I’m always wary of part two’s, especially if I am dearly in love with part one. Will it live up to its predecessor? Will it continue to hold my attention? Will it be same-same but also different? Sigh…the suspense can wreak havoc with my system. Who’s not worried about Ben Affleck reprising Cristian Bale’s role as the Dark Knight?? (Oh wait, we’re not having that conversation). Let’s rewind to ‘the suspense can wreak havoc with my system’ and apply the feeling to the opening of the new Monkey Bar in Indiranagar. Overreacting? Hell no! Let’s get down to business shall we… monkey business!
I went for their launch party where they gave us hard hats with the Monkey Bar logo on it *clap clap*. Then I went again and again and again, till finally, after a month of its opening, I can find my bearings and be objective about it. I’ve heard people gushing that ‘two’s better than one’ and ‘more the merrier’ but unless you’re in a fantasy playing in your own head with identical twins, I’ve always doubted it could be that good in real life. So what’s new, what’s old and what’s same-same about the new contender for the post of ‘my favorite bar in town?
Location: The New Monkey is situated in the mecca of all chic hang-abouts (patent – FPD) in town – 12th Main Indiranagar. The Old Monkey was located in equally chic Wood Street in the center of town. NM – 1; OM – 1
Space: The New Monkey has a lot more space to monkey around. When the party gets started, New Monkey can accommodate more crazies than old Monkey. With a mezzanine floor that partly overlooks the floor below, people watching got a lot more fun. (IF, I can manage to climb up the spiral stairway without falling on my face when I’m five maanga’s down!). Oh wait, the old monkey had a basement – that counts as space, right? NM – 1; OM – 0.
Decor: New Monkey and Old Monkey seem to share the same taste for exposed brick walls, lots of natural light, rustic tables, old scooters, cool posters and blackboard art. New Monkey has a Game of Thrones poster that I want to steal. Old Monkey has a poster of Gollum I want to steal. NM – 1, OM – 1.
Game On: New Monkey and Old Monkey apparently love to play Foosball and Pool. Who would have thunk? I personally play drinking games and would love for both to set up a Beer Pong table. NM – 1, OM – 1.
Parking: New Monkey has someone to come park your car for you. Old Monkey didn’t care if I left my car in the middle of the road to be towed away by cops. Or worse, to be yelled at by the old lady in the parallel road for parking an inch into her driveway. NM – 1, OM – 0.
Staff: Old Monkey wins, hands down. I know those guys by first name for chrissake! Plus their crowd handling and shot pushing skills are epic. New Monkey, maybe in six months, darling. NM – 0, OM – 1.
First Love Bias: Ahem…Old Monkey gets this. We’ve been tight for over a year. Old Monkey feels like Old Bangalore! Ok, I know that’s unfair BUT that’s why it’s called a bias! Kapish? NM – 0, OM – 1.
Food and Drink: I’ve tried almost the whole menu at Old Monkey and pretty much the hot new stuff at New Monkey. So I’ll give you glimpse of the new menu, cause I know this will take forever otherwise. Deal?
Ok, I cheated and got a Maanga. Sue me. But they have a choice of Absolut or Grey Goose with it in NM. So it’s kinda new but same-same. If you got more money and have a taste for the finer things in life and all that jazz, go ahead and order the expensive liquor.
I ordered the Ginger Rogers, because of what it was served in. (Yes, I’m shallow like that). A coconut shaped ceramic pot held a refreshing concoction of Gin, ginger Ale and peach syrup. With my new found love for gin (is that an upgrade from Vodka or a downgrade?), I found this drink perfect for a sunny afternoon. My sister, the teetotaler (yes, I know it’s an abomination, but we love her nevertheless) ordered for a Virgin Mojito. The new offerings include a Red Riding Wood – Vodka, Fresh Plum, Passion fruit, apple juice and Wild Leaf– Vodka, Lime Leaves, Passion Fruit and fresh orange. I’ve also heard horror stories of a drink called the Seven Kingdoms (apparently slated to be the mother of all Long Island Teas) – if someone has been brave enough to try it, I want all the juicy deets. Thanks much.
I only ordered the Veg and Cheese Wantons for you guys – the vegetarian readers of my blog. (Sometimes I wonder if there are any? :P). It was way better than the rest of the sorry excuses for veg-wantons you guys get in Chindian or Indinese restuarants in town. So yes, please order it the next time you’re here.
The one that caught my fancy however, was the Crab Rangoon. Chinatown in New York had me on my knees for these babies and I don’t know anyone else in Bangalore who makes them. So imagine my unbridled joy at biting into a perfect little parcel of crabmeat and cream cheese with scallions. (This was at the launch). I remember asking someone how they can afford to serve so much crab meat (even if it was imitation crab meat), for such a reasonable price? Unfortunately, every single time I’ve gone back, the crab meat has been waning like the moon and being replaced by more of the cream cheese. So I’ll still order it, but maybe just after the new moon when the crabs are their fullest 😛
I saw the Goan Chorizo Pao and could think no further. First of all, I love the pao that Monkey Bar freshly bakes. And secondly, the tangy-earthy-spicy chourico has been on my lust list ever since I was introduced to it a decade ago. This version was light on the use of goan vinegar but extremely tasty nevertheless. The pao is slightly larger than my small palms, so if you are not dining alone, you may want to preempt the mad scramble for it and just order two.
For the sake of avoiding long explanations, let’s just call the Pierogi the Polish version of a pan-fried momo. The Chicken, jalepeno and celery one trumped the pork-mince Pierogi. I was as amazed as any honest pork lover! They generally serve the Pierogi with a sour cream dip which I found to be a rather dull accompaniment. So we decided to tread where angels…*choke, gasp, splutter, maanga , water, gasp, gasp, tears, holy-***king-crap, kill me, water, water, aaaah*. Yes, I had the Death Sauce with it! Why? Because i’m at monkey and somehow all semblance of normal behavior leaves me after a while!
At some point I remember one of us considering the Gastro Burger and the Seafood Sliders, (both of which are exceptional by the way – I’ve tried them on an earlier occasion) but today we had a rather porky bent of mind and settled for the BBQ shredded Pork Sloppy Joe and the Pork Belly Sliders. The Pork belly at LikeThatOnly was probably my husband’s one true love. Now that LTO has downed its shutters, I have reclaimed that position. Oh wait, there’s still football…Drat! So I ordered this one to test its capacity for destruction. Succulent twice cooked Pork Belly, crispy and soft at the same time – served with grilled scallions, basil and chilli mayo. The Asian twist to the Pork belly is the only way I like it and basil provides the hint of freshness that tricks you into forgetting that you are essentially eating layers of pure fat. This one is a killer!
Who remembers the Sloppy Joe from Casa Piccola? Well this one, apart from being sloppy, has no semblance to the ham and cheese version of days gone by. Instead, what you get is a grown up version of BBQ flavored shredded pork served with coleslaw, fresh jalapenos, onions, peppers and lettuce. All of this trying desperately to contain themselves in a brioche bun! They served this with sweet potato crisps with celery salt (how fancy!). A mess to eat, but boy, did I enjoy licking my fingers after this meal! A very small grouse – lose the sweet potato crisps and give me some sweet potato chips! I know it’s a calorie bomb, but it’s my waistline at risk and I’m down with that.
I never have time to eat desserts at Monkey. We come, we eat, we drink, we sing (off-key) to the DJ’s songs and suddenly it’s time to leave. Then someone gets the bright idea to order shots and it’s all downhill from there. Complicated much. Luckily for me, and you – it was in the middle of the afternoon so I resolved to avoid the shots and order dessert instead.
If you ever thought a Lemon Cake was the most prosaic sounding thing on the menu, think again! Vanilla lemon syrup soaked pound cake topped with lemon curd served with seasonal fruit. In my case, because this is May and because the EU went bonkers and rejected them – I was served Alphonso Mangoes with it. DIVINE. My sisters and I literally stabbed each other with a fork to get to the last bite. I’ve now ordered it a couple a times since the last visit and it’s been holding New Monkey’s flag pretty high.
Now the Chocolate Pot De Crème with Salted Caramel, sounds anything but prosaic. It comes in a jar with a lid, which makes the experience of eating it all the more fun. More fun because I can shut the lid whenever I don’t feeling like sharing (the lemon cake needs one!). Gooey, rich Chocolate Mousse and salted caramel topped with caramel popcorn. The mousse is luscious but what elevates it, is the friggin popcorn! How they managed to get the caramel so damn right is beyond me. (Please tell the pastry chef I’ll buy the movie tickets, if he/she gets me a bucket of that amazing caramel popcorn!).
Scores for Food and Drink? Old Monkey consistently delivers and it was one of the pioneers of making the commonplace cool. (Bheja Fry, Dabeli, Pandi Curry- Love.) New Monkey uses Old Monkey as a platform and adds more funky stuff, but still needs to be consistent with their output. But…New Monkey has the Lemon Cake. So NM – 1, OM – 1.
Go ahead tabulate the scores now. Yup, stumped me too. No, seriously – I double checked. Really, I triple checked! NM – 6, OM – 6. It’s a tie! (No, I didn’t engineer this. And No, I’m not secretly working for Monkey Bar :P).
So guess I’ll have to finally concede defeat and agree that two’s better than one in real life as well. But you know what really rocks my boat – a Trilogy. Where’s the next Monkey? 😀
12thMain, (Diagonally opp. Apple of My I),
Ph: +91 80 44114455
Parking: Valet available
Cost: Rs.1800/- ++ for a meal for two