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Taps: 20 / Bottles: 218
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]
264 S 16th St
phone: (215) 545-7005
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
I am from out of town but stop into Monks every time I'm in Philly on business. I have always loved this place as their Belgian beer selection is awesome, many drafts and an incredible number of bottles.
Typically service is good. Today service was poor. With an empty bar at 4pm, back bar tables were "for food service only." I guess my 5 belgian drafts don't equal a basket of frites. Oh well. Also, after my 4th glass I asked for a small sample to decide on my 5th. I was told "we don't offer samples." This must be a change in policy as I have always been offered samples before. I'd like to think it was just the attitude of the bartender (Mullet man with black hair) and that Tom the owner has not let overall service slip.
I will be back, but certainly only because of the selection, not the service.
12-14-2006 04:34:20 |
More by Philby11111
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 5
THE GOOD: Monk's certainly lives up to its reputation. With at least 100 Belgian brews listed, they carried brands that I have never even read about. Their sour house beer is quite good, brewed especially for this place. There truly is no equal of Monk's and it is definitely worth a pilgrimage just to reassure yourself that places like this do indeed exist.
THE BAD: Sorry to say it, but size does matter. There's not even enough room in this place to change your opinion. Service is slow and grumpy (I had to retrieve my own menu from the hostess stand) and I didn't get to try the food. It is a wall-to-wall, shoulder-to-shoulder, can't-even-sit-down, muscle-your-elbow-up-to-take-a-sip kinda place. And this was all before 6pm.
After enjoying only a single beer, I had to step outside for a few minutes to take a phonecall. Honestly, I physically could not get back into the establishment and had to move on. A great place in concept and well worth a visit but what good is seeing the Gates of Beer Heaven if you can't reach it?
08-17-2003 06:54:27 |
More by assurbanipaul
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
First of all, you are going here regardless of how I rank this. Let's be honest. I loved going here, but, as a local, I picked an off-hour (around 6:00 on a Tuesday) because it get's insanely crowded. It has a back bar in a small room which was insanely crowded due to a Ommegang event. My wife and I had dinner in the front and it did not disappoint either of us. The food was really good. I had the burger with brocoli rabe. Really moist on a really nice bread. The beer selection isn't incredible, but it is really good. They have a beer bible which helps explain styles and tells you what they have. It is an incredibly helpful resource and would be great for a non-beer lover.
If you are coming with a non-beer lover, be warned. Long waits may test their patience and/or love for you. At the very least, warn them about what awaits them.
Update: Monk's is starting to put on cask ale from Great Britain. Now that's cool. Very good tap selection, including a beer made just for them.
Update: Well, it is time to seriously downgrade my review of Monk's. After coming here after work at 2:15 on the Friday before Memorial Day, 4 of us went to the back bar. We were told that we couldn't sit at the largely empty tables (not enough room at the bar for us). They were reserved for people ordering meals. And after some time standing by the bar, we weren't even acknowledged by the bar tender. We left and went to Jose Pistola's and had a fun time. The bartender there here's people left Monk's for them all the time. I don't want to go back to Monk's unless someone I'm with wants to go there. Bad service affects the vibe and it affects the perceived quality of the place.
Complaints about the service are not some aberration of a few malcontents. This problem is real.
05-05-2004 10:13:13 |
More by GeoffFromSJ
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 2.5 | $$$
This place is tiny, and by tiny I mean that if you stood in a bathroom stall you would have more room. The place is very long with two bar sections and both were mobbed. I could not even get to the back bar it was so crowded, and with that...
I found it very annoying that I could not find out what they had out at the back bar without going back there. The servers and waitresses were to busy to care and bring me a list for the back room and wading through the crowd was just not worth it. I recommend having both the front and back room tap selections at both bars instead of making the customer go to both.
Beer selection is the best that I have seen so far. So many bottles it makes your head spin with rare beers that you can get no where else that I have been so far. Monks Sour Flemish on tap was delicious. Other than that I had a couple of Belgians that I have not found anywhere else and they were VERY good. Our waitress seemed very knowledgeable about what beers were what and had recommendations which I love.
