Red Monkey just opened up in the Crabtree Mall, and with these rainy springs, it’s a perfect time to go check it out. The restaurant is split into 2 levels. The 2nd floor, next to Cheesecake Factory, is a long room with some traditional seating, some awesome booths, and bar seating. The lower level is actually stretched out into the mall with additional tables. All the tables seemed to seat only 2-5 people, maybe 7 people max, and there’s no room in the narrow dining area for pushing tables together. So I don’t think this would be a very good place for large groups.
The decor is pretty original, with red lighting throughout, cushioned booth seating to give privacy and dampen sound, giant fans and brightly colored hanging lamps, and big chandeliers. There’s cool, classy music playing in the background, but it might be difficult to hear because of the noise level. It tends to be on the louder side, though not so loud that you can’t hear people at your own table. We got one of the booth seats with the oversized cushion. It was nice, but the only complaint was the moving table. I understand it probably needs to be movable to help with cleaning, but it shouldn’t slide around so easily.
The menu isn’t huge, just one full page for entrees and one full page for drinks, but it’s got so many interesting entrees. The “Monkey Tails” appetizer didn’t list what kind of meat it actually was, so I thought at first it might actually be monkey. But no, the server said it was basically just chicken nuggets. They weren’t even long chicken nuggets, just round ones. I think they should have named them “Bunny Tails” instead. It was between the Monkey Tails and the Irish Fries for an appetizer, and we ended up going with a small plate of Monkey Tails. For the entree I was really torn between the George’s Burger, Pulled Duck Salad, and the Chicken Roulade, but I decided on the Pulled Duck Salad based on not having eaten duck for a good year or so, and I missed it. My husband ordered the George’s Burger, which was good, because I really wanted a taste. Unfortunately we didn’t know about any hidden child menu, and none was offered to us, so our son just snacked on some food I had in my purse.
The large rice crackers were a unique free appetizer. The hummus had a really good flavor to it, and I liked it quite a bit. It wasn’t spicy, just flavorful. The plate of monkey tails came out soon afterward. They looked just like little chicken nuggets on a plate with dipping sauce. It was kind of odd the waiter didn’t offer us extra plates so each person could have their own, but since we’re family, we just shared the little square plate they came on. The nuggets had some sort of spicy sauce drizzled over them that was pretty good. I tried to give a “dry” one to my 5-year-old, but he wasn’t interested. I loved the honey mustard dipping sauce as well, but I think it would have been better without the horseradish bite. I think the serving size was great; a small plate is a good size for 2 adults to share.
My salad came out in a big, round plate. The duck meat looked a bit sparse. The greens were very good, and went well with the duck. The dressing was a bit overly sour. I think it would have been a better citrus vinaigrette if they would have used sweetened orange juice with the vinegar. I think they used lemon juice and it was too sour. It also needed a bit more oil to balance I think. Some candied, crunchy orange peels would have been really great in the salad… I wish there had been some “crunch” to it. There were also too many dried cranberries in the salad. Even getting 1 or 2 cranberry per forkful, I still ended up with a few dozen in my dish when I was done. I know this sounds pretty critical of the salad. It wasn’t actually that bad! But I think they could use a few changes to it, otherwise I probably wouldn’t get it again.
My husband’s burger looked beautiful. He had asked for it medium, but it really looked well done. No matter, I had a bite, and it was probably the best burger I had ever tasted. He didn’t seem to mind that it was well done either. The apple, bacon and brie went perfectly together. The waffle fries were pretty good too, though not as good as the fries at Tribeca. I think my only issues with this and other pricey burgers are the size. The patty was just too big, and I would have made a mess trying to eat it with my little girly mouth. I would gladly take a smaller patty for the same price. Better yet, take the price down a dollar, and serve a smaller patty. There’s just no reason to make a burger so big it hurts your mouth to open that wide.
Red Monkey seems to be doing pretty well already, both floors were packed as we left. I’m sure the crowds at Crabtree will keep them in business a while. I like the idea that they have a lot of local beers and produce, and with so many interesting entrees, I think they’ll bring people back who want to try something new every time.