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A Fantastic Feast at MNKY HSE in London’s Mayfair

04 Jan A Fantastic Feast at MNKY HSE in London’s Mayfair

MNKY HSE is an intimate Latin American bar and restaurant, serving a unique blend of high quality and contemporary South American cuisine with a unique British spin.

The Latin American gastronomic landscape in London has grown in popularity over the last few years. Therefore, I was intrigued to find out what this latest addition to the fine dining scene had to offer. MNKY HSE (pronounced Monkey House) is located on the former site of the iconic Dover Street Wine Bar, nestled in the heart of Mayfair and a short walk from Green Park station.

On my arrival, my welcome was warm and inviting, and as I made my way downstairs to the restaurant, it was clear to see this is no ordinary eatery. Hidden behind a discreet town-house style exterior, MNKY HSE is split across two levels.

The venue includes an exclusive intimate bar and lounge area upstairs aptly named MNKY LGE, and a stylish main restaurant and bar downstairs that transforms into a pulsating night time setting. The lighting is dim and the decor plush with contemporary artwork that adorns the walls and makes for a luxuriant atmosphere.

The restaurant caters for 130 covers and has an open plan kitchen which overlooks banquette seating that is adjustable to accommodate dancing and encourage table-hopping.

There are a number of semi-private booths on offer which are built into artistically designed vaults, and are covered with vintage steel lift doors. These swanky pews are perfect for larger bookings or for those seeking a more intimate dining experience.

The two gorgeous bar areas are beautifully furnished with ultramodern pieces and serve a fine selection of premium drinks, cocktails, mezcals and excellent mocktails which make it the perfect destination for after work drinks or for that special celebration. In fact, MNKY HSE has become a real hotspot with celebrities and VIPs with the likes of Nicole Scherzinger, Tinie Tempah, Oswald Boateng, to name but a few, all passing through its doors.

My evening had started very well, and if the food was as good as the welcome, then I was in for a treat. I was shown to my table by the friendly Restaurant Manager who kindly took me through the menu options.

For those diners who know what they want, there is an impressive à la carte menu on offer with a great selection of experimental signature dishes that will surprise and delight in equal measure. However, if you really want to experience MNKY HSE at its very best, then I would recommend the sharing platter menu of which there are three to choose from. Be warned that the sharing platters are substantial, so ensure you enter MNKY HSE on an empty stomach to really enjoy this food extravaganza.

My drink of choice for the evening was a raspberry and passionfruit mocktail which was simply delicious and thoroughly recommended. However, for those who prefer their cocktails a little stronger, I would suggest you try the show-stopping MNKY Business rum cocktail, not just for its blissful taste, but the pure smoky theatre it exudes when it is poured is a must see.

My table setting was formal but with a hint of playfulness too as miniature monkey figurines are strategically placed on the linen table napkins and the terracotta plates. This was in keeping with the MNKY HSE theme throughout the venue and a lovely touch too.

In no time at all, my table began to swell with an array of tasty dishes to sample and first up were the moreish nachos with a spicy guacamole dip which were so easy on the palate. A plate of highly seasoned and enjoyable smoked heirloom tomatoes, radishes and morito oil made a dramatic entrance to the table under a glass dome filled with smoke. Next up was the sublime and fragrant Yellowtail Aguachiles with orange, ginger, passionfruit with a dash of Thai red chilli which really gave this dish an extra kick.

The tantalising Rock Shrimp Tempura smothered in arbol chili mayonnaise is a pleasing dish which I really enjoyed too. The savoury WAYGU tostada was a real fun dish that dazzled in taste and consisted of thinly sliced meat with a tangy mayonnaise sauce and a spritz of lime which gave it that sweet and sour citrus zing.

However, the stand out dish for me on the night was the MNKY BLK COD which is marinated in miso and Thai chillies. It was absolutely superb and cooked to perfection. Fish lovers will be sure to adore this dish as the fish is soft and tender to slice, full of flavour and alluringly presented. For meat lovers, like me, you’ll love the slow cooked short rib smothered in chilmole sauce on a bed of avocado hummus. It’s a real crowd pleaser, easy on the eye and tastes heavenly.

It was at this stage I had to take a break from the feeding frenzy which was so welcomed as I got the opportunity to meet the Michelin-trained Executive Head-Chef, Pablo Peñalos. Pablo is formerly of the Four Seasons in Bogotá and the acclaimed Morimoto in Mexico City. He is the commander and chief in the MNKY HSE kitchen and his culinary skills are exemplary.

Through his artistic dishes, Pablo re-visits his indigenous roots and marries traditional elements of Latin American cuisine effortlessly with fresh, British seasonal ingredients.

At this stage of the evening, a live band took over from the DJ’s duties and treated the diners to some classy Latin music which was well received. By now the restaurant was teeming with enthusiastic diners all enjoying this effervescent experience. My favourite track of the evening was the popular Brazilian anthem, Mas Que Nada, which everyone seemed to really enjoy whilst dining.

Dessert was duly served and I had just enough room to sample a few spoonfuls of both the ambrosial Chocolate fondant and the delectable Crème brûlée which were both sweet, divine in taste and a perfect way to end a fabulous dining experience.

I absolutely enjoyed my MNKY HSE experience and their ethos of ‘eat, drink and play’ combined with its electric atmosphere, vibrant soundtrack, outstanding cuisine and impeccable service will no doubt have guests flocking for feeding time at this fine-dining house of fiesta.

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