Hope and I try to get out of our eatery comfort zone, whether it be to a new area of town or new style of cuisine. So, our friends who write LEO’s Beer Me! column suggested Monnik Beer Co. and offered to come along for the road show. I hadn’t thought of a brewery for gluten-free, vegetarian food or more than just beer.
I was wrong.
Situated in Schnitzelburg, Monnik has the appetizers and small plates of a wine bar, a well-priced, proper selection of bourbons and a variety of wines, although the bulk of the menu is based around the beer-drinking, German meat-eating crowd.
To Start: I had a classic Manhattan ($10.50), a two fingers-plus pour of Bulleit Rye with just a bit of cherry back to inaugurate a long night of tall tales and imbibing and not in that order. The beer drinkers began their exploration ($5-$8), and Hope had her usual: Prosecco ($7).
The table started with a cheese-only charcuterie and spiced pepita seeds. The fromage plate included smoked Gouda, caramelized onion cheddar, a tasty honey goat cheese and several others, served with stone ground mustard and house-made, salted butter and jam. For those flaunting their gluten tolerance, it included a loaf-size piece of focaccia. The pepitas came in three flavors: natural roasted, sweet and with a hint of a spicy kick (BTW – Spicy Kick was my go-to move in high school wrestling… I was disqualified a lot).
Dipping the honey goat cheese into the pepitas provided a crunchy, sweet, savory bite. The caramelized onion cheddar with a smear of salted butter offered a sweet, smoky taste.
Round Two: To offset the vegetable carnage at our table, the carnivores ordered a bowl of Bitterballen ($10): beef croquettes with a healthy dollop of stone ground mustard. They are softer and less compact than their Italian cousins. We also had a side of seasonal, homemade pickled veggies ($3) — pea pods, red onion and thick-cut carrots.
Main Course: In an attempt to get roughage in me before cheese-induced gout set in, I ordered the Harvest Salad ($9) — mixed greens, blood oranges, purple potato, mixed olives and edamame, accented with fennel and topped with a hard-boiled egg for a little protein with this healthy salad. Everything was fresh and vibrant, with the purple potato standing out in the colorful veggie medley.
For a savory side, I ordered jackfruit ($4). It has the consistency of shredded chicken or pulled pork and is quickly becoming a popular meat substitute.
More Anti-Brewery Drinking Activity: I had a Michter’s American Whiskey ($10) with a large rock.
Hope was excited about the Kalette and Brussels Salad ($9) — fried kalettes, roasted Brussels sprouts, toasted almond slivers, pecorino, garlic, shallots and a Dijon lemon glaze. Hope loves two things in this world: a well-cooked Brussels sprout and a good, underground fight club, although she’ll only talk about one of the two.
For Our Meat Eaters: Whitney ordered the Cuban sandwich ($11) — sliced ham, pulled pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on a hoagie bun. Craig went for the meaty, meat-laden, meat, meat, meatiest item on the menu, the Rouladen ($14) — sliced beef, mustard, onions, bacon, pickles, potato fritters and a red wine sauce.
If someone orders the Rouladen as well as the sauerbraten, the staff brings a courtesy defibrillator to the table.
The Path Not Taken: Several other salads, dishes and sides looked interesting for future visits. We were tempted to get the jackfruit al pastor nachos: eggplant queso, pickled onion, corn pico, pineapple and pepita cheese.
An interesting option for meat eaters might be the pub-style chicken curry house cut fries — mild yellow curry over fries. Think of it as an Indo-Kentuckiana poutine.
Other Bourbon Selections: Ole Fo Statesman and Eagle Rare.
And Our Beer Recommendations: Sauc Monkey, Mild George, Eagle Skull, Path of Totality on draft and Haucks in a can.
Hope’s Wine Recommendations: four glasses of Prosecco drunk at a blistering pace. •
Monnik Beer Co.
1036 E. Burnett Ave.
Noise: The evening hit a high of 95 decibels with an average of 78 with the main area about two-thirds full. I fear other tables clearly heard many of our topics of conversation.
Accessibility: The restrooms are spacious with handrails in the stalls, and the low top tables are accessible.