A Monkeytown 2006 Celebration

I wasn’t already DJing at Snacky (see the little flyer at the top right-hand corner of the site for details) I think I would spend New Year’s Eve at Monkeytown, Williamsburg’s grooviest restaurant/screening room/art-performance space.

Appropriately enough, 4AD recording artists Celebration (pictured) are playing. I saw them during CMJ. Here’s what I wrote then…

They were somewhere between The Secret Machines and the
Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The three-piece featured a relentlessly pounding drummer; a
multi-instrumentalist who kept his back to crowd the whole time and
played a bank of old keyboards and organs, some occasional guitar, and
also played bass via Moog foot pedals; and Katrina Ford who is of the
Jim Morrison /Karen O. school of lead singers. She writhed through the
crowd for most of the show — getting literally in people’s faces. You could
certainly dance to it, but Celebration aren’t doing the punk funk
thing, it’s much more grimy (not grime), bluesy, sexual. I would go see
them again in a heartbeat.

Admission is $25 in advance, $30 day of the show, and includes a champagne toast at Midnight. Their website strongly urges you to buy tickets in advance (or call and reserve a spot with your credit card) as space seems extremely limited. Doors open at 11:30 PM.

Before that you might as well have dinner there.  It was reviewed last week in the New York Times$25 and Under column, where Peter Mehan had this to say:

As much of Williamsburg steadily marches on toward its fate of
high-rises and higher rents, it is heartening to see a good-humored
arty project like Monkey Town put down roots, even more so on account
of its adventurous and often rewarding cooking.

I ate there about a month ago and thought the food — which is billed as "classic dishes from a country that doesn’t exist" — was pretty good and, at the very least, adventurous and playful. And not that expensive! I especially liked their braised short ribs with Chinese long beans on an oatmeal cake. With almost every dish they throw in a curve ball, something you wouldn’t think would go well with the rest of it. In the case of the oatmeal cake, it was crunchy on the outside and texturally was sort of like bibimbap.

Some of those curve balls hit you right in the face, however. The milk chocolate curry mousse is in-your-face bad. Too much curry powder and way too much salt. But Monkeytown dares to fail spectacularly.

Unfortunately, those short ribs aren’t on the $35 pre-fixe New Year’s Eve menu (the curry mousse is, fyi), which is not included in the Celebration gig ticket and is available from 6PM to Midnight. The other choices sound good, including the Times-recommended kafir lime meatballs, and the grilled bass. Here’s the Menu:

Starters (a choice of):
red miso posole soup
kafir lime meatballs 
spicy grilled squid salad

Entrees (a choice of):
truffle mushroom risotto
grilled herb crusted striped bass
harissa lamb loin chop

milk chocolate curry mousse
rose-pomegranate cheesecake

All the details can be found on Monkeytown’s website.