I had a chance to stop by the Monk Beer Abbey, located in Royal Oak, where the former Cafe Habana took residence. The concept integrates with the rest of the Bastone complex, and provides a fun approach to bar life.
Chef Robert Young developed the menu based upon a framework of Moulles (Prince Edward Island black mussels), Burgers (made from Belgian Blue beef), Gaufres (a very unique take on a sandwich, using a waffle as the breading).
There is a nice variety of mussles, from a bloody mary inspired spiced tomato broth with Lobster and tomato, to a earthy wild mushroom, garlic, herbs and cream. Our suggestion is try a few, and Monk let’s that happen with their trio sampler.
The burgers are all 8oz patties, hand formed, served with iceberg lettuce and heirloom tomatoes. But, Monk just doesn’t offer the ‘standard’ toppings. Options include one with hollandaise, Black Forest ham and a poached egg, another with BBQ pork belly, five-year cheddar and coleslaw, and a Foie gras variety with herbed goat cheese, pancetta and marinated tomato. Chef Young also developed a vegetarian burger option with a housemade black bean and quinoa patty, with roasted bell peppers, avocado, and havarti dill cheese.
When I first heard that Monk was making sandwiches using waffles, we were a bit puzzled. Waffles and chicken, waffles and syrup, sure…but sandwiches? Well, it turned out great, as far as I’m concerned. And the four variations are thoughtful and fun. Pork belly with cherry BBQ, apple slaw, on an apple waffle. Braised endive, spiced tomato sauce, pickled vegetable slaw on a fennel waffle. Pulled chicken, apple, walnuts, red onion, garlic aioli, on a chive and onion waffle. Lobster, arugula, hazelnut vinaigrette, havarti dill cheese, on a herb waffle.
Monk also offers some sides that you might not want to share with your friends. Like the Graisse de Canard Frites (hand cut Pomme frites fried in duck fat), or a beer cheese soup made with Dubbel Vision ale, Edam cheese, with sourdough croutons.
I like that Monk keeps a later hour than other places, with the kitchen generally closing between 11 or midnight, depending on the day. The space (redone from the Cafe Habana days) can become a bit cramped during high volume hours, but otherwise the tables (or a seats at the counter-top) are comfortable and allow for decent viewing of one or two of the mounted T.V.’s (so you can watch the game).
One last thing about Monk that I’m happy to see…the chicken wings, the burger meat, the pork belly…it all comes from the Fairway Packing Company. You can learn a little bit about them from our previous post here.