The Monday Room
This new bar is proving to be among the best.
A rare find
Take the work of a 19th century explorer, add a dash of 20th century gentlemen's club and shake well. Pour into an 1877 heritage building and the result is The Monday Room, a concoction created by the owners of former Manchester St haunts 205 and Le Plonk, best served with good company.
We entered the bar through the Moorhouse Ave door on a Thursday night, skirted around the encyclopaedia-clad bar, and were directed to the last table available.
Perched on a soft bench seat in the bar's outdoor area, our party of two was entertained by a young hens' group and a few wary blokes, whose quiet drink had been disturbed. It was warm in the enclosed outdoor seating area, where an open fire beckoned and a nearby corner later became the possie for a musician and his guitar.
A passionate waitress, full of smiles and helpful advice, soon joined us. She explained the colourful bird drawings on our menus were inspired by the drawings of a German botanist of centuries past.
The 19th century theme is carried through the décor of The Monday Room, with light bulbs chosen for their long filaments and bell jars that tastefully showcase flickering iPads, rather than taxidermy.
We were craving cocktails and our wishes were granted with intoxicating finesse. From a three-page list of decadent drinks, ranging from a Marmalade Rum Sour to a Stolen Zombie ($12 to $18), we chose a Kiwi and Ginger Caiprioska and a Feijoa Cooler. High hopes rest on a cocktail and, in this case, we were impressed. The feijoa drink was strong in both vodka and taste - with manuka honey making its presence known on each fruity sip - while the caiprioska, with its zesty bite, was deemed authentic.
To offset the alcohol, we turned to the tapas and yakitori menus. Our favourite bites, which came heartily recommended by staff, were the goat's cheese and roasted capsicum risotto balls (two for $12) and the butter corn spring roll with cream cheese and truffle aioli ($6.50). Our yakitori selection of seven chicken skewers with seven different sauces ($20) was nicely cooked, but less exciting than expected.
As the night wore on, a male mate joined the crew, so a Moa Five Hop ale ($13) graced the table, and another cocktail was ordered. Cucumber dominated this martini, but a sneaky taste of a King of Snake (ginger and lemon juices, shaken with chilli-infused vodka and Cointreau) at the bar confirmed our regard for the cocktail list. Cocktail orders flowing in from other tables kept the bar staff busy all night.
We sorely missed our waitress when she signed off duty, and we probably should have been more proactive in ordering from the bar to keep the momentum flowing. However, there was very little to criticise at this establishment, where kooky meets curious, the drinks pack a punch, and converts can return the next day for breakfast or lunch.
Where: Cnr Moorhouse Ave and Madras St.
Prices: Could easily spend a little, or a lot.
Ambience: Very similar to 205; welcoming and eclectic.
Service: Refreshingly enthusiastic.