Newly named restaurant in Hotel Hotel, Monster Kitchen and Bar, recently opened its full fledged restaurant. My first visit here was back in March before a name was given to the hotel’s bar and lounge area.

You may know that Hotel Hotel recently got voted Best Boutique Hotel in Australia by Gourmet Traveller in its 2014 Australian Hotel Guide and also made the cover!

There’s wit in the packaging, personality in the art and furnishings, a refreshing absence of collateral in the rooms and just a hint of the scent of popcorn wafting in the air from the adjoining arthouse cinema.

Located in the Nishi building in New Acton, climb up the impressive wooden staircase and take in the beautiful timber decor.

Monster Kitchen and Bar is located at the top of the stairs in a spacious and warmly lit area.

I have to agree that there’s definitely a lot of personality at Monster. I love the beautiful multi-coloured patchwork wooden tables and can tell that much thought has gone into its design. Not typically right angled, tables are shaped in a unique way allowing several people to sit communal style while still having their own space and privacy.

The bar boasts a large coffee machine using A. Baker fair trade coffee.

The kitchen lies to the side of the restaurant where you can peek in at the chefs.

I liked the unique small clay-like bowls that hold salt flakes on each table.

I was warmly greeted and shown to my table by the restaurant’s hostess. From then on, I was taken care of by a very knowledgeable and friendly waitress. A list of drinks was provided in this beautiful leather bound menu.

I ordered the rose, western Indian orange bitters and soda ($5) to start off with. This exotic alternative version to the lemon, lime and bitter had a dominant flavour of rose and deeper kind of bitters. Not bad.

The ‘Monster’ – she is beautiful and terrifying at the same time like nature itself.

The bar menu is available from 12pm to 1am and the shared plates menu is available from 12pm to 10pm. A couple of friends and I decided to share some plates.

We started off with the bar menu ordering the 38 hour pork neck bao with cucumber kimchi ($18) that came in a serve of 2. A crumbed and deep fried crunchy outer layer encompassed the soft tender chunks of pork neck. The kimchi gave a hit of spiciness and zing. The bao itself was soft and I wonder whether they were made in house? I really enjoyed this dish.

Plenty of soft pork neck stuffed inside. Yum!

To be healthy, we ordered the broccoli, Ortiz anchovy, chilli, lemon and pine nuts ($19). This was the first item on the shared plates menu to arrive. We were absolutely starving as there was a little bit of a wait after the pork neck bao and the broccoli was gone within seconds. Cooked lightly in oil, this was a very light dish with subtle flavours of lemon and chilli. The toasted pine nuts were a nice touch and provided a crunchy element to the dish. I’ll have to remember that when I next cook with broccoli.

The slow cooked pork cheek, caramelised onion, kale and kohlrabi ($26) came out next. I didn’t realise how fatty pork cheek was, it reminded me of pork belly. The dish also came with a few pieces of pork crackling which were crunchy and full of flavour. The kale had been thoroughly dried (dehydrated perhaps) and I couldn’t really taste it, so I didn’t think it added much value.

A shot of the pork cheek from the other side.

I liked the Goulburn Murray cod ($26) with oyster cream, sea lettuce, celery and dashi. Wishing there was more of it! Three pieces of cod were provided which had a crispy outside but tender flesh inside. The dashi stock mixed with oyster cream lifted the natural flavours of the fish making this a warm treat for me. The sea lettuce gave a different rubbery texture to the dish similar to seaweed. I thought the celery leaves left a nice freshness and slight peppery taste on my palate.

I had already picked out my dessert before the mains but wanted to ask the waitress about the four desserts available anyway. Although not my first choice, she sold me with the dark chocolate mousse, lemon, olive oil and hazelnut ($14). An extremely smooth dark chocolate mousse dome lies on the plate with smashed pieces of dehydrated lemon meringue giving a strong zesty tartness to balance out the chocolate. The olive oil shavings and hazelnut pieces played supporting roles in this dessert as the more subtle flavours. I wouldn’t trying the mandarin souffle with chocolate sorbet next time (my first choice) mmm…

I thought the service at Monster was excellent and we were very well taken care of from asking our waitress all sorts of questions about the menu and food to the attentive refills of our drinks and tap water. There was a little chatter in the background but I could easily talk to my dining companions without raising my voice (note it was a weeknight).

I recommend walking around the restaurant and lounge area. There are many other places to sit and have a drink – a comfy couch by the fireplace in the middle of the room, on smaller tables and stools covered in cow hide/sheep’s wool/some kind of fur to the side of the restaurant and outside amongst the vertical gardens.

Monster Kitchen and Bar are open every day of the week for breakfast, lunch and dinner (menu online states 7am to 1am).

P.S. The bald man, Max Brenner, is also opening up downstairs in Hotel Hotel.

I am loving all the new eateries popping up in Canberra. We are very spoilt for choice!

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Foodgasm 7/10

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2 comments on “Visiting the Monster @ Monster Kitchen and Bar”

  1. I went to Monster tonight with a friend, had pork cheek too and it was yummy but the accompaniments were a bit random! I was also expecting more of a stew…. So was a bit surprised! The chips are yummy too!

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