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Taps: 20 / Bottles: 218
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]
264 S 16th St
phone: (215) 545-7005
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$
Visited 9.30.11 with some friends while in Philly, this was destination number one for beer and lunch.
This place is a lot bigger than it looks from the front...well, deeper I guess. We were seated at a table in the Back Bar. Immediately ordered a Tilquin Gueze (excellent) and perused the rest of this list. Some some classic Cantillons, some 3F, DDC, Allagash including limited draft offerings, some unique Swedish draft, a few Belgians I'd never heard of and a lot I had heard of in bottles, Stillwater was well represented too.
The selection by far beats the standard up-scale beer bar list, but I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed...this place has been so trumped up as one of the best beer bars on the East Coast, that I suppose I had too high of expectations. That being said, I'm a pretty jaded consumer (it takes a lot to surprise me at this point), so I still give them mad props! Especially on their selection of sours. (Any knock in this paragraph is directed at patrons of Monks who puff them up, and not at the actual experience.)
Our waiter/bartender was solid. Seemed to know some about the beers, but didn't proffer a lot of info. Very attentive though and kept our beers full.
I had the Seitan "Cheese Steak" with mushrooms and onions topped with St Nectaire cheese...pretty tasty. I asked for more info about the cheese but our waiter didn't really have any info other than how it tastes. Wanted details about its origins...oh well, have to look it up I guess.
All in all a very nice experience. Would recommend and would go again!
10-03-2011 03:43:30 |
More by SFLpunk
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
I really enjoy stopping at Monk’s whenever I am in Philly visiting. They have an excellent ambiance for enjoying their beautiful array of Belgian beers! Although there tap list is relatively small, they always have an excellent selection of beers. The “Beer Bible” is an awesome addition to this wonderful place. The bottles are reasonably priced and you can purchase most of their options to-go, if you prefer.
The location is in the heart of Philly which adds to the fun of this place. Finding a place to park near Monk’s can be tricky depending on when you go; however, parking several blocks away and walking is just as well as you get to experience some nice history throughout the beautiful, historic atmosphere that Philly brings to all of its guests.
The folks working at Monk’s are uber knowledgeable and very helpful. You can always rely on them to offer a good recommendation for beer – helpful for the less-informed beer drinker. The food is a bit pricey for pub fare; however, I am use to paying less than $10-12 for a meal and beer in Colorado which is often unheard of on the East Coast. With that said, I do enjoy the variety of options their menu offers and they always have interesting things to try.
All-in-all I love visiting Monk’s and think it is a top-notch beer bar that every publican should set out to visit at some point in their journey of drinking beer.
09-23-2011 20:33:22 |
More by spdyfire83
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Went to Monk's for Zwanze 2011. Outside of the fact that it is smaller than I expected it was great! Our waitress was very friendly and did a great job putting up with us for over 4 hours. The beers on tap were amazing ( Pliney the Elder, Lost Abbey Salvation and Monks Flemish Red) Once the back bar opened for Swanze we were also able to get Cantillons St. Lamvinus (Outstanding!)along with Zwanze 2011 and two surprizes from the owner, Zwanze 2009 and 2010 in the bottle! We also purchased a bottle of Lost Abbeys Avatar 2008 which completely wowed our taste buds! Unbelievable day all around. And the food..the Pommes Frites were really good and the bourbon Mayo for dipping went very well with the Pliney. Later we had the flat bread with dips which was also very good. For lunch we had the steamed mussels which were also very good and a large serving for the price. I cannot wait to go back as any true lover of Belgian beer and the craft beer scene should make this a stop on their list.
09-23-2011 16:18:02 |
More by Geuzedad
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$$
stopped by Monk's Cafe again for the first time in probably five years. Hasn't changed much.
Great beer selection, high quality taps and bottles. Some stuff you can't get anywhere else.
Small, the place is the width of a row home. So if you don't have a seat at a table or at the bar, there is no place to stand without constantly being in the way of servers or other patrons walking by. The hipster bartenders seemed annoyed to have to serve you. Draft prices weren't too bad, but the bottle prices can be crazy. Double the price I can pay at a bar in the suburbs.
07-25-2011 21:12:56 |
More by jmdrpi
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5 | $$$
Stopped here for lunch on our way home from DE. I was extremely excited to check out Monk's.
Parking was a bitch. Monk's is located smack in the middle of downtown Philadelphia. There are some meters/spaces on the adjacent blocks, but even on a Sunday afternoon we had no luck. After circling for 15 minutes we begrudgingly parked in a garage that charged something like $15.
The building is rather small, and the signage doesn't stand out very well. We walked right by it without knowing it until we had to double back when the GPS couldn't find it.
When you walk in the place looks very small. A tiny bar up front and a handful of tables. We were seated in the back room though where the tables were lined with church pews on either side for seating. That's kinda cool, albeit maybe a little uncomfortable over time.
The draft list wasn't really standing out to me. A lot of really light beers and more common Belgians were on there. My wife got Urthel Saisonnaire and another saison.
