I am so happy to be writing this blog post. The reason being is because last night I got to try Drunken Munkey on the Upper East Side, and I enjoyed myself so much that I wanted to share it with you. This place was off the hook, and I’ve been raving about it ever since! It’s an Indian restaurant, believe it or not, and the cocktails are ranked pretty high in the Upper East Side according to Yelp and Foursquare. Wait, an Indian restaurant with awesome specialty cocktails, you ask? Why yes! The two aren’t typically paired together often but this place was super trendy and chic, and not your typical Indian restaurant vibe. The experience was totally worth the wait for the table 🙂
I’ve been meaning to try Drunken Munkey for a while now. It’s only a couple blocks down from us on 92nd Street and I walk past it pretty much everyday. And it’s ALWAYS bumpin’. The first time I passed it I was like “Whatttt is thatttttt??” because the outside is completely lit by red lighting. Everything down to the candles on the outdoor tables were red. At first I thought it was a bar because everyone is always drinking and it’s always super packed at nighttime, and the name “Drunken Munkey” implied alcohol (which obviously attracted my attention). But one time Matt and I were walking past and I was like “OoOoOoOhHhHh Matt let’s go see what that place is!” and sure enough we looked at the menu and saw that it was Indian!
Now, I love me some good Indian food. But you have to admit most Indian restaurants aren’t like, hip and cool and stuff. Usually they have like pink christmas lights and you’re served by a middle-aged Indian man with a thick accent. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Lots of Indian places are family owned and truly authentic, which would totally make sense for that description, and they’ve got killer food. I sometimes like to find those little hole-in-the-wall Punjabi places to get some real legit Indian dishes. The Drunken Munkey is NOT one of those places. But it was seriously one of the most stylish Indian restaurants I’ve ever been to and the food was similarly phenomenal.
When we walked in of course there was a 30-45 minute wait. Not that I minded; anywhere good in NYC will probably have a wait. But Matt and I were STARVING because we had waited for him to get off work, so if it had been any longer we probably would have gone elsewhere. We were planning on just getting some cocktails and sitting outside until these old ladies took the spot we had our eye on! So we were hovering awkwardly inside, which is hard because the entrance is tight, and the host (or manager) came up to us and offered to send us to the bar down the street with two drinks on him, and he would text us when our table was ready. Ummm, really? Too good to be true! I was impressed! The host was dressed impeccably and was very polite, and giving us a voucher for two free drinks really made me like the place before we even sat down!
So I didn’t even know there was a bar down the street… and I’ve lived in the neighborhood for 5 months now. But we head off that way and see the entrance to this bar whose name i still don’t even know. There wasn’t a sign or anything. We go inside and literally this place was hilariously laughable. Not to be mean, but it was just such a bad bar! It reminded me of one of the bars you see on Bar Rescue, with hardly any decorations or a theme and only cut-out pumpkins taped to their bare walls. Awww. I immediately realized why they had struck up a deal with Drunken Munkey to host their overflow, because aside from Drunken Munkey customers it was almost dead except for a few sad regulars. But, the upside was that this place had a killer outdoor garden space! That is SO hard to find on the Upper East Side! Except it was kinda overgrown and just a few lonely picnic tables were thrown out there. Ahhhh what a shame! The place has serious potential if someone could just in and redo the whole place! I told Matt that I hope they go out of business so somebody else can come in and build an awesome restaurant or bar. I promise I’m not a bad person though….
Anyways, pretty soon after we got our beers we got the text saying that our table was ready. So we chugged our Heinekens and off we went! When we got in the manager asked if we had enjoyed ourselves, and I guess he could tell by the way we guiltily looked at each other what we were thinking. He kind of smiled and was like “I know, I’m sorry!” and we were like “omigosh no it was fine, thank you!” Hahah. Here’s a picture of the inside of the restaurant:
We got a nice booth table in the corner and looked over the menu. Our waitress was totally adorable and I loved her dearly. She was also very helpful. She recommended the Butter Chicken Tikki Masala, as it was the most popular dish. When I told her I was pescetarian she recommended the Shrimp Curry for me, which is what I ended up ordering! Matt ended up ordering the Goan Pork Vindalu. We also ordered the grilled Tiger Prawns for an appetizer, and two cocktails!
I got “The Bees Knees” for a cocktail, which is a gin drink with citrus and honey. I loved it! Matt got a spicy Old Fashioned, which is gross to me what whatevs. For the first time in my life I actually paced myself because I wanted to enjoy my cocktail… and I’m also getting older and can’t drink like I used to.
Our next came an appetizer that we didn’t order, the the Paani Puri. I guess the waitress thought we had ordered it because we were asking what it was, so when it came out we didn’t know if it was supposed to be on the house or complimentary or something. But naturally we ate it, knowing that if it was a mistake then we would have to pay for it, but oh well! It was a puff pastry served cold with a minty broth inside mixed with herbs. It was a very unique dish. The flavor was great but the coldness kind of threw me off, because since it’s a liquid inside you’d expect it to be hot. But it was still good!
The star of the show was definitely the Tiger Prawns that we ordered. Honestly I’ve never seen such huge shrimp! I enjoyed every single bite. They were deep fried and served with two sauces, one was like a smoky pepper sauce and one was like a basil yogurt-y sauce. They were both out of this world, and when we finished the shrimp we scraped up the shredded veggies underneath to keep dipping in the sauces. And, the shrimp heads literally just fell right off! No struggle to get to the meat, just easy delectable shrimp bites!
By the time the entrees came I was already in love with this place. And my Shrimp Curry continued to impress me. It was served with saffron rice, a generous serving of naan, and a yogurt dipping sauce. Our waitress also gave us a lemon sauce to pour over our rice. I was in sauce heaven! My mind was overloaded with infinite sauce/food combinations. But I stuck to the basics and just loaded my rice into the Shrimp Curry dish and dug in, occasionally stopping to dip a shrimp in the yogurt sauce. Matt’s dish was on point as well. But sure enough, soon I started feeling that horrible feeling of getting full when you still have food you want to devour. So I ended up giving about 1/3 of my meal to Matt, which he quickly disposed of.
See those pink and green things? Those are peppers. SPICY peppers, which the waitress warned us about. But Matt of course chomped the entire green one at once. At first he looked normal and seemed okay, but about 90 seconds later beads of sweat were running down his face and he was breathing heavily. He refused to take a sip of water because he’s convinced that it’ll make the heat worse, so I just watched him sweat it out. I considered eating the pink one to make him feel better but decided to instead put it in a napkin to take home with me so I could try slipping it in Matt’s food later.
At the end of the meal the waitress brought over two drinks for us, on the house. Either she liked us or she realized that with the amount of pictures I was taking I would probably review the place later. Nevertheless it was highly appreciated. I’m not sure exactly what it was but I think it was the Elderflower Champagne Cocktail.
By the end of the meal we were loving life. I vow to go there again. This place gets 4.5/5 stars!
By the way, this morning Matt threw away the pepper I stole so I couldn’t poison him. He’s too smart!