This Easter Sunday, a party of 10 (a mix of some oldies and some newbies) visit the Monk Brewery on the Cafe Strip in Fremantle. Not quite searching for inner solace so much as beer, we discovered a monastery that deserves a second visit.. and a third.. and a fourth..
A gorgeous sunny day deserved some top notch food, and for the most part the Monk delivered.
- To start with one of the few negatives, Will and Kate chose the pork belly dish but found it was a little disappointing. There was no crisp to the skin, and so when you're dealing with pork belly no crisp leaves you with gelatinous fat cubes. Will and Kate didn't finish the meal - not a good sign.
- The Monk also serves a number of different styles of chips. The shoe string fries shown below had mixed reviews. Personally I didn't really rate them as they were too hard to eat. You either pick them up individually and feel like a child choosing to eat hundreds-and-thousands one at a time, or you pile them into your gob by the handful and look barbaric.
- I went with the fish of the day special and it was brilliant. It came out with prawns and assorted other shellfish, and some kind of ravioli along with a béarnaise (I think?) sauce. Delish. Would order again.
- Summer Bay and Gorgeous George shared a seafood pizza and found it to be very nice. You can see from the photo they didn't skimp on the toppings and the dough was presumably freshly made and wood fired. I was a little jealous, but I chose to go with lighter food selections to allow more room in the calorie-budget for beer.
- Madam Rabbit ordered the vegetarian variant of the Wagyu Burger. The waiter was very kind to let Madam Rabbit know the vegetarian version didn't have any wagyu in it - shocking - but whereas she was told it came with a vegetarian paddy of some sort, instead it came out with a giant portobello mushroom. It wasn't a bad burger, but the Monk charges the same price for a true Wagyu Burger as it does for a portobello-Wagyu Burger and I'm not sure I like that.
- Midnight Oil and Marmite selected a salad with accompanying snacks, including chips, squid, sweet potato chips, chorizo and something called pakoras - I have no idea what these are.
- I tried the chorizo and all of the chips and they were great. The chorizo I think probably isn't a meal for one person to order, it's very much a to-be-shared dish as, although the flavour is wonderful, I think after a few goes at it starts to lack contrast and risks becoming bland.
- The sweet potato chips were nice, but the beer battered chips were better. I suspect the health benefits of the sweet potato chips probably don't make it worthwhile - you may as well go for the proper chips with dipping sauce.
A great selection of beers. We were going to order a few paddles to try them all out but became distracted (likely by something shiny) and ended up sticking to pints of our preferred ales. Plenty of wines, I think William ever ordered a cocktail at one point. Drinks were good - you should try them.
Service was very good. We had one guy with a beard and tattoos (which, in Fremantle, is akin to saying the man had eyes and a nose) who was funny and regularly checking on us to ensure we remained well fed and watered. At one point we asked to be reseated so that we could watch the Dockers Game on the television and they moved us to the other end of the restaurant, to a section that was apparently closed. It was a nice special effort that they didn't need to make and was appreciated.
The Monk is table service throughout. Later in the afternoon I think perhaps the table service slowed down some, but perhaps that was them rightly applying some responsible service of alcohol procedures.
It's a nice feel inside, and Fremantle is a wonderful town. The Monk absolutely deserves its place on the Cafe Strip and has nailed the atmosphere of the port city. It's a big-ish place, with a kitchen at its core and a decent split between inside and outside space.
It might be the beer talking but I loved it. Perhaps the winner for 2015 so far. Food was nearly a clean sweep, with only a few misses. Feel of the place fits Fremantle perfectly. It was busy without being packed to the rafters. Perhaps the only high-level criticism is that the Monk is bordering on the expensive. The $25.00 portobello-wagyu burger is a decent example of them approaching crazytown - haven't they seen the price of iron ore lately?
As an overall package, though, we all had a wonderful time and would recommend it to others.
8.5 bearded Freo hipsters out of 10
Edit: It appears there may have been a vegetarian patty under the giant portobello mushroom! Our apologies to the Monk. Still pricey, though..