Investment banker by day, gym junkie by night - but always a writer at heart.
Published August 15th 2014
Fine dining without the price
In an area bustling with strong contenders, Monopole makes a terrific stand in Potts Point as one of the best priced fine eateries around. As a finalist of Sydney Morning Herald's Good Food Guide Awards for Best New Restaurant, this One Hatted restaurant and wine bar features an incredible wine list that has won it 3 awards in 2014. Despite its award prestige, Monopole's prices are on the cheaper side and it offers finer dining for cheaper price.
First impressions are good. It is dim, not so much that it becomes difficult to see but enough to give it some ambience. The bustle of activity is perfect – enough that you know you're somewhere popular but not too rowdy that it becomes unpleasant. The people here are somewhat dressed up, so there is a classy feel to it. The restaurant would be romantic if it wasn't for the volume; people talk freely. Instead, it settles for a feeling that's somewhere between romantic and cheeky, certainly not an atmosphere I will object to.
Bottles of wine line the wall opposite the bar, and the décor is dominated by the blacks of the walls, the browns of the tables, and the occasional glisten of small lights reflecting off glass. Lovely, but not over the top and not run down.
We are greeted and seated quickly on a small table, but as I am fairly broad and our table a bit small and exposed to thoroughfare, the waiter graciously moves my date and I to a large table in the corner without my having to ask. Lovely.
As a foodie once told me, when trying some place new, always pick the degustation, and that's just what we did. It's $65 per person for a 7 course set menu – this is what I mean by best priced. Hard to find that price at a restaurant like this.
The Monopole Menu (currently): Begins with bread, butter and cured meats (duck breast, Berkshire pork sausage, and Rangers Valley Bresaola). Cerviche of sardines, eggplant, and parsley
Salt cod, green peas, pistachio, and mint Snapper, endive, charred cabbage, and pickled onion Grilled lamb rump, spiced carrots, and smoked yoghurt
Sugar snaps, celtuce, and savoury lemon curd
- Ends with dessert: chocolate mousse, hazelnut, honeycomb, and blueberry
The current menu is quite similar to the one I had, however my date does not eat lamb so we got a lovely chicken wrapped in greens, and our dessert was the rhubarb sorbert, gingerbread, ginger curd, and poached rhubarb.
To compliment our meal, we had a glass of pinot noir each, and it was pleasantly smooth and pungent (though I have forgotten what the bottle was). As with all set menus, these dishes were quite hit and miss with me. Overall, most of them were delightful – an interesting combination of tastes and sensations in the mouth. However, I personally didn't enjoy some of these as much as the others.
A special shout-out to the dessert, it was a very interesting combination that was confusing at first but progressively more addictive with every taste.
The a la carte menu features 15 mains, with house cured meats, cheeses, and 2 desserts. All of these are very reasonably priced. Monopole is truly a fine dining experience minus the price.
Whilst I am not a big fan of fine dining, as I eat a lot, I highly recommend Monopole as a place to impress on a budget.