We arrived about dinnertime on a Friday evening and found a beautiful dining rooms, rich and dark with a fireplace and bold furnishings--but it was fairly empty. There were maybe six table or so occupied, and I had to wonder why? It is a gorgeous place, no doubt. We were quickly greeted and quickly seated. In a short time our waitress came out to take our drink orders. We both opted for a glass of wine, a fitting way to end a long work week and kick off the weekend.
After a bit we ordered appetizers. We asked out waitress about one item, the Florida Shrimp Mango Stack--but she really didn't seem to konw what it was! I was a bit surprised by that. I'd think the waitstaff should be well-versed in all the menu items. Oh well, for our first item we settled on the Fried Green Zellwood Tomatoes, and it was an excellent choice. The tomatoes were thick sliced and covered in a nice hearty breading, almost a crust. They were hot and not at all greasy, with the great tang that is characteristic of fried green tomatoes. The wasabi mayonnaise was good but could have used just a bit more kick. Still, overall, these were nearly the best fried green tomatoes I've had. I liked them a lot
Next we had the Sausage Mushrooms. Large mushroom caps were stuffed with a savory sausage mixture and topped with a creamy cheese sauce. These were OK but just OK. I thought they could have come out a bit hotter. The sausage mixture was just a bit gristly which surprised me, though it had a nice flavor. The cheese sauce was OK. I must add, both this and the other appetizer were garnished with a very nice coleslaw--it had a slightly asian tang to it and was very good. So the Sausage Mushrooms, were OK, just not out of the world great as they could have been.
I had a salad to start my meal. It was a good salad of mixed greens with a bit of cucumber, onions, and a few halved grape tomatoes on it. I had a house viniagrette dressing--it was good. One thing I did not quite like, and that was the croutons--they were not very crispy. It was as if they'd not been dried enough. They were just a bit soft and rubbery, not what a good crouton should be.
We had not ordered our main dishes until the appetzers came out, but it was a fairly long wait for the main course. Our waitress did come by to apologize for the wait, telling us that the kitchen was a bit slow. I guess when there are only a few other tables, you have to wonder how that can be? It seemed a bit apologetic to me, and she mentioned that they had a lot of new staff. Made me wonder why.... But eventually we did get our main courses.
For his main course, my friend Tommy had the Top Sirloin. He ordered it medium rare, but I'd say it came out more medium than rare, just a bit over cooked. And, there was a pool of juice on the plate, a tell-tale sign that it had not rested properly after cooking--perhaps in a rush to get it out, but still.... Still, the steak itself was very tender and moist and juicy and very tasty. And the baked potato was all it should have been. So from a flavor standpoint, this was good.
For my main course I had the Grilled Atlantic Salmon. The salmon was cooked very nicely, it had a bit of a glaze/crust on it that was really, really very good, and it was moist and tender and juicy. It was as good a piece of salmon as I've ever had. It was topped with a dill cream sauce that added a nice flavor the salmon. And, the portion was decent, much better than it looks in the picture. For my go-with I had the crab rice, and that was really a disapointment. It wasn't bad, but just wasn't really all that memorable. And I'm not sure what made it "crab" because I didn't taste crab in it. As a matter of fact it was slightly under cooked and there was at least one chunk on the plate that indicated to me that it had been held for some time. After the greatness of the salmon, this was a bit disappointing.
So, our experience at Monroe's was a mixed on. There were some high points in the food: the flavor of the steak, the salmon, the fried green tomatoes. And a manager came by twice to check on us. But there were also a few missteps, the lack of rest for the steak, the chewiness of the sausage in the mushrooms, the one-note of the crab rice that was missing any crab flavor. Would I eat here again? Well, they have a few other menu item's I'd like to try, so perhaps. But it will not be my top choice, I'm afraid. I suggest you give it a try and tell me what you think! But you better hurry, the low attendance would certainly make me wonder if they'll stay around a long time yet.....