Casa Mono: Ugly American Meets Angry Iberian

This is not a restaurant built on love.  Chairs are tightly packed and sparsely padded to prod people in and out the door as fast as possible.  Service is equally unwelcoming.  Not a place designed to produce repeat business.  In short, the cultural illogic of lazy capitalism.    Below are a few lowlights of a recent meal.

1. Pedestrian Pan Con Tomate:  A simple dish but often sublime.  Not on my second visit, where salty and soggy came together in blissless matrimony.  Inferior to that served at Boqueria–simple version–and Tía Pol–deconstructed.  Roughly equal to that served at the Yale Club’s Spanish Night buffet.  The “Monkey House” would be better off serving Monkey Bread.

2. Occam’s Razor Clam: Occam’s proposition states that the simplest explanation is usually the best.  I’d add a seafood corollary: the simplest preparation is usually the best.  That said, it’s fine and good to salt, lube and saute your proteins, but I can get the same taste at Joe’s Shanghai for half the price.  Given that razor clams are the beef cheeks of the sea, I don’t need Ripert prices on this one.

3. Sun Drenched Spanish Wine:  The list is long and deep, and the pours are generous, but after my wine experience with a glass of Monastrell, I doubt I’ll be digging any further.   Monastrell is an amiable grape that generally gets along with everything. Here, however, my glass was served at kitchen temp not room or cave temp.  Overheated alcohol in a literally overheated glass turned this normally friendly food bev into a nasty little throat scratcher.  The wine made me feel like drinking, but it didn’t make me feel like drinking here.  If I return, I’ll stick to beer.

4. Glop Lo Mein: Fideos with mussels and a goopy sauce were a mayo drenched monstrosity.  Rubbery shellfish, glutinous sauce and grease addled noodles were like the worst of 1950s midwestern Chinese food tarted up in Spanish drag. Everything else I ate was diminished by kitchen work; this dish was a disaster from conception forward.

5. Bone Dry Bread Pudding: A beginning baker’s go to recipe is, apparently, not as foolproof as I had thought.  Bland coffee ice cream did little to improve the stale crouton texture and taste.  If you’re in the mood for dessert, hit Otto for stellar gelato and magnificently baroque sundaes; hit yourself on the head for ordering ice cream here.

Conclusions: Nearly every problem I encountered during my two meals was one of execution of dishes not conception.  Perhaps the issue was a simple as who was running the kitchen those days.  Given the rich options available in this City, I can’t say I intend to risk going back to find out.

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3 Responses to “Casa Mono: Ugly American Meets Angry Iberian”

  1. Yorkville Slurper Says:

    So if not Casa Mono, where to go? El quinto pino, Txikito, Boqueria, Tía Pol?

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Had a similar experience. Can’t figure out what has Bruni and the other critics so enamored of this place.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Is the food/wine service any better at Bar Jamon next door? I’ve been tempted to check it out after hitting Pata Negra and Terroir, but it was always too packed and pricey looking for my tastes.

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