Last night, my family were graciously invited to be the guinea pigs for the kinks to be worked out at Casa Mono. Casa Mono is Mario Batali's newest venture. The restaurant is located on 17th and Irving. The food is Spanish tapas. The concept being that you can order a variety of tapa sized portions and pair them with different wines by the glass.
The recommendation was to begin with some small appetizers such as toasted bread with tomato and garlic lathered on, pumpkin goat cheese croquettes, fried calamari and also veal croquettes with an orange sauce and fried anchovies. We drank a classic white wine from Spain. Next, we went to the fish course. We had scallops (still in their shells) with chorizo and herbs, octopus braised over grapefruit and sliced fennel, and huge grilled prawns. The next course was meat. Sliced hanger steak with carmelized onions over the top and underneath this was a cumin spicy confit of onions. We also had lamb chops with lemon rinds and a plate of serrano ham and braised duck. Desserts were a delicious flan, a prune armengac ice cream and fried dough that was wrapped around the leaves of some type of plant. When you ate off the dough (which was tremendous), the combo with the leaves was almost drug like. The shot of spice up your nose and into your sinus passages was like eating a big scoop of wasabi.
I can't remember all the different wines but the woman who waited on us was right on the mark for pairing the wines.
Mario has another success on his hands, for sure! He based Caso Mono on his favorite restaurant in Barcellona. The food was delicious, different, and fun last night. The portions are perfect. Not too much, not too little. Should be open in a few weeks....keep you ears open and make sure you make an effort to go. Yum!!