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Monkey Bar

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  • Cuisine: American
  • Vibe: Swanky supper club
  • Occasion: Stargazing; see and be seen. Impress your date.
  • Don’t Miss: Monkey bread, Nora’s meatloaf, sticky toffee pudding
  • Price: Appetizers, $13; entrees, $25; dessert, $9
  • Reservations: Highly recommended
  • Phone: (212) 308-2950
  • Location: 60 E. 54th St., near Park Ave.

“My grandfather would love this menu,” my friend said as she
surveyed the offerings – oysters Rockefeller, clams casino, steak
tartare, Chasen’s chili and lobster Newburg. On my first visit, I had
an oily, oily skate with sun-dried tomatoes, capers and onions.

The chef who made the skate was fired a month after opening. Larry Forgione, who owned An American Place, has ­
taken
over as consulting chef, and the skate’s gone, but most of the menu
remains the same. There’s a tasty dish called kedgeree, a traditional
Indian dish made with smoked haddock, curried rice, scallions and
coriander, all topped with a poached egg. And there’s a well-executed
entree of seared scallops with creamed corn and smoky bits of bacon.

Considering Carter’s reputation and Forgione’s pedigree, the food
should be a lot better. The lobster Newburg tasted like the crustaceans
died years ago, the roast halibut was horribly overcooked, and the
Chasen’s chili desert-dry.

Someone at my table called the cavatelli pasta with chewy short ribs “a dank train wreck.”

So save room for dessert, because most are excellent – a sticky toffee pudding, Elysian Muscat Jell-O and malted milk chocolate mousse with peanut brittle. Pastry chef Caryn Stabinsky, who worked at WD-50, also makes the monkey bread.

Graydon Carter’s social circus has come to midtown. All his Monkey Bar needs now is better food.

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