August 13, 2001 | Ask Gael
Why in the world should I go to Monkey Bar now?
We're revisiting Planet of the Apes -- why not Monkey Bar? You feel witty and grown-up in this sophisticated den with its nostalgia for the days of Hollywood glamour-pusses at the Stork Club. For me, the place lost its imperative when chef John Schenk defected. A parade of Great Hopes failed to rekindle the heat. Enter David Walzog, chef-hero of Michael Jordan's Steakhouse and Strip House, with a straightforward market-driven menu. The day's special corn chowder with avocado mousse and the asparagus salad are elegant and delicious; his colossal crab cake, a triumph. Smartly turned-out tuna, crusty rib chop with choron sauce, and a top-notch sirloin with caramelized marrow almost distract me from my mini dried-out cut of halibut. And there's no anticlimax at dessert time. But: baby-green salad for $13? And why not throw in those fabulous fries with the $32 steak? And please, drill the clueless staff, just in case shell-shocked New Yorkers rally to celebrate Monkey Bar's renaissance.