Cheeky Monk – A Belgian Beer Cafe

Let me preface this potentially critical blog post by saying, I will be returning to the Cheeky Monk!

For beer lovers, Colorado is king.  With our wide selection of local breweries, it is possible to have a different beer for every day of the year.  But let us not forget that on a global level, Belgium is known for being the beer country to admire.  Their selection of brews range from the very fruity and sweet to the dark and bitter, but all made with a touch of historic class.  To find such libation options, one should head to their nearest Cheeky Monk; a restaurant known for its extensive Belgian beer list and generally authentic food options.

A beer flight

Although the Capitol Hill location is easily accessible by car, the onsite parking lot was an exercise in automobile yoga.  The narrow lot had virtually non-existent spot lines, which led to a parking free for all.  Trucks too large blocking major portions of the throughway and bad driver parking at all angles.  We squeezed my tiny coupe into the first available spot and prayed that the door dings would be kept to a minimum.  But hey, at least I didn’t have to park on the street!

To say that the ambiance of the restaurant was lacking is a bit of an understatement.  The outside of the building is very misleading in its Irish pub charm.  Upon crossing the thresh hold, it is clear that outside of installing the wooden bar, placing the tables and chairs, and throwing some medieval artwork on the walls, not much was done.  The space resonates noise so well, it was at times difficult to hear my dining companion even though the restaurant was not nearly full.  A little more decor might help to absorb the rampant noise issue.

Now, this experience wasn’t all bad.  After all, we did partake in the food and drinks they offered.  To begin our meal we each ordered one of the two beer flight options, as this is as good a way as any to sample the available brews.  We also placed orders for the two recommended appetizers: Cheese Croquets and Pickle Spears.  The former was a little lack luster.  It was only the Raspberry Vinaigrette that accompanied the deep fried cheese patties that really offered much flavor.

Cheese Croquettes

The deep fried pickle spears on the other hand were well endowed with the dill pickle goodness that so many crave.  Having been provided a sampling of dipping sauces for each appetizer, I can safely recommend going with a more subdued dipping option for the pickles.  We liked the Berry Balsamic and the Mustard, which complemented the pickle flavor well.  For the croquettes, try the Chipotle or Garlic/Lemon aioli, which will liven up this blah option a bit.

Pickle Spears

Next, we moved onto the house specialty, the steamed mussels.  We selected the Bacon and Gorgonzola as well as the Curry Cream with Roasted Apples.  The gorgonzola had a clearly distinct French cheese base that coated the tongue in cream.  In order to combat the residual cheese, I found that the Tripel Karneliex beer really refreshed the palette with its slightly bitter undertone.  The Curry Cream with Roasted Apples pot was reminiscent of Indian curry, but with the sweetness of the roasted apple.  By far my more favored of the two mussels we ordered.  I could not resist dipping my side of French fries in the delicious curry sauce.  This option also had a sampling beer that complemented the flavors well with its slightly sweet tones, the Dekonick Amber.

Gorgonzola and Bacon Mussels

And finally we made our way to the Entree portion of the meal, ordering the Bangers and Mash, as well as the Waterzooi.  The Bangers and Mash option consisted of smoked chicken-apple sausage, braised sauerkraut and a roasted garlic stoemp, which is really just a garlic mashed potato.

Bangers and Mash

Although the sausage was very good on its own, the flavors were fairly subdued, especially in comparison to the creamy mustard dipping sauce.  I personally prefer mustard with a kick, so this mustard dip was not particularly well paired in my opinion.  The creamy nature of the mustard masked any flavor of the sausage at all.  The kraut on the other hand was particularly good.  It was a mixture that not only included the kraut, but also what appeared to be shredded carrot.  It was very delicious and by far my favorite part of the dish.

The hands down winner for this meal though was the Waterzooi, a traditional Belgian style seafood and vegetable chowder.  It was creamy, yet light and completely refreshing with all of the vegetables.

Waterzooi

This soup can be eaten in either summer or winter.  It, along with the mussels and beer, are what will draw me back to this restaurant again!

Basic Info:

Cuisine: Belgian

Restaurant Features: Handicap Accessible, Onsite Parking, Outdoor Seating, Public Transit Accessible

Location: Capitol Hill

Address/Phone: 534 E Colfax Denver CO/ (303) 861-0347

Hours: 11am – 2am daily

Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Cafe on Urbanspoon

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