Service otherwise was about what I would expect considering how packed it was so no complaints.
The food was no where near as good as people had lead me to believe. I mean it was tasty enough, but average at best, the mussels were very tough but had a good taste. Their fries were soggy with oil.
This place is a great place to go and get really rare and hard to find beers. Other than that I will not be rushing back any time soon.
01-09-2009 16:56:23 |
More by Shaon94
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$$
stopped by Monk's Cafe again for the first time in probably five years. Hasn't changed much.
Great beer selection, high quality taps and bottles. Some stuff you can't get anywhere else.
Small, the place is the width of a row home. So if you don't have a seat at a table or at the bar, there is no place to stand without constantly being in the way of servers or other patrons walking by. The hipster bartenders seemed annoyed to have to serve you. Draft prices weren't too bad, but the bottle prices can be crazy. Double the price I can pay at a bar in the suburbs.
07-25-2011 21:12:56 |
More by jmdrpi
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
I must admit that I went here prior to being quite as into the beer scene as I am now, but I feel that I have to write a review anyway.
The quality of the selection is great. Everything was picked by someone who took the time to make sure they got great brew.
The selection is quite small (but so is the place) but certainly more than adequate even for the most discriminating BA. Only about 16 or so on tap, but a lot in the bottle. The selection is actually quite interesting and there was a lot of stuff that I was unfamiliar with. Also, the only macro beer on the menu was Sam Adams, which was refreshing.
All in all, I was very pleased with the beer itself. No complaints. The beer was served in correct, clean glassware and the pours were great. The food also is pretty good. Belgian food and damn good french fries. I had heard great things about the burgers, which I found to be only above average. Good food + good atmospher + awesome beer should = a helluva place right? WRONG.
The service was awful. Straight up some of the worst service I have ever had at a restaurant. To make a long story short, the server misinterpreted my order and ended up bringing me something more expensive than I had ordered, which I didn't realize until I got my bill and which I could have had no way of knowing that there even was a more expensive version of what I ordered (if she was unsure, she should have clarified with me prior to placing my order). When I brought it up with her, she basically said, "sucks for you." Well, it would suck for me, until I took the balance straight off her tip. So, I guess in the end, it sucked for her. To make matters worse, I was somewhat new to Belgian beer and was having a tough time deciding what to order, so I told her what type of style I was looking for (a brown strong dark ale) and instead she brought me a Chmay Red. I won't say anymore.
In any case, service like that would usually make me never return, but like I said, the rest of the place was so good, I am willing to chalk it up to just a bad server. We will see what happens next time.
10-21-2005 19:28:59 |
More by Lnedrive14
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2.5 | $$
During a trip to Philly, this was my #1 beer destination. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I went w/ people who were as eager to be there as I was, but I was catching a flight immediately after the visit and everyone was worried about being late to the airport. A 20 minute wait to get a table, the hostess let us stand twiddling our thumbs for several minutes before taking our name, telling us that it would be 20 mins, and letting us sit at the bar in the interim. The beer list is quite impressive, at least as far as Belgians go, although holy shit the draught list is measly. Not all that impressed with the rest of the beers. But seriously, this is a Belgian beer bar so I understand. I ordered a chocolate Fantome and it was about $20 w/ tip, I think. That's what I've paid for other Fantome beers at bars before, so I was expecting it. So many other great and obscure Belgian selections that I didn't have time to try. I asked the bar tender about Westies and it sounded like they had 'em sometimes, just not the day I was there. Bar tender was very sage and kind to boot, but the hostess and tables service were abominable. We all had burgers - they were okay, but for the fact that the meat covered only about half the surface area of the bun. And the fries: seriously, what's up w/ over cooked tiny little fries? Not good!
Moral: good Belgian bottle list... and that's about it.
01-25-2007 22:31:00 |
More by clickpush
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5
As a previous reviewer pointed out, Monk's is very busy. Located on 16th street, close to another favorite of mine, Mohogany, this bar is the place to be if you love great beer and a cozy atmosphere.
