Blue Monk – Divine Intervention, or Failed Rapture?

27 May

Allow me to start off by saying that the last time I had set foot into Blue Monk, my band had just finished playing the very last show ever performed while the location was known as “Merlin’s”. Despite remembering Merlin’s as being a place where bands went to binge drink and piss all over the restroom floor, I had high hopes to see how the transformation went.

Walking in the oh-so-familiar door, I was visually greeted with two things: nostalgia… and flannel. Everything was in the same location as before, with the exception of the newly-added kitchen area, and a much needed new set of bathrooms. The bar was nicely lit and featured a gigantic chalkboard with a most impressive beer list jotted down.

The menu is quite impressive, and boasts dishes that are quite unorthodox, but very welcomed to a town that just starting to breakout of it’s former Rust Belt reputation. As I could tell by looking around, a crowd favorite is definitely their fries… but Blue Monk doesn’t serve fries at all. Blue Monk serves duck frites, and they’re damn tasty.

A “duck frite” is a french fry cut potato that is fried in rendered duck fat. The result is a fry that is rich and tasty, with undertones of the gaminess of the duck. To make their frites even more fantastic, they are served with your choice of 2 out of 8 of their very original dipping sauces. The [Chipotle  Bacon Mayonnaise] is simply divine, there’s no other word for it. I also got my hands on some of their [Wasabi Mayonnaise] which made a fantastic condiment for the frites, but reminded me of something that I’d find in a sushi bar.

The dish that I elected to taste was their Poutine. For those who aren’t sure what “poutine” is, grab a passport and hop over the border to the north. “Poutine” is an example of Canadian comfort food. Traditionally, it’s crispy fries and soft cheese curd that’s been smothered in a delicious brown gravy sauce. The end result is a little slice of artery-clogging heaven that’s beyond addictive to chomp on. Blue Monk’s poutine is as different as I have ever seen outside of Canada. The common french fry is replaced with the duck frites and rather than generic brown gravy, they’re drowned in an amazingly silky duck confit. Their cheese curd is spot on, and the portion size is big enough to please a bigger gentleman, such as myself.

The only “problem” that I had with my dish is that it seems if it was over-spiced. While the poutine was amazing the first few bites in, I found myself being overwhelmed by the amount of rosemary and parsley that were incorporated into the confit. It still had a gamey taste, but was left with a moderately bitter aftertaste.

Atmosphere: 4/5          Blue Monk doesn’t come off as a fine-dining establishment, even though the menu suggests otherwise. It’s rather loud and is full of flannel, beards, and over-stretched gauged ears that are typical of a Downtown Buffalo eating establishment. Great lighting, but incredibly cramped tables.
Menu: 5/5          No complaints here. Very upscale ingredients that follow the trend of the Elmwood Village. They have some complex and unorthodox dishes that will make any culinarian or food lover eager to give it a shot.
Beverage Selection: 5/5          If you’re a beer-enthusiast, Blue Monk is at the top of the food chain. Their beer list is massive, and very easy to read and comprehend.
Price: 4/5          They’re not the cheapest restaurant on the strip, and they’re certainly not the most expensive. The portions are big enough to ensure that you’ll more than likely need a doggie bag.
Taste/Quality of Product: 4/5
Staff: 4/5          The waiting staff is very polite, but I can see them being not the most attentive during busy hours.

Overall:          I give Blue Monk a solid B. It’s a decent place to hang out with some friends and knock back a few cold ones, while enjoying a nice list of artisan-type cuisine. I personally wouldn’t say it’s one of my favorite places, but I’ll definitely do business with them again.


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