I hate to knock down a local favorite (especially one that I generally enjoy), but I had dinner at Monk's last night and was just plain disappointed. From Monk's, I expect awesome beer, and noise, and crowds, and smoke, and occasionally careless service ... but what I don't expect is halfheartedness with respect to the food.
I've never been that impressed by Monk's mussels (I usually find way more "off" mussels in the pot than I do when I cook supermarket mussels at home), but this time it was obvious that nobody had even attempted to clean or debeard them. One of my mussels' beards was attached to a cluster of three or four good sized pebbles and shells, each about a centimeter across. How could you miss that if you took even the most cursory glance at your product?
My partner had a burger, and didn't order fries on the side (we figured the fries from the mussels would be enough to satisfy us). So his burger arrived on one half of an oval plate - the other half was completely empty, save for (literally) four tiny pieces of baby lettuce greens. First there's the issue of fry stinginess, which I can only assume comes from the "Everybody loves Monk's and their fries, so cares if we make them pay extra to get some" attitude. I don't think that's a good perspective for any restaurant to have, even a well-established and popular one, but I guess that's my problem. The second issue is that you simply don't serve diners food on half-empty plates! [Note: Of course, there's an exception for minimialist chic / designy cuisine, but I think everyone can agree that Monk's is not that kind of restaurant]. It literally looked like someone plopped a burger on one side, and forgot to put anything on the other half. When you serve food this way, you're basically screaming to your patrons, "You are getting shafted! There should be more food on this plate!" And that's how I felt.
I apologize for the rant, but it really annoys me when restaurants slack off simply because they know they've got a stable fan base. And for the record, I like Monk's. I like their beer. I just don't like feeling like a cog in a high-turnover moneymaking beer distribution machine. Perhaps it was my mistake for expecting anything more...