The Brass Monkey, located at 401 N. Morgan Street, opened last week, becoming the newest addition to Chicago’s Fulton Market district. Owner and creator Marc Bushala (Untitled Supper Club) has developed a retro-chic yet casual restaurant, drawing inspiration from 1970s design, pop culture, music and food. From refined brasserie dishes to contemporary riffs on ‘70s comfort food, the restaurant pays homage to the indulgent and idiosyncratic ethos of the period.
Pulling inspiration from Julia Child and her iconic food from the ‘70s, the menu offers a contemporary take on classic brasserie fare, as well as some ‘elevated’ dishes from the era. “It is eclectic and ‘Childish,’” says Bushala. "The dishes are fun, delicious and familiar to anyone who grew up in that era,” explains Chef Kendal Duque.
“The Brasserie” menu highlights include Grilled Spanish Calamari stuffed with wild boar sausage, a squid ink pasta with crab, shrimp and scallops, Organic Steak Frites, Seared Duck Breast and house made Fois Gras served with seasonal accompaniments. A separate menu, showcasing traditional American dishes, or “Hits of the ‘70s,” include Sloppy Joe Sliders made with BBQ lamb shoulder and fried onions, house-made Fish Stix, a selection of gourmet French Pizza Breads like the Winter Vegetable and Truffle Mushroom, and a ‘TV Dinner’ served on an iconic four-part tray filled with Salisbury Steak with a cabernet-mushroom reduction, with a side of mashed potatoes, peas and creamed corn.
Even the drink menu sniffs of the ‘70s, with specialty cocktails that include a “Tang” styled concoction and a contemporary take on the Harvey Wallbanger. Although I wasn't alive in the 70s, I can appreciate some kitschy cool decor and some good old fashioned American cooking with a modern twist! So I came by here last night for some dinner after work because I had heard so many good things. The space is beautiful. It's large and spacious, perfect for the growing neighborhood. It even has a separate event space for people who want to host weddings, birthdays, etc there.
So now to the good stuff. I started with the SoCal 75 cocktail, which was served in a champagne glass. It had Brandy, Drambuie, and Cava and was totally balanced with bitters so it wasn't too sweet. The whole cocktail list looked great to be honest. And thanks to Katie who was practicing the new drinks. She did a great job for her first time making the SoCal 75!
For food, I went straight to the main dish of squid ink linguini for $26. I wish I could have seen the 70s menu but I didn't see that until the end of my meal. No big deal though, the squid ink linguini brought me back to Barcelona, Spain. It had a delectable chili saffron cream sauce with scallops, shrimp, crab, and sundried tomatoes. It was a hearty serving and I ate all of it up in between chats with Jackie (another bartender) and Michael (the beverage director who shares a love of Bourbon with me).
The bar selection is extensive. They have a lovely wine list from which I ordered a Cabernet Sauvignon to pair with my pasta dish.
Then I saw the 70s menu. Meatballs, TV dinner, fish sticks, pork chop & applesauce! I was told to order the pork chop next time and that's definitely what I'm going to do. I was able to try the pot de creme for dessert. It was a rich smooth custard with that bruleed caramelized top covering some raspberries. And the biscotti served with it was a perfect touch. Everything was delicious. I can't wait to go back!
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