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Pretty dang yellowIn a word: A restaurant about nothing.

The specs: #0726  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Isthmus, Ruppert Food Blog, Yelp, Brownies and Zucchini, Wisconsin State Journal; listing at Eat Drink Madison; Facebook, Twitter, official web site, Monk's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

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Chris ate the beef and portabella sandwich.
JM ate the nachos.
Marissa ate the turkey-spinach-artichoke on focaccia with a banana margarita.
Nichole ate the black and bleu burger.
We all split an order of monkey fries.
The bill was about $15/person, plus tip.
JM, Marissa and Nichole gave Monk's a B- (see our grading rubric).

The name "Monk's" for a sports bar would seem to be trying to convey a monkey theme, but in actuality Monk's was very coffee-klatsch themed as the median age of the diners was north of 55 on the night we went. Fortunately, we didn't have to wait 22 minutes for a table just to skip dinner and run off to our bad movie.

We started with the monkey fries, which were thin, batter-coated with real shredded cheddar and bacon. They were tasty and came with a nice ranch sauce but probably didn't remain interesting to the last bite. You could debate whether monkey fries, by themselves, constitute an entire meal or just a starter like, say, soup (and you could save the meal for later), but we wouldn't.

Cheese and bacon fries

Turning to the menu - it was sportily themed but with a twist: apps were presented on a football-adorned page, burgers with hockey, sandwiches with Bucky. An interesting note: the Bucky burger includes jalapeños, chipotle mayo, corn salsa, Monterey Jack and avocado on a Kaiser roll which was majorly Southwestern for a Bucky thing. No burger for you!

Turkey sandwichBeef & portabella sandwich

Marissa's turkey-spinach-artichoke sandwich on focaccia was coated in some sort of redness - tomato paste? paprika? the light from a chicken roaster's sign? We couldn't tell. As a sandwich it was very lively. Chris' sandwich really had no flavor though the above-average brown mustard helped, which you might expect at this proximity to the famous museum.

NachosBlack & bleu burger

JM continued his brief tradition of nachos as a meal. These were huge: tricolor corn chips, ground beef, onion, tomato, jalapeños and the half of it went home. But nachos are little like a big salad: hard to screw up regardless of who hands you the food.

Nichole's black and bleu burger was ordered medium rare and came out medium. The bread was untoasted, yada yada yada, runny dressing.

Marissa took one for the team and ordered the banana margarita to see if it was indeed a place for Monkey News. It was merely a glow-in-the-dark yellow and not that delicious.

So Monk's is not our Dream Cafe. We had to run to catch a movie and didn't get to sample the fat content of their frozen desserts and we probably would have refused a slice of pie had it been offered anyway.  So we guess you'll be seeing us at Reggie's instead.


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I'm in love with your Seinfeld references.

Having been back several times, I will upgrade my grade to a B bordering on B+. The one time I got a burger it too was Medium instead of Medium Rare so I wouldn't get a burger.

The Greek Chicken Sandwich, however, is REALLY good, and if you upgrade your side to Monkey Fries with it, you get the perfect portion for the ratio of cheese, bacon, ranch and fries. And they have Flourless Chocolate Torte. I LOVE Flourless Chocolate Torte.

Still...steer clear of that Margarita though.

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Listen to The Corner Table podcast "Remembering Restaurants," aired December 24, 2020, where Chris and Lindsay talk with us "about the menus and memories left behind when restaurants go away."

Madison Food coverInfo about our book Madison Food: A History of Capital Cuisine is here, or read it for free thanks to the library - print & ebook.



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