And finally. Night 3. I'd been reading about Casa Mono for forever, and the last several times I went down to NY I didn't call early enough in advance for reservations at a decent time. I learned my lesson this time, and called about a month ahead.
We were immediately seated when we arrived. Menus were presented, a bottle of wine was ordered, olives and bread were set upon the table, and selections were made. We told the waitress to bring out the dishes in whatever order was best.
So, round 1. A plate of jamon serrano. Nothing special here, but we're both big fans of jamon serrano, hence us ordering it. The ensalada al mono with manchego - a frisee salad served with a slightly sweet dressing. Again, nothing overly special, but just elegant simplicity. The soft-shell crab - fried, so good, served with a grilled lemon and some dressed greens.
Round 2: Artichokes a la plancha - grilled artichoke hearts, just good in their simplicity. Sweetbreads, which were lightly fried and served atop some grilled fennel. The sweetbreads were a little too salty for my tastes, but went surprisingly well with the fennel. Cock's combs, which were slightly spicy (I'm not sure what seasoning was used). These had a gelatinous texture and themselves didn't have much flavour of their own. It was an interesting mouthfeel - not unpleasant, just unusual.
And for dessert, the crema catalan, served with bunuelos - but unlike any I'd ever had before. We were instructed to eat them like artichoke leaves, which initially confused us but made sense when we looked at them. Leaves (which reminded me ficus leaves?) were dipped in dough, friend, and sprinkled with sugar. It was an inventive twist. The crema itself was nice and rich, and went well with the bunuelos.
Service was very efficient, and not in a rushed way. Empty plates were cleared to make room, water was refilled promptly, new utensils given as needed.
It was full when we came at 8:30, full when we left at 10:30. A much better date place, or perhaps a place to catch up with a few (like 3) friends max. There just isn't that much room there. I would have liked to have sat at the bar where you could watch the people cook. 6 dishes, a bottle of wine, and dessert for the two of us came to slightly over $100, before tip.