The Cheeky Monk, at 534 East Colfax Avenue, serves up enough variety of Belgian beer to satisfy the most discerning Flemish fetishist, and if you venture across the expansive dark wood dining room and peruse the menu, you will find a menu that ventures well beyond Belgian staples (waffles and fries!).
The Cheeky Monk stakes it name on its wide selection of Belgian beer, offering a choice that is likely unmatched in the state. With exclusivity comes cost, with beers ranging from $4.50 to a soon-to-arrive specialty brew that will sell for $60. Most draft beers though are in the $5-$10 range, and unless you are connoisseur, you will likely be trying something new, with a name likely to flummox your American-English speaking sensibilities, such as the following: Blanch de Bruxelles, La Chouffe, Affligem, Kwak, and Koningshoeven.
I am a pale ale drinker, which is not in the repertoire of Belgian brewers, so I am not the person to offer up much of an opinion on the beer. Everything I have had there has been drinkable, but I never found it necessary to order the same thing twice. Of course, Belgian beer lovers, and really anyone whose tastes go beyond hoppiness, will find something they like. Also, and I am unsure of the reasoning, but it may have to do with a distribution agreement, each beer comes in a signature glass. Order a Kwak, you will get a Kwak glass, etc. If they run short of glassware, you will be told to wait, or more interesting, given a beer after giving the server explicit permission that it is OK.
I have had sandwiches, croquettes, and frites over the course of several visits and have had mixed luck. The frites are always good. The croquettes, delicious, as fried cheese should be, but have been let down by the sandwiches. This time around we tested our luck by avoiding sandwiches.
The bangers and mash was good. It is hard to make a bad sausage, but the surprising thing, the sausages were overshadowed by the sauerkraut. The sauerkraut was spiked with carrots and had a roasted quality to it, not the biting flavor you get from hot dog vendors. This was all tied together with a garlic leek stoemp, which are, essentially, lightly mashed potatoes.
The fish and chips were…fish and chips. A little heavy on the breading, but was perched atop frites, which is a saving grace for nearly any food.
The three cheese penne in a cream sauce and topped with bread crumbs, was a wonderful marriage of texture and flavor. Think about what a three cheese cream sauce should taste and feel like and they nail it.
I would not consider the Cheeky Monk to be great, but it is a safe bet for drinks and a meal. And coming off the heels of the Great Wall and a drink at the Roslyn Bar and Grill, it is a shining star.