Contemporary Latin American cuisine meets Mayfair chic in Mark Morrans’ latest venture MNKY HSE.
The stylish restaurant is hidden behind a discreet entrance on Dover Street rubbing shoulders with Aston Martin, contemporary art shops and a plethora of other late night venues competing for the celebrity dollar on a street that plays like an A to Z of the rich and famous on most evenings.
An elegant lounge is decked out with a pristine wooden DJ booth as a focal point. Oversized furniture and contemporary artwork bask in sapphire mood lighting as mixologists fuss over a selection of experimental cocktails designed to be props for Instagram pics more than anything else.
Which sets the tone for the rest of the night. MNKY HSE is a place to be seen and as such every opportunity is taken to allow people the status brag they so craved when they agreed to pay £25 for seabass ceviche and £32 for lamb chops.
The décor is striking and the food is immaculately presented on a variety of inventive wooden slabs that sit nicely next to the toy monkeys that adorn each table. Prim and polished waiting staff nonchalantly talk you through the menu as they admire their own reflection in the back of your spoon and a wine waiter drifts in and out looking rather smug that he has managed to trap punters into paying over £30 for the house plonk.
A selection of four dishes were delivered to our table within ten minutes of ordering, with a yellow fin tuna tartare served on a vine leaf boat with quinoa rice cracker and cavier providing just about enough substance for three small spoonfuls each and a selection of tostadas, tacos and fritos trying in vain to make up the difference.
MNKY lamb chops anticucho were served for the main course in an aji panca marinade with smoked sweet potatoe puree. Tenderstem broccoli with choll butter, sesame and salt made for an agreeable but unspectacular featured course, and it was with rumbling stomachs that we requested a look at the dessert menu.
And alas I am glad we did. A chocolate encased avocado ice cream with a chocolate ball pip and tequila sorbet on the side looked and tasted exquisite. A separate bowl of sorbet also successfully paired style and substance in equal measures, providing a pleasing end to a disappointing meal.
Overall MNKY HSE has a good vibe and is clearly a place to be seen in one of London’s most affluent and celebrity-littered boroughs. But go for the mood not the food, else you might end up a little disappointed – and broke.