Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cheeky Monkey Deli

Visited on Saturday, November 19th


Erin's Review
Cheeky Monkey Deli is definitely one of those places that I'm surprised we haven't been to earlier. I think now that I realize it is so close and tasty, we'll be back more often! We took advantage of Ben's parents offer to watch Annie for the weekend, and despite me having a pretty nasty cold, braved the elements not once but TWICE on Saturday to go out to eat. While Annie does enjoy eating out, our options are a bit limited with her in tow. Lately we've been loving places like Chipotle, smashburger, Longfellow and Highland Grill simply because Annie likes the meals on their kids menus and they are often loud (side note - I actually had NO idea Chipotle even had kids meals, but they do and they are reasonably healthy and cheap!).


Despite the fact that WE were without a toddler, everyone else at Cheeky Monkey had theirs with them! It was still nice to be able to know that we didn't have to deal with one, even if it did get a bit loud in there. So now we know - this place is definitely kid friendly, at least for lunch and brunch! On weekends from 10-2, they have a brunch menu in addition to their typical lunch menu. At night, it turns into more of a bistro. I'd definitely like to try this place for dinner as well.

It was a little before noon when we got there, so I was debating between brunch and lunch. In the end, my sweet tooth won out, so I went with the brioche french toast topped with berry compote and mascapone butter. This was divine - I got the smaller order and honestly think I could have polished off the large order myself! It didn't come with anything, and I had a hankering for some meat so I got bacon on the side. Sausage would have been my first choice, but that wasn't an option. I actually am not usually a fan of plain bacon, but theirs was a perfect mix of chewy and crispy, and not too greasy.

French toast with mixed berry compote


I also got a cup of decaf to sip on before and after I ate my french toast (I'm not a fan of hot drinks while eating a hot meal) since I'd already had my caffeine allotment for the day at home. The coffee was good, but they didn't bring out nearly enough sugar for me, as usual :)


I decided to leave the big camera at home and try out Ben's new iPhone 4s for photos for this review - all of these are without any editing. While obviously my DSLR does a better job, the iPhone camera has left my point-and-shoot camera in the dust, as long as there is sufficient light available!

All in all, I really liked Cheeky Monkey - the ambiance was pleasant and the staff was friendly. My food was delicious and I definitely would like to come back to try more!

Ben's Review
My parents offered to take Annie for the weekend, so Erin and I made use of our time without Annie by going out to lunch on Saturday, right as the snow was starting to move in.

Erin had picked Cheeky Monkey Deli and after I checked out the menu and location, I was on-board. I’m always more inclined to go somewhere close, especially because you knew the roads would be ridiculous with the first messy snow of the season (and that turned out to be true).


We rolled into the parking lot just a few minutes before noon and grabbed one of the many tables that were available. It wasn’t very full there yet, but it was heavily slanted towards families for some reason. Moms and dads with two or more kids mostly, so it was surprisingly hectic. I had not realized they had beer and wine and being that we had a day of absolutely nothing going on, I ordered a beer (Sweet child of vine) at 11:50.

Ben and beer

In spite of all the kids there, I enjoyed the ambiance. By this time there was a nice looking snowfall through the large windows out front and the decor inside is clean and cozy. I especially liked their blackboards as they had some art on them in addition to the menu.

Blackboard inside

Having looked at the menu before we went, I knew they had a Cuban sandwich and I KNEW that’s what I was going to order. I’m totally addicted to these sandwiches, they’re so f-ing good. The sandwiches don’t come with a side, so I reluctantly decided to add on some homemade potato chips, even though I knew I wouldn’t be that hungry for them.

Cubano and chips

Our food came out soon enough and I was pleasantly surprised at how hot my sandwich was, it nearly hurt to hold onto. It didn’t feel like a “heat lamp” heat either, it seemed genuinely hot off the press, and it was just as delicious with a great mix of pork, ham, cheese, mustard, and pickles. The homemade potato chips were just OK, they had a bit too much oil on them so some of them weren’t crispy at all. While they were called “salt and pepper chips”, I didn’t taste any pepper and hardly any salt. I prefer fries anyways and the sandwich certainly filled me up, so it was no big deal.

Being that it was just lunch, Erin managed to hold off on dessert for now :) We hung around for a bit and reveled in the fact that we had no schedule today. On the way out we snapped some photos with my phone (the whole review is from my phone, in fact) and then braved the 1” of snow to get home.

Service: Service was just fine, it looks like sometimes it might be counter service as they had a place for a line to queue up, but we received full service.
Food: Excellent Cuban sandwich and so-so potato chips.
Drinks: Beer and wine, with a decent list of each.
Ambiance: It was a mix of families and older couples today and not much in between. Other than some loud kids it was pleasant.
Convenience: They have a parking lot with a few spaces, which is great, otherwise you’ll be parking on Selby. Probably plenty of bus service too.

Cheeky Monkey Deli
525 Selby Ave
St. Paul