Part of a birthday celebration, six of us went to Monk McQueens for a Sunday brunch. It’s a great location for group dinner or lunch, because it’s a huge space. In fact, it’s one of the popular wedding venues.
More people means more items to try. Yay for me! First of all, 6 of us shared two orders of Crab & Shrimp Cakes. What surprised us wasn’t the size or the number of crab cakes, but that each plate came with two crab claws. It was so much fun to crack open those claws and dip in the chipotle sauce. The crab cakes were of decent size, and I like that the crab and shrimp meat wasn’t minced to mushy patty. They were big chunks of meat so it still gave you a bite. Each plate also came with two slices of poached pear, nice and sweet, but feeling a bit out of place especially it was sitting right on top of a slab of chipotle sauce. Overall a great start to our meal.
I ordered the Fish Tacos, 3 soft tacos filled with fish, scallops and corn salsa, paired with two sauces – avocado & lime creme fraiche (like guacamole) and tomatillo jalapeno sauce (think hot sauce). As expected, it was quite messy to eat them. The corn salsa was a bit watery, so juices were trickling down my palms and front arms. Not recommended if you were all dressy, unless you are a trained soft taco eater. The tacos were great. I found the fish pieces a bit fishy, though, if weren’t covered by the sauces. Other than that, I would order it again. Very filling and great value.
Being the traditional guy, Mr. picked Monk’s Classic Breakfast. It’s just like a breakfast you may cook at home on a Sunday morning – eggs, sausage, bacon, hash brown, croissant and fresh fruit. I tried a bit of everything and I liked the crispy hash brown and flaky croissant. The sausage was a bit too salty, but thankfully it wasn’t dry. I do like the fact that almost all of their brunch plates come with fresh fruit – a healthy addition to the plate.
Actually, I tried to have a bite of every dish, or ask for my friends’ feedback. The Calamari was quite good. The batter was light and the squid was very moist inside. The Smoked Salmon Scramble was my second choice and frankly, I was glad I went with the tacos because that dish was just okay. I couldn’t really taste the smoked salmon and I wish there was more salmon and less egg. Also there’s not a whole lot on the plate, scrambled egg, hash brown, croissant and fresh fruit – for $16 I would expect a bit more. MR told me the Monk’s Prime Rib Burger was pretty good, but there’s so much sauce that the burger bun got soggy after she started eating it. JX’s Seafood Corn Chowder seems creamy, but the fish pieces were way too big for her to enjoy the soup.
To our pleasant surprise, the restaurant offered us two free desserts because we made the reservation online (how I wish all restaurants would do the same for their OpenTable users!). Homemade Banana Bread Sandwich for sure stands out in the menu, because it’s not your typical dessert item. And it wasn’t really a dessert because none of the items was really sweet, just a hint of sweetness. And I wouldn’t consider it a sandwich because it was just two pieces of banana bread. The banana bread was moist, but the deep fried banana was disappointing. The shredded coconut crust was too coarse to be used as breading, I was too busy chewing the coconut I couldn’t taste the banana at all. Warm Chocolate Lava Cake was similar to regular molten lava cake, except the “lava” was drizzled on top, sitting in the well of the cake. Nothing extraordinary about it but it’s rich and decadent.
I was very happy with the service we received at Monk McQueens. First of all, our server was very patient with us, giving us plenty of time to decide on the menu items despite her few attempts to take our orders. Then, we had a toddler with us and even though she was very well-behaved, I was never sure if the restaurant was kid-friendly. I guess at a brunch setting, the restaurant was a bit more casual and had the atmosphere that is more suitable for families with young kids. Lastly, we needed some clean space to sign cards and look at photos, and our server quickly took care of it by giving our table a quick wipe. Of course the nice surprise of free desserts added some brownie points.
Good food with a gorgeous view of False Creek, I think Monk McQueens is excellent for gatherings sized big or small. It’d be even better in the summer because you can sit on the patio facing the water. I would be interested to go back and try its dinner menu.
601 Stamps Landing, Vancouver