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MonkeyNuts is one of those places I keep going back to but I’m not sure why. Isabelle loves it but then she loves anywhere that gives out crayons when you first sit down and always sets about scribbling earnestly on the children’s menu.
In terms of ambience, I don’t really know what it’s trying to be. Is it a children’s restaurant or a chilled out place with some really interesting tour posters on the walls? It is primarily a steak house I think and they do these well.
Not so good things are the size of portions of the dishes that are not steaks or burgers. I ordered some fish cakes a couple of visits ago and got one medium sized fishcake with some salad. One? I ask you.
Another time I had the chicken Kiev and it was small and unremarkable. Not horrid though, just boring. This time I had the fish and chips.
I don’t know what sort of fish it was, presumably something sustainable, but it was horrible. Really fishy smelling with overly cooked batter. Nanny Cupcake had a chicken schnitzel burger but the crumb coating was verging on burnt and the chicken tough and chewy. Isabelle had a bowl of fries as she eschews most food and pronounced them delicious.
Our drinks arrived and we very quickly had to order another juice for Isabelle. The drink doesn’t come so we order it again and when it turns up, it’s not what we ordered but hey, it doesn’t really matter that much. Isabelle also likes the plastic monkeys you get with the drink and likes to have at least two per sitting so she can bounce them round the table as we eat.
If you’re lucky enough to get a table at the front of the restaurant, facing the street, it’s actually very pleasant.
If you have to eat in the refectory style seating at the back, it is eyeball wobblingly, teeth chatteringly bad. For me, anyway. We are seated under an impossibly tinny sounding speaker with some blues music belting out at a volume that grates like a cinder under a door. Loud children, bad acoustics, hard wooden tables and chairs make it a very uncomfortable dining experience. The noise just ricochets round the room and Isabelle, fresh from an ear infection, declares her ears “don’t understand Mummy”. I don’t think she can hear herself think.
The staff are always pleasant, particularly the manager (I presume he’s the manager, he’s always there at front of house) and I would like to say it’s a great place to go. But I’ve been too many times now and had an expensive mediocre meal and left the dining room feeling shredded. Maybe it’s better to go in the evening without children and drink copious amounts so the clanging din doesn’t really matter anymore. Not sure if I'm prepared to find out.
I've just had a very pleasant brunch in MonkeyNuts! I told you I always go back and today I'm happy that I did. I had a bubble and squeak benedict with two poached eggs, some crispy bacon and a huge slick of creamy hollandaise with herbs over a pleasing pile of vegetable filled bubble and squeak. The Albanian had a MonkeyNuts brunch breakfast which was a traditional fry up in good quantities. Isabelle had a giant chocolate muffin (a bargain at £1 today) and a bowl of fries - she's a classy little chick.
We had hoped to go to Banners for breakfast but we forgot to book so no chance there but with the sun streaming through the windows and Beck playing at a reasonable volume, it had a very cool vibe. Only in Crouch End do you have to book for breakfast.
We were also able to witness the delightful Megan from a table further down from us demonstrating how to be a very loud chicken, complete with flappy wings and a high-pitched squawk.
"Remember to use your inside voice darling" her mother pleaded.
"What's an inside voice Mummy?" enquired Isabelle.
"A mother's way of saying shut the f*uk up" the Albanian muttered into his sausage.