On New Year's eve, I had two people in from out of town who were heading back to the suburbs and wanted to eat before taking an 8 o'clock train. As it was 5:30 and we were in the Union Square area, I suggested that we go check out Casa Mono.
The restaurant is rather small; the walls are covered with cabinets filled with wine. There is an open kitchen with bar stools in front of it for diners. There are tables too, of course. The restaurant was about half-filled and we were seated immediately.
The water glasses are tucked under the table in little shelves. Immediately, bread and a dish of olives in olive oil are brought to the table. Tap water is oft-refilled.
The menu is organized very roughly into tapas and raciones, though there is no indication of such (just price differentials) along with side dishes.
We ordered drinks: a nice and serviceable temperanillo, a wonderful grenache (subsequently ordered by the rest of the table) and a fruity cava. Wines (though not cava) are served in cuartos which give you about 1.5 glasses each, nice.
To start, we ordered fried anchovies, pumpkin and cheese fritters, and pulpo a la plancha (grilled octopus.) To my disappointment, the fried anchovies were not the entire fish; they were the little filets, and too salty. The fritters were rich, sweet and yummy, and the pulpo, served with grapefruit segments, was toothsome and tasty.
We then had the lamb with preserved lemon, the skirt steak, razor clams a la plancha, and a duck egg with truffled potatoes. I did not eat the egg dish. The razor clams were marvelous and juicy, six to an order. The lamb order consisted of three little lollipop chops. They were juicy and tasty but did not taste of the preserved lemon, which was on the plate (I dipped it.) The skirt steak was quite good wtih its "onion marmalade" and by far the most generously-proportioned of the raciones. We also ordered a nice lemony side of grilled artichokes.
For dessert, one of us ordered a creme brulee (I forget what it was called on the menu, but that's what it was) and I ordered pomegranate in sweet wine, which turned out to be just that, pomegranate seeds in a dish of sweet wine. The taste was refreshing and not overly sweet, but having it once was probably enough for me.
There was an excellent sherry menu, but I declined, having had plenty of alcohol in my dessert!
Service was very attentive. With tax and tip, the meal came to 170. I'd recommend the restaurant; the atmosphere was warm and almost everything I had was very good. The wine list is especially interesting to me, since I love Spanish wines.
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