I opted for bottles, and the huge cellar list was tough to sort through to make a decision. I finally picked out a Cantillon Iris 2004 and later a bottle of Smisje Calva Reserva.
The server was fairly attentive and very knowledgeable. However when he brought out my Iris he was a little perplexed at the bottle. There has been considerable wear (the label was half rotted off and I think there was a little slime around the cork). He quickly hurried away and come back with the bottle pre-opened. This annoyed me a little though the beer tasted fine.
Where Monk's truly shined for my wife and I though, was the food. My friends got rabbit stew and a really nice salad. I wound up with one of their Belgian sandwiches (which was very good) and we got an appetizer of streamed mussels.
GET THE MUSSELS!!!
These were the best steamed mussels I have ever had. They prepare them in a variety of broths (usually beer infused). We decided to get the ones with Classic Gueuze broth... hell yeah). The damn things arrive in a very large bucket (and we got the smaller of the two sizes). The bucket was something insanely cheap like $7.99 and contained roughly 30-40 mussels. The broth was amazing... we were scooping it up with the empty shells and dipping our bread in it.
Price: the draft beer was maybe a little high, but you expect that in the city. The bottle prices were very high in most cases though. The food is decently priced except for the mussels which were an amazing value.
If I ever return I am going to just feast on mussels. Seriously. Get them.
Overall what began as a frustrating day turned into a great experience. I'd happily come back.
07-25-2011 06:17:55 |
More by Spider889
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5 | $$$
Was pretty excited about making the trip over here, it was walking distance from our hotel. This review is based off 2 separate visits during my stay in Philly. At first it looks like a cool little bar, it's very long and narrow. The bar takes up most of the area of the front room with a few tables in the front and another few sets of tables in the back. There was a hostess at the front who doesn't really say much. A lot of Belgian beer paraphenalia all over the bar. Cool tin posters and plenty of empty bottles of rare gem beers. The place itself was very dark (dimly lit). When we went during the afternoon and sat at the bar it wasn't too bad, the lighting was ok and the crowd was people meeting up for a drink after work mostly. I got a couple of beers, my wife got a beer and we split an order of frites. The second time we went we had dinner, the music was so loud, we no exageration, literally had to yell to each other across the table just to have a conversation. The music was atleast decent music, but the volume was quite excessive.
The quality of the food and beer seemed pretty good. From what I could see they took care of their tap system pretty well. The beer was also usually pretty fresh for what we got. They aslo seemed to use quality ingredients in their food from atleast what was listed.
I really tried to look at this obectivly, but overall the service wasn't good, in fact, it was just bad. The first time we went it was ok I guess. Like I said we sat at the bar, but the bartender wasn't really that friendly. She was informative when we asked questions about the menu, but wouldn't go out of the way to elaborate and we really had to be specific. The only time she actually seemed friendly was when I left the tip and started to leave. The second visit was by far worse, we almost just left. As I mentioned before it was dark and very loud. There were a few open tables but I wanted to check with staff before just sitting down. The hostess wasn't in the front, so I kept trying to get the bar tender to look up, but she was a bit busy. I finally found a bus boy and I asked him if we could just sit at one of the tables. He said, "there's a hostess up front, go check with her" I said "no there's not" He just looked at me and walked away. We started to make our way towards the front just to leave but the hostess finally came to the front and caught up to us. She did apologize then seated us. The waitress was pretty much exactly like the bartender on our first visit. She would wasn't rude, but just wasn't pleasant either. But when we were leaving she went out of her way to thank us for leaving her a tip. So all in all I was extreamly dissapointed with the service.
The selection was certainly the best part of the visit. They have an expansive bottle list and a very carefully selected Tap list. Mostly Belgian style but a few IPAs and big stouts to keep everyone happy. I got to have some Abyss, their own special Sour, La Rulles Estivale, and some other Belgians since I was there. Very good selection, but the glasses weren't very big for each beer we got.
The food was pretty good, I wasn't blown away, but it was pretty tastey overall. We got some Frites the first visit, I got a chicken/apple sausage and my wife got a salad. Portions weren't really very big, but adaquate.
Value wasn't that great, not really big portions on food or beer. Which suprised me based on how many diffeent sized glasses they had. All the big ones were just upside down hanging from the bar. Also my wife asked for some goat cheese to put on her salad, they charged like $3 for a piece of cheese about the size of a sugar cube.
I'm glad I finally got to goto a place like this, but it really didn't live up to the hype. I wouldn't go back until I knew the tap list and there was something I knew I wanted (which is very possible). With so many great places to go in Philly to get a beer, I'd go somewhere else, but that's just me.
07-22-2011 21:57:10 |
More by AndyAvalanche
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
Monk's is one of the last of the east coast old guard beer bars and it shows. The bar itself is very dark and narrow. I would call it too dark, as it was impossible to read the label on the back of a bottle of beer, but some will probably disagree. The bar area is decorated with old beer bottles and breweriana.
