We enter the hotel and greeted by reception staff who advise us to head towards the iPad in the far corner of the room. It's a little strange that as soon as we enter the hotel, it opens out into a dining / bar area and there is Monster in all her glory. I keep looking for an iPad but struggle to find it. Turns out, I'm taking things too literally and it's not an iPad but a laptop. I guess literal and creativity aren't necessarily seamless in this place!
We're early for our table so take a seat on a fancy green sofa and wait a while before someone takes our drinks order. And it takes a while again for the drinks to arrive but we're advise it's because they're searching the store room for a mysterious ingredient that is crucial to my cocktails...
We drink our drinks, once they finally arrive and we're not asked if we want another nor is our table followed up...and it ticks past 8pm and when it looks like no one is going to help us or keep us hydrated, I ask and one of the wait staff tries to help us out but we're advised to keep on waiting as the previous occupants finish up.
- 38 hour pork neck bao, cucumber, kim chi
- Crispy fried quail, house made togarashi, kewpie, sriracha
The pork neck is a little cylindrical croquette and combined with the fermented and tangy flavour of the kim chi is pretty tastebud pleasing. The quail is also lipsmackingly good with an exciting tongue tingling heat from the spices and sriracha. So far so good.
And in spite of the service blips, we enjoy our corner seat in the banquette where we can people watch and although the wait staff are stretched, the atmosphere still manages to be relaxed and comfortable.
- Asparagus, baby leek, soft egg, burnt butter, nori and capers
This is a far more generous dish than the asparagus offering we had at Eightysix the night before although, granted it is $5 more expensive but I'd rather pay the excess and enjoy the "generous hospitality." The salty buttery liquid drips and flavours the chargrilled vegetables and balances that greeny yumminess of asparagus.
- Blood pudding, apple, radish. anchovy
- Pulled lamb shoulder, pistachio, yoghurt, vine leaf, pomegranate, brik
- Black Angus, flat iron, chimichurri, fried okra (unpictured)
The blood pudding is a generous slab and served on grilled bread. I enjoy the flavours but find the anchovy a little overpowering. I love anchovies and I love black pudding but I'm not convinced I love them altogether although the toast and the zippiness of the apple and radish salad help lift the heavy flavours.
The pulled lamb shoulder is a true crowd pleaser. The meat is tender and delicious large chunks flaboured with nutty pistachios and sweet and sour pomegranate seeds, softened by the labne.
The Black Angus also goes down well. It's a good steak already carved into misshapes and the fried okra has a delicious salt and vinegar seasoning to it.
We are pretty full after all this food but we enjoy our seats that staying for something sweet is our pleasure! And we choose to share:
It's a light way to finish the meal. The crispy milk are like meringue shards and there's a kind of runny panna cotta thing at the bottom of the dish. It's not the best dessert in the World but it does the job!
Whilst the Monster ain't everything - certainly service wasn't all that, the food was good and the environment and general ambience makes it a good dining option.