So I headed over to The Funky Monkey last weekend. I really really wanted to like this restaurant for a variety of reasons. Number one: it’s close to my house. Number two: it’s described as a “neighborhood wine bar”. Lastly and most obviously, I love the idea of fun and exciting restaurants opening their doors in Orlando.
Here’s the deal. You guys know that I’m not keen on reporting to many negative things about restaurants on this blog. I go to many eateries that I never discuss on here, some good, some bad. Some really, really bad. But over all this is supposed to be a fun thing for me, and I’m not interested in wasting my time and energy on bad experiences (I just usually give them a quick plug on Chow.com). But, in the interest of fairness, and because readers voted for me to go here, I’m going to give you an honest account of my experience at Funky Monkey.
We choose to do salads and apps to get a variety and not spend too terribly much money.
To start, here are the positives:
The Ambiance: Very hip and comfortable with fun artifacts wherever you look. (One warning though, if you’re a bit on the claustrophobic side, it is very small and crowded.)
The Wine List: Interesting and varied with a good selection of price points. Trust me, I’m very happy to get a decent bottle of wine in a restaurant for $15 (Blue Monkey Zinfandel).
The Edamame: An on the house beginning to the meal. Unlike the usual, this edamame was tossed with lime juice and chopped garlic to bring this treat to a whole new level. I’ll never eat the traditional salted variety the same way again.
The Blue Monkey Salad: I watched in envy as my dinner companion ate this salad. I’m not kidding, there was lots of ohhing and ahhing coming from across the table. The mixed greens, blue cheese and mushrooms were covered with an absolutely delicious blueberry ginger vinaigrette. I managed to get one of the last bites, but only after promising that I would go undercover as a line cook just to get the recipe.
The Shrimp and Scallop Dumplings: Fresh and quite tasty with a tangy soy-ginger-lime sauce.
Orlando Brewing Co on Tap: I’m not the biggest fan of the beer, but kudos for keeping it local.
And here are the negatives:
The Parking: A major issue. Located on Mills Ave. in the ViMi district, I have no idea how they are going to rectify this situation. We ended up parking in the neighborhood behind the restaurant and cutting through a gas station to get to the entrance. A sign on the door recommends customers parking across the street in a bank parking lot and then crossing Mills. There is also limited street parking in the area.
The Red Monkey Salad: Iceberg lettuce, canned corn, processed shredded cheese and a tasteless dressing. Enough said.
The Crabcake: And when I say The crabcake, I’m not kidding. One single crabcake. Served on iceberg lettuce. For ten dollars. Enough said.
Identity Crisis: The Funky Monkey is simply trying to be too many things at once. Is it a sophisticated eatery or a “funky” eatery? What's with the fantastic wine list with good prices yet the over priced food? I understand trying to keep food costs low, but you could have at least roasted the corn in my salad. I overheard the manager telling another table that Chef Penelope Brown used to head up Amuras. The Asian influence was prevalent, and quite honestly, the best part of our meal. I would love to see them focus more on the Asian fusion to help sort out this crisis.
Will I go back? Maybe, probably. I'm interested in trying the Bison Burger and waiting to see if they wrinkle out the kinks of a new establishment.
Sorry, there are no pictures due to technical difficulties.