The draft and bottle lists are fairly crudely printed and selections are signified as being out by being scratched out with a pen - that is on the draft list at least. The look of the bottle list makes you wonder if it has been updated recently but surprisingly all but one of the beers I ordered was in stock. The beer selection is good but definitely Belgian centered which of course is to be expected. I was expecting, perhaps wrongly, to find more American oddities but they did have plenty of russian river, lost abbey and some alesmith.
Service was friendly and efficient but indifferent which was fine with me.
Beers seemed to be poured correctly meaning the yeast was always left at the bottom of the bottle where appropriate but this could have been luck. They had a nice selection of glassware, however most of it seemed pretty hazy and not entirely clean.
Monks is worth a trip but it is definitely an older style of beer bar and so it can be a bit lacking in some areas.
07-09-2011 16:45:48 |
More by bpfishback
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5 | $$
After living on the same block as Monk's for a couple years, I've moved and can now review the place.
I've definitley had mixed experiences with Monk's, but would still recommend it to any beer geek.
The atmosphere is mixed. It's a very dark belgian beer bar, which is cool, when it's not slammed with customers. I don't recommend this place on a Friday or Saturday night, but great almost any other time of the week.
Service can range from exceptional to downright bad. I haven't seen any reason one way or the other, but I've had bartenders talk to me about beers and makre recommendations, and I've also had some that won't take the time to get something out of the cellar, or bitchy when serving me (could just be a bad day). Most of the servers are great, so don't let one bad apple ruin the bunch.
The quality and selection are top notch in the U.S. Glassware is clean and appropriate. Beers generally served at the right temp. You see things on draft you'd never see elsewhere, and the beer bible is definitely worth spending some time digesting. Tom's cellar is incredible, but most things don't make it on the list, but when they do, it's great (Fou Foune, Isabelle, etc.).
If you can, definitely got for a tap event (Mad Monday or other) or a dinner. These are what makes Monk's awesome. The dinners are pricey, but worth it. And on a regular day, the mussels are easily the best I've ever had. Nowhere else compares to the Dekonink or Ghent. HIghly recommend.
Overall, this is a bar worth visiting, and one of the best in the U.S., but just be aware of the potential risks. Enjoy!
07-03-2011 15:12:04 |
More by ChrisPro
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $$$$
So this is the holy grail of American beer destinations, or so it's been said. I've been twice, one visit was superior to the other, but I'll mention both visits in this review.
First time I visited was after the bus ran into the front and forced all visitors to enter in the same fashion as that of Prohibition. We were led down the back alley through the back door. A unique experience that I probably won't get again.
The selection the first time was spot on. I had never experienced Monks Flemish Red and what better than it on tap at Monks Cafe. I followed that with Consecration on tap ... good LAWD!!! The night was finished with 2009 750ml Lost Abbey Angel Share Brandy that was expensive ($40) but worth it IMO.
On my second visit, the first four beers I asked for were not available, even though the menu suggested they were. I was of course disappointed by this, but I found beers just fine othewise.
The food here is impeccable, top to bottom.
I can't complain about the place really ... the beer issue this last time was the only flaw that i can speak of, outside of that I love Monks.
06-26-2011 05:08:57 |
More by DoctorB2B
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$
I stopped by Monk's Cafe for the first time on my last trip into Philly. I had previously tried to visit but it was jam packed. It didn't take me long to figure out why the place was called Monk's Cafe...
A: The atmosphere at Monk's was pretty laid back. We were there in between meals, so the place was fairly empty. The inside is a little on the darker side, but still accommodating.
Q: The quality of the beers I had were great. I made a point to have both bottled and draught beer and neither gave me any problems.
Serv: The service was very friendly and attentive at Monk's. Our waitress was also pretty knowledgeable with beers and was able to give us some good description of different beers and what not.
Selc: The selection at Monk's is fairly extensive and focuses primarily on belgium beers. The selection is definitely weighted pretty heavily on the trappist style and the only IPAs and stout/porters are found on the American Beers list.
Food: We didn't get a full meal when we came in, but the food seemed pretty good. Our appetizers were good, but nothing really stood out. From what I could tell, the food was pub grub with some classier options.
Value: This is where Monk's took the biggest hit with me. Monk's is definitely $$$. The cheapest beer on the menu was $5-6 and the beers averaged around $10. If you are trying to sample a couple of beers, then Monk's might not be the right place, unless you can shell out $30 for 3 beers. There were some even more expensive beers going up to $50 for a beer. I'm not sure what the usual markups for craft beers in Philly is, but even the beers that I usually drink were at least $1-2 more than I was used to paying.
Overall: Overall I enjoyed my experience at Monk's Cafe. If you are a belgium beer/trappist lover, than you should definitely check out this place for their extensive collection. The service and quality were great, and the only knock I had on the place was their hefty mark ups on some of the beers. So if you can afford it, or you love beligum beers, then you should check out Monk's Cafe.
06-22-2011 16:08:24 |
More by bgildea
Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA