after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Monsu: A Great Brunch Hiding in Sabrina’s Shadow

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t says: Our friends thought of going to brunch this past Sunday.  And for once, I didn’t push going to Cochon … don’t get me wrong, I still love Cochon, but I think I have gone enough times so that I feel confident that I can go a weekend without it and not feel like I was “missing” something.  This also has to do with a recent menu change – they removed the awesome Elvis French Toast and replaced it with PB&J French Toast, which is good, but not quite as off-the-hook as the original.  The pancakes are still delightful, but no longer come doused in fruit, rather, crushed Oreos, which are good, but is definitely a lot of sugar.  And they removed the hanger steak … so g and I have decided to branch out beyond Cochon for brunch (unbelievable, right?!).

So we originally planned to join our friends n, m, and kp at Cafe Estelle (k and cm are too busy traveling in Spain to come!).  As we drove there we laughed at the crowd in front of Sabrina’s – ha!  Silly people!  Cochon is always line-less.  And there was Monsu across the street!  But wait a sec – there was Monsu across the street!  As soon as g said, “we gotta try that place”, n reasoned, “well, Cafe Estelle will probably have a line, too – maybe we should try it out!”  And shazam!  We were being spontaneous!  g is a spontaneity-junky, so she was totally in.  I dropped off g, n, and kp at Monsu and found a parking spot (m was meeting us there – he had very important doctor stuff to do … I suspect someone had a runny nose or something at the hospital and m wanted an excuse to wear his hospital scrubs to brunch …).

April 2011, 11:30am Sunday, Party of 5. There were a lot of savory items on the menu at Monsu – maybe a French toast and like one other dish for sweet.  At first I was nonplussed (O … M … G … I hate that word – just finished reading a memoir by an author who used it no less than 3 times in 200 pages … drb uses it every now and then, but whenever he uses it, I feel like he’s making fun of it, which is acceptable – it’s such a dumb word).  But then I started eyeing these awesome t-esque dishes.  Gnocchi, lasangna with cocoa, scrapple, and a whole lot more.  Suddenly, I was no longer nonplussed – one might say I was plussed.  Here are some shots of what kp and I ordered and shared.

The scrapple's playing hide-and-seek under some veggies!

The scrapple tasted good and had a nice internal consistency – it just needed more of a crust on the outside.  Other than that it’s some mighty-fine meat!  And the veggies had a nice sweet taste to them.  g still refused to eat much more than a bite (but I love her anyway).

No gnocchi left behind!

The gnocchi were also quite good.  Their texture was how I like my gnocchi: soft but with a bit of bite so you still feel like you’re chewing something (I know gnocchi texture is a very personal thing).  The sauce reminded me a lot of a vodka cream sauce.  I wish there was some kind of vegetal zing in there, like a parsley or a basil or something fresh just to cut through the cream.

The split personality lasagna ... hiding under an egg.

So the lasagna I believe deserves a special mention.  It walked the line between savory and sweet, as there was a bit of cocoa and cinnamon (or at least, we think it was cinnamon) that had to play nicely with the cheese/meat/pasta.  The result was a success!  Topped with an egg, it was the perfect breakfast lasagna.  I’m not so sure I’d eat it for dinner (it’s also on the dinner menu), but for brunch this is probably the best savory-sweet balance outside of pancakes-and-bacon that there is.  Superb job Monsu!  Also, the egg on top reminded me a bit of Modo Mio – it was a good idea then, it is still a good idea now.

g had Eggs Basildict, which is a very peculiar name, but she liked it a lot, claiming that perhaps she “won” with the best dish.  I disagree, firmly believing the lasagna was superior, but I will say that hers had a more vibrant complement of flavors – it just wasn’t as unique as a sweet-savory lasagna.  Sorry – no pics to show you g’s dish – she was too far away for my crappy iPhone camera to reach.

All in all, Monsu was a success for brunch.  There were no lines and plenty of open tables.  It completely boggles my mind that across the street at Sabrina’s, people want to wait for a spot.  Simply put, Sabrina’s food is good (don’t get me wrong – if you put their food in front of me, I’ll eat it), but not worth waiting for.  And now that Monsu is right there, I definitely see no reason to wait (unless you desperately want a cup of cream cheese shoved in your French Toast like Sabrina’s likes to do).  I also see a lot of potential for Monsu for dinner – I feel an FTC meeting coming!

What are the drawbacks?  Well, n did have an omelette that I think she regretted – it wasn’t bad, but I think she felt it was a little dull next to some of the other items on the table.  I sampled a taste of m’s mpanada, which was pretty good – I wonder how he liked the dish in its entirety?  I think one of the big drawbacks was, as I had mentioned earlier, that there really weren’t a lot of sweet on their brunch menu, so if you have a sweet tooth (like me), afterwards, you might still find yourself craving something “more”.  Fortunately n and m had the right idea: Isgro’s is right down the street!

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Written by afterdinnersneeze

5 April 2011 at 2:28pm

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