The Drunken Monkey is situated on the busy Shoreditch High Street, just near to Commercial Street. A great location for bars and some very fine restaurants also but alas the Drunken Monkey was not what I had envisaged. Now to a large degree, I’m not one for leaping where angels fear to tread, so I did my homework and found some good indicators that this was a place to go.
I took my better half out for a date on a Thursday evening thinking the Drunken Monkey would be ideal for a quiet meal of Dim Sum. On arrival the outside looked a little like something out of Blade Runner, with a deep crimson colour and dance music coming from within – though the fact it was dark and raining heavily might not have helped this impression. The outside left the impression it was going to be a den for city workers drinking their ‘hard earned cash’ away; and indeed on entering it was crammed like a pub/bar rather than the restaurant I’d been aiming for.
We were lead to our table which was located in a small, dark reddish-lit side room with a large table usually for four or more people shoved up against the wall in the corner. There was little romantic about thus experience thus far.
Onto the food then; we ordered four dishes: Prawn and chive dumplings, chilli salt fried squid, duck spring rolls and Singapore noodles with chicken. The dumplings and the noodles were good with a balanced flavour, succulent and with a hint of heat to them, moreish and we could have gone back for seconds. At first the salt squid were tasty also, but quickly you realised they had retained an enormous amount of oil from the cooking and they became very sickly indeed… The portion sizes weren’t vast by any means, but the price level seems aimed at cheap-and-cheerful so this was expected.
The staff were polite and smiling a lot, but all the while there was a slight impression of being rushed; the second a dish was finished, there was someone clearing the plate of the table with haste
The overriding feeling left was of a venue that in the evening does not know whether it is a pub or an eatery. I may have picked a bad day for a visit, but in all honesty if you’re after a sit down meal or authentic Dim Sum experience, I’d go elsewhere. However, if you’re in a rush on a Friday or Saturday night, and don’t mind a boisterous fast-paced environment then this might be for you.
Alas I won’t be returning for anything other than a few pints and a bag of the dry roasted.
222 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6PJ