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The Brass Monkey review image

The Brass Monkey


401 N Morgan St, Chicago
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The 1970’s seemed like an awesome time. It was a decade that gave us a lot of memorable moments, like the rise to power of Ziploc bags, and the invention of the pocket calculator. Unfortunately, my only experience with the 70’s is a trio of Austin Powers movies. The good news is they are awesome movies. The bad news is - well, no bad news really, other than the fact Austin Powers might have been the last funny movie Mike Myers made.

Here’s where we are going with this - if you’re trying to experience a little bit of the ‘70s, The Brass Monkey is the spot. The decor is excellent. While Austin Powers was meant to be a comedic parody of super spy and all around ladies man James Bond, Brass Monkey is truly a mix of the two iconic men of mystery. The place showcases ‘70s style bright colors, elaborate patterns, and a mirrored ceiling in a cool and creative way.

The concept is seriously seen in the food too, because Brass Monkey boast two very distinct menus - Brasserie, and Hits Of The ‘70s. While the Brasserie menu is more or less standard French cuisine, its counterpart is a particular ode to the past. The Hits Of The ‘70s menu offers things you’d expect to find at a shagadelic dinner party, like baloney sliders, “The Cheese Ball” with Ritz crackers, pork chop with apple sauce, and a TV dinner. But the obvious question is does Brass Monkey manage to make any of this work.

The answer is yes and no, and that goes for items on both menus. The best way for us to put it is the food will leave you satisfied. You won’t be overly impressed, but nothing has left us that disappointed either. The Brasserie is your best bet for quality food, but Hits Of The ‘70s is playful and entertaining enough that we're willing to forgive the fact some dishes probably won't ever be better than ok.

Even though we aren’t comfortable giving rave endorsements on the food, Brass Monkey is a place we like for certain occasions. Along with the decor we are so high on, dim lighting and bumpin music make it a cool place to hang, and we think this little stretch of Hubbard and Morgan just north of Fulton Market will continue to attract more restaurants and bars.

Just be careful if you go to the bathroom - it's like a carnival funhouse room full of too many doors down there. Get turned around and you'll need some serious spy moves to find your way out.

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Food Rundown

Spanish Calamari

Grilled calamari in a roasted tomato sauce with wild boar sausage. The sauce is heavy on the tomatos, but the calamari itself is good.

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Braised Short Rib

A hunk of braised short rib in a red wine reduction with mashed potatoes, kale, onions, and acorn squash. Nothing that jumps out at you, but a solid piece of meat and potatoes. The acorn squash is good too.

Squid Ink Linguini

The pasta itself has good flavor, and we like the large shrimp and scallops that come in it. Together with the not so spicy chili-saffron cream sauce, it's an overall good dish.

White Cheddar Mac & Cheese

If you want a side of mac and cheese, then you should go ahead and order a side of mac and cheese.

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Wild boar meatballs in a grape jelly glaze with roasted grapes. The jelly glaze definitely gives the meatballs a sweet taste. Food in the '70s was weird, but these are weirdly tasty.

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Cheese Fondue

A small container of melted cheese with tater tots and house-made hot dogs for dipping. The hot dogs kind of taste like boloney dogs, and otherwise you're dipping tater tots in cheese.

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Mushroom French Bread Pizza

It's really doughy pizza, but we like the combination of mushrooms, arugula, and truffle mushroom cream sauce.

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Bananas Foster Pudding

Give us all of the Bananas Foster Pudding. Literally, all of it. Banana pie meets bananas foster with this banana pudding, bourbon caramel, and caramelized bananas. Holy moly is this a good dessert.

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