Small, dark, and loud, monk has kind of a poetry-jam sort of atmosphere. There is a cross section of most every type of people, and you'll get to sit close. Where we sat in the back bar, we basically sat at the same table 6 other folks.
The beer selection is incredible. Monk's carries more Belgian brewed beer than I've seen elsewhere. There is always a rotating selection of beers on draught, and there are numerous bottles to choose from. Good luck finding anything more mainstream than Stoudt's Pilsner.
The food selection is rather small, but there is a good cross section of food from sandwiches to burgers, to seafood. There is also a decend selection of vegetarian entrees.
Surprisingly, as busy as they were, the food came within only a few minutes, in my case it was the Portabella sandwich and fries. The sandwich was fresh, and the fries were hot.
Overall, Monk's is a nice place to go once in a while. The prices are a little high, but I guess with quality and selection comes a price. Definately a place to try when you are in center city Philadelphia, and want some place to get a good beer.
07-26-2004 12:46:09 |
More by psugrad98
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 1 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$
Thanks to my per diem job that got me out early enough to get to Monk's on Wed afternoon. I have been here a ton of times so I should add my two cents in. Easy access to public transit. Nice set-up for a bar. Don't neglect the bar in the back when things get crowded which happens most of the time. The beer selection & quality are outstanding.
But, the service is painful. I got a smile out of my waitress today which may have been a first for me. I have been there many times & I have rarely gotten even average service. I really love the food; I think that their frites would be my last meal on Death Row. Prices are in line with Center City. I don't recommend the place only b/c of the service.
05-16-2007 19:55:27 |
More by SkinnyElvis
vibe: 2 | quality: 5 | service: 2 | selection: 5 | $$$$
First, I'm not going to waste time repeating what most other reviewers have said already...the selection and quality of Belgian, Belgian-style, and even non-Belgian-style beers is tremendous. I honestly think that if someone has a problem with the selection, then that person, quite frankly, cannot be pleased at all. Let me instead focus on my 'atmospheric' experience as well as the service, as this is where I stray from the majority.
For a saturday night on Labor Day weekend, the Philly streets were understandably empty, but this place was PACKED. After waiting for 10min to get two seats at the bar, and then waiting another 10min before the bartender remembered to get our drinks, we were finally able to sit down and relax...if you could call it that. Since the bar area is very small, I found myself needing to shout over the din in order to speak with my wife...which is the exact opposite of what a Belgian beer cafe should be like.
Furthermore, it was annoying to continually have grad students and intellectual wannabe's pushing their way between us...to order a Chimay. And even further, I noticed that over a stretch of nearly an hour, most of the patrons to our left and right wouldn't even bother looking at the provided paper copies of the aforementioned great beer selection before ordering; they would simply default to Chimay, like the average American defaults to 'Bud Light'. As such I had no inspiration to strike up a conversation with anyone but my wife. Please don't misinterpret this; Chimay is an excellent beer, but ordering that, very readily-available beer, when you have access to so many other hard-to-find brews, is like walking into a gourmet ice cream parlor with 100 flavors and ordering vanilla. The culmination of this experience was when a grad student sidled up next to me while his date was in the restroom, spotted the bottle of Achel Brune in front of me, and asked, "Is that like Chimay?" Enough said.
As for the bartender, (a) she screwed up our order..twice, (b) I overheard her giving false beer descriptions to a few Chimay-ers, and (c) she wasn't friendly at all. The only reason why I didn't rate service a '1' was because I gave her a little leniency, given the size of the crowd that night.
In summary, I have mad respect for the fact that the Michael Jacksons of the world have been to this establishment and rate it highly. I would like to think that I had just hit it on a bad night, and I would certainly be open to giving it another shot...on an afternoon, though, as opposed to late-night. However, I think...and hope...that the picture that I have painted for you goes to show how TRENDY the whole Belgian beer movement has become with the non-beergeek crowd; to the point where it is maddeningly annoying at times.
09-08-2009 05:33:25 |
More by donniecuffs
Monk's Café in Philadelphia, PA