The Funky Monkey Wine Company
912 North Mills Avenue in Downtown Orlando, FL
I provide the exact address because if you are not paying attention, you will definitely pass this place, as it’s a hidden gem nestled on a block in between a gas station and a Vietnamese noodle house. However, as soon as you walk inside, it’s like you are in another world, away from the broken sidewalk you walked in on. Complete with velvet couches and pillows, high dining tables for two, and regular tables for parties of 3 or more, this quaint little Asian wine bar is the perfect place for the intimacy of a first date or a fun celebration with friends. The dim lighted atmosphere mixed with XM radio on the “chill” station makes for the perfect relaxing evening.
The menu consists of affordable upscale dining and is owned by the President of the Tasters Guild of Orlando, a non-profit food and wine appreciation society. I’m not lying when I tell you this man appreciates good food and wine and he hired the one chef that would carry out his vision of unconventional yet refined gourmet cuisine. Start with Fried Goat Cheese with panko almond crust served with bread and warm olive oil, or try the Warm Monkey salad. I know, I know, I also said to myself, “warm salad?!?” However, the spinach, candied walnuts with blue cheese and sautéed mushrooms, drizzled with warm balsamic vinaigrette is unbelievably tasty. The fresh hand-rolled sushi menu is very exotic and the staff is happy to deviate from the ingredients to create a custom roll to your liking. Be careful, though…the wasabi is so fresh that it brings tears to the eyes of those who normally enjoy the hottest of spicy foods. If you aren’t into sushi, the yellow tail snapper, duck breast, or angus beef burger all have the taste and presentation consistent with any five star gourmet restaurant but without the price. With over 120 bottles to choose from, the act of pairing the perfect wine with your dish is beyond easy. And the staff is very knowledgeable if you are not able to make a decision on your own.
There are only two things that compromise my giving the Monkey a perfect five stars. One is the time taken preparing the food. Since everything is fresh and made from scratch, you may wait no less than 30 to 45 minutes for your food to arrive. The other issue is the space available. The small dining room fills very quickly and if you do not have a reservation, be prepared to wait for a table, especially on a Monday or during happy hour when all sushi is half priced. I can say, however, that it is worth the wait, as each dish is made with love and I have never been disappointed once I’ve got my plate in front of me. I strongly encourage you to pay a visit to the Funky Monkey Wine Company when you are in Orlando. But I strongly suggest you order an appetizer, or just don’t go there hungry.
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