Duck Egg at Casa MonoOn Saturday Chris and I popped into the city and decided to visit one of my favorite restaurants, Casa Mono. I've been there several times, twice with a friend and once with Chris (this would be our second time together) and I have yet to be disappointed.
It's a small restaurant, with maybe under a dozen tables, two-tops and four-tops, and a bar, that seats about six from where you an watch the chefs prepare the varied assortment of tapas. And that's pretty much all they prepare here, tapas.
The first time I visited I guess about two years ago, I wasn't as adventurous, and we stuck to some basic dishes expanding my repertoire with each subsequent visit, to the point now, where I'm hoping they add some new items to the menu soon but here's what I've enjoyed, favorites first.
- Duck Egg with Mojama - May they never remove this incredible dish that I dream about from the menu. It's sauteed fingerling potatoes (w/ a nice crispy exterior, soft interior), stacked on a plate, interlaced with jamon (Spanish for really good ham akin to prosciutto), topped with an enormous sunny-side up Duck Egg, sprinkled with some shaved black truffle. Heaven on a dish. We like it so much, Chris and I ordered two the first time we visited the restaurant.
- sauteed brussel sprouts (in season, the way they make this side dish is just delish).
- Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Croquettes - a bit on the heavy side but really, really good - would love to learn how to make these for Thanksgiving.
- Fideos with Chorizo and Clams - the Fideos is a pasta, small and thin, think small pieces of angel hair pasta - presented so it looks like a conical inverted birds nest.
- Razor Clams ala Plancha (they were out of these on Saturday - bummer)
- Quail with Figs - Yumm
- Which reminds me I'm pretty sure I also had Guinea Hen there on a previous visit but can't remember the preparation
- Setas with Garlic - sauteed mushrooms - I could just eat a heaping portion of these.
- Pigs' Feet - not what you think. They basically cook the meat off the feet, form it into some sort of patty (square), and fry it. Remember the axiom, everything fried is good and these were no exception.
- Sweetbreads with Fennel al Mono - see previous axiom. Yep, we ate these on Saturday after our waiter said they were the best dish on the menu. I always thought Sweetbreads were brains but apparently they're some sort of gland. They were fried and atop a salad of Fennel and as long as I didn't think about what I was eating, they weren't bad. And now, I can cross something else off my Omnivore 100!
- Mussels with Cava and Chorizo - honestly, I can't remember if I've had these or not but I think I have and I imagine they didn't suck.
- Sardinas Fritas - they were fried and we filleted them ourselves. Good but I had plumper ones in London.
- Calamares Fritos - Come on, it's Fried Calamari - what can be bad?
- Pan con Tomato - think Bruschetta - not bad, but you know, normal.
I'm pretty sure there's more but that's what I remember off the top of my head. There's been nothing that's disappointed me or that I wouldn't order again, so I consider that an excellent recommendation.
As far as drinks, we usually opt for wines but I didn't really note any of these. Of course, they're heavy on the Spanish wines. This past Saturday I had the house Cava and then a rose that our waiter recommended - both hit the mark. Chris opted for a Tempranillo (also waiter recommended) that he wasn't thrilled about - even with the high acid, it was still too much with the food. His second glass, a Grenache, I believe, really hit the spot and I'm sorry we didn't write it down. On a previous visit, we enjoyed a sherry with my favorite Duck Egg dish, which was a revelation.
As I said before though, this is a small place. You can pretty much snag a table or a place at the bar if you arrive for lunch when they open at noon, especially if you're only two people. But other than that, I'd opt for the 30-day out reservation (unfortunately, this feels like it's become the norm at many NYC restaurants). I just made one for my birthday and can't wait!