
- Sepia ( Cuttlefish ) with Salsa Verde
- Softshell Crab with Ramps and Espelette
- Lobster and Peas with Gamba reduction
- Sweetbreads with Fennel al Mono
- Foie Gras with Cinco Cebollas
- Grilled Ramps with Romanesco sauce
- Leg of Lamb Cazuela with Moroccan spices and Apricots
- Burnt Vanilla Custard with fried fresh Bay leaf in doughnut dough
With no pressure from a usually busy dining room to contend with, the kitchen can relax and take their time with our order. The result was a most pleasing experience with great, friendly service and amazingly tasty food that was prepared and executed perfectly. These were some of the best tapas I had eaten outside of places like Majorca, San Sebastian, and Barcelona...etc! Wow!
Although every single dish we had has its strong and attractive points, however, to me, the stand-outs has to be the following:
- Razor Clams: Fresh, sweet and chewy tender, the 'Chinese wok-hay' like smokey flavour and aroma generated from the high heat hot grill was absolutely mesmerizing!! Haven't had razor clams that good west of Spain!!
- Bacalao Croquetas: A bite into this crispy shell morsel with light, creamy yet chewy filling bursted open layer upon layer of mouth watering flavour. Talk about addictive!! IMO, the Orange Alioli though delightfully good was a redundant addition.
- Sepia: That Salsa Verde was so delicious, we actually have to ask for more bread to mop them up!
- Foie Gras: OMG! This favourite dish of our friendly Spanish waiter was perfectly seared and covered with a gorgeous sweet glaze. The portion was HUGE!
- grilled Ramps that accompanied the lobster dish was sooo good that we ordered a separate order with Romanesco sauce!
- Lastly, though not a dish, however, the Olive with Anchovies infused Spanish Olive Oil dip was one of the most complex and delicious dip I ever had!
Once in a while, Michelin's Star award to establishments can be highly questionable. However, in the case of Casa Mono, they were spot on! The food we enjoyed was definitely Michelin calibre!!
Thanks to those fellow chowhounders who suggested this place to me!!