Alright, despite being a grammatically terrible sentence, the truth of it is undeniable. There are just some things which are better left alone, unable to be improved upon and if attempted, disappointment and outrage would surely ensue. ‘Tis the way with stalwart tradition and the institutions which best exemplify that the status quo is the only way to go.
Thusly, we ventured to the Monte Carlo in the North Loop. Not our first time there, Pete and I entered in a detective like mode- ready to pick apart the workings of the place. As most of you know, the first thing you notice is the hypnotizing bar. Surely every version of every concoction of any libation has seen its way through the plentiful supply and skill set of the men behind the copper top. There is a certain comfort in their presence and capability that makes one want to order a Hendricks at an unapproved hour.
Secondly one is beckoned by a bygone feeling of the décor. Surely this cannot have changed greatly since its inception in 1906. White tablecloths, art deco lighting, and a large print floral wall-paper do nothing to disguise the past. Regulars populate the place with their same tables reserved like clock-work. The servers, in uniform support this role. And then there is the scent. What IS that scent? It wafts by you, embraces you and then leaves you for another table. WHAT IS THAT ??– you ask your wonderfully attending wait-staff.
The chicken wings. Well of course it is. Like any good bar in the metro, the success is in the sauce. But in this case – it’s a dry rub. And its better than any sauce. When we googled “Chicken Wing recipe at the Monte Carlo” we discovered there is much contention as to their make up. One blogger for heavytable.com (05/22/2014 by JOY SUMMERS) indicated that John Rimarcik, who owns the Monte Carlo indicates that the mysterious flavor and incomparable crunch of the wings is a product of the careful mixing of 18 different ingredients. And in contrast to much speculation, is devoid of any “traditional” Chinese Five Spice contributions, but instead is a result of a carefully balanced mix of cinnamon, red pepper, cumin, oregano, celery salt and onion powder (plus 13 more “secret” ingredients). Regardless, the combination offers a beautifully rounded flavor that is present from the first bite to the last. Pete also enjoys the cold poached salmon plate which is clean eating at its essence. A healthy piece of poached salmon surrounded by a delicious cucumber salsa, sliced new potatoes and green beans served chilled is totally satisfying without the guilt.
As a new “tenant” in the North Loop area, dining options abound and we’ve made our fair share of stops. But for consistency, comfort, deliciousness and throwback feeling/service- we are returning to the Monte Carlo again and again as legions of people have done for 11 decades prior. We are honored to be a part of history.
No Shortcuts. Ever.