23 January 2024

Vegetables take centre stage at Monster Bar and Kitchen

| Lucy Ridge
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A burrata dish with zucchini ribbons, basil leaves and a red sauce.

Seasonal ingredients accompany the burrata. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Monster Kitchen made the switch to a fully vegetarian menu in 2020 as an experiment that was so successful they’ve kept the veggies around and now feature a full-time vegetarian menu.

While my carnivorous colleagues scoffed at my choice, it was so nice to be able to go out for a nice meal with my parents – both long-time vegetarians – where the full menu was available to everyone at the table.

The herbivorous menu is categorised by snacks, small plates, shared plates and sides, although these are fairly arbitrary headings. My advice is to pick whichever plates sound good and go for it!

Interior of bar

There’s an inventive drinks list at Monster Kitchen and Bar. Photo: Monster.

We ordered six dishes across the menu showcasing a variety of cross-cultural flavours and techniques. It was nice to see truly seasonal ingredients taking centre stage on dishes like burrata zucchini ribbons and basil. This came dusted with pistachio dukkah and a particularly tasty sauce which wasn’t listed on the menu but tasted like romesco to me. Focaccia was provided to mop everything up, but we also ordered the sun-dried tomato bread which worked very well.

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The beet tartare is a clever vegetarian take on the raw meat classic. Chopped beetroot sits on a tart yoghurt base with pickled beetroot slices, eschalot and dill. You’d never mistake it for the steak version, but it’s a really nice dish when considered on its own merit. It also comes with a tapioca cracker dusted with pink beetroot dust which makes a great scooping vessel with textural variety.

Cast iron pan with tall pasta.

Although classed as a side, nobody should put the rotolo in the corner. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

I particularly liked the cabbage and cheese fried momos (Nepali-style dumplings), as well as the spinach gnudi which are gnocchi-style dumplings usually made with ricotta. The pumpkin rotolo was nominally a ‘side’ dish but, in reality, was about the same size as many others. Served in a baking hot cast iron pan, the tall tubes of pasta were filled with a pumpkin and cream cheese puree and baked with tomato sugo. There were whole hazelnuts scattered throughout, which were a bit of a surprise but a nice addition.

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We chose to have everything served as it came, although next time I’d probably split things up as we were slightly overwhelmed when all our dishes came in quick succession.

Local and international wines feature on the drinks list, including a full page of non-alcoholic mocktails, beer and wines.

In the foreground, a dessert with peanuts and chocolate, with a different bowl of dessert in the background.

The desserts were delicious. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

For dessert, we shared a lavender crème brûlée and the Snickers parfait. I enjoyed the flavours of both, but was disappointed that the brûlée was hidden under a large scoop of ice cream, depriving us of the opportunity to crack the burnt toffee surface. The parfait was also delicious with a mix of sweet and salty flavours. I particularly enjoyed the pairing of banana ice cream and chocolate crisps.

If you enjoy seeing vegetables made the star of the show you will love Monster, regardless of whether you identify as vegetarian.

Monster Kitchen and Bar is located in the Nishi Building, 25 Edinburgh Avenue, New Acton. The kitchen is open for dinner from Thursday to Saturday 6 pm to 10:30 pm. Lunch is available on Fridays from 12 noon. They are also open for breakfast seven days a week from 7 am to 10.30 am, and the bar is open from 2 pm til late every day. Book online and follow Monster on Instagram.

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