Note: The Monday Room closed in March 2012. A cocktail lounge, The Daisy, is set to replace it.
The Monday Room is a wine bar/small-plates room adjoined to the NoLIta restaurant Public. It has its own website and is separately reservable, but you enter through the same door as Public, and the food is prepared in the Public kitchen, by the same chef.
The space was used, at various times, as a gallery, as a retail shop, and as a private dining room. A shade over two years ago, it was converted permanently into a dining/bar room. The AvroKO décor features plush chairs, throw rugs, and dark wood paneling.
It is normally a much quieter space than Public, or so we understand. Unfortunately, a large party who’d had far too much to drink was carrying on in one of the big booths. We thought they should have been asked to leave, but it’s a tough call when a group is too loud, but hasn’t actually broken any rules yet. The staff were clearly getting annoyed, but when we left the party was still there, and had just ordered another round.
Fortunately, the food offered recompense in plenty. This comes as a surprise, as both of our visits to Public (1 2) left us underwhelmed. In fact, I will probably never eat there again, unless someone else insists. But in the Monday Room, chef Brad Farmerie hits one home run after another. If you didn’t know otherwise, you would doubt it was the same guy.
The menu, which changes frequently, consists entirely of small places ($6–19), which you’re encouraged to share. We ordered five of these, which was about right. There wasn’t a dud among them.
Sea Trout ($11.50; above left) was lovely. It came with a “three-slice pile-up” (above right), an order of bread so addictive that it ought to be served on its own.
Dashi Custerd ($9.50; above left) came topped with a salad of lobster, lime and caviar. We ordered two of these, as we were advised that it wasn’t suitable for sharing. Besides, who would want to share such a sublime dish.
Monday Meats ($15; above right) is a recent addition to the menu, including house-cured wild boar, a chicken mousse brûlée, and a chicken liver foie gras terrine, along with the usual accompaniments.
Pan-seared foie gras ($19; above left) was an excellent preparation, with french toast, maple glaze, pineapple chutney, and a slice of crisp bacon. Grilled venison mini-burgers ($7; above right) had a wonderful funky taste that wasn’t at all gamey, along with a tomato chili jam and shallot rings.
The mostly-European wine list offers ample variety by the half-glass, glass, half-bottle, or bottle. We spent $48 total on two half-bottles (one Spanish, the other Italian), enjoying a flexibility not available at most places.
Service was excellent, with fresh serving utensils brought for every course. All of the staff we interacted with were knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the food and the wine. Their ordering advice can be trusted.
We had heard that the Monday Room was better than Public, but we weren’t prepared for just how much better it is. Actually, it is remarkable.
Public (210 Elizabeth St. between Spring St. & Prince St., NoLIta)