We visited A Man and His Monkey on an extra-ordinary windy and cold day in June. Though allegedly outside of the peak COVID-19 season now two and a half years down the track, I made the decision to forgo the warmth of the claustrophobically packed café interior and sit us al fresco next to a non-functional gas heater instead. Some would later call this a mistake, but I would argue that the real mistake was that same person not bringing her own jacket and taking mine instead.
I really enjoyed this grilled salmon salad ($18.50), which truly exceeded all expectations and was exactly what my mouth needed at the time. The salad was a symphony of freshness, primarily composed of the flavourful herby green plants mint, parsley, coriander, spring onion, and a small amount of dill. There was no boring, garden-variety iceberg lettuce in sight, and as such each single leaf provided its own unique flavour. The grilled salmon was able to retain its presence despite being pulled into flakes, with just enough spread out throughout the greenery to exert a umami and fatty mouthfeel. The dried cranberries, another master stroke, provided a textural as well sweet tasting reprieve from the green in just enough quantity, and just when you thought the freshness might get too overbearing the bed of crème fraîche would swoop in with a save.
The poached egg, a $3 addon which I didn’t realise wasn’t part of the salad until re-reading the menu just now, was also excellent.
The men and monkeys of this café are masters of ratio, and all elements of this dish were in the right amounts in perfect harmony. There’s literally nothing that I could imagine that could have made this salad better, except maybe if I had had my jacket back.
Though I loved the salmon salad I didn’t really like the hummushuka with slow cooked lamb ($28). Not being the biggest fan of of shaks to begin with, this particular shakshuka appealed to me even less than normal, with a tomato sauce that was sweeter than usual, a very standard bread, and unfortunately quite unconvincing lamb for the $8 supplement atop the $20 base price. The one redeeming factor of this shakshuka were the again excellent eggs. Having said this, my partner, who chose this item from the menu, did enjoy this dish.
A soy cap for $4.40 is refreshingly reasonably priced these days!
I don’t think I’ve ever stanned for a salad this much in my life. Make sure to make your partner bring her Eastern Suburbs standard-issue North Face down jacket or pay the price.
A Man and His Monkey
149 Clovelly Rd, Randwick NSW 2031
(02) 9398 3900