A darkly gaudy Latin American restaurant and bar spread over two floors in the heart of Mayfair. Generous sharing plates, piled high with spicy meats and citrus sauces, are theatrically placed on bark and earthenware pots. Dimly lit with a bassy soundtrack, Mnky Hse is an expansive watering hole behind a discreet facade, and takes a holistic approach to an evening’s entertainment. The venue is part restaurant, part bar, and as the hours linger on, part nightclub too.
Where? 10 Dover Street, Mayfair, W1S 4LD. On the site of the old Dover Street Wine Bar. The upper floor is more mismatched-casual – a simple wooden table, a rounded leather booth, a couple of high-backed armchairs – overlooked by a DJ booth and a mysterious and solitary wooden chair that looks as if it’s been carved out of a tree. Downstairs, however, things are more plush, with sociable tables uplit by ambient lamps. Party animals swing by Thursday to Saturday nights, but City types after a more relaxed time will settle down for lunch during the week.
Who? This is Pablo Peñalosa Nájera’s first UK fiesta, having formerly headed up the kitchen at the Four Seasons in Mexico City. With flavours like mango and aguachile mingling with brussels sprouts and wild mushrooms, it marries traditional Latin American cuisine with British seasonal ingredients, and throws in a few Japanese curveballs such as shishito peppers and miso chillies.
Order this... There are two lunch menus, the lunch menu and the business lunch menu. The business lunch menu offers three to five sharing plates from £24.50 to £39.50 in slightly smaller portions. If you really mean business, you’ll go for the main lunch menu of either four or six dishes.
The black cod marinated in eye-watering miso chilli is the star of the show, sticky and savoury all at once, but for something light and fresh, the yellowtail aguachile served almost raw in a tart passionfruit juice ticks all the boxes. Brussels sprouts are roasted into a decadent gratin, layered with a parmesan breadcrumb rather than cream, and the dessert menu uses fruits like guava and coconut to inject carnival spirit into classics like cheesecake and chocolate fondant.
The booze: Make sure you have a good browse of the diverse cocktail menu on offer, which valiantly continues the Latin American theme with carefully chosen highlights of mezcal and pisco.
There’s an extensive list of drinks to choose from here, including the house’s signature cocktail, the Blue Monkey: Johnnie Walker Blue Label scotch stirred with chocolate syrup and cloudberry liqueur. For some reason it’s served with an electric cigar, which is either very cool or very not. For a more thematically appropriate digestif, there’s a mezcal variation on the espresso martini.
Any monkeys? Plenty. Plastic ones sit expectantly on top of your napkins and monkey faces materialise subliminally behind the bar. If baboons aren’t your bag, there are gilt-framed paintings of tattooed ladies and leopards in smoking jackets to puzzle over, too.
Need to book? Call 020 3870 4880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make a booking. The herds arrive in the evening, so lunch is easy to get into.
The verdict... A bold space that makes up for its missing vowels with flavoursome dishes that feel at odds with traditional Mayfair fine dining. If you’re looking for a late lunch spot that has the potential to come alive in the evening, Mnky House’s atmosphere and varied menu will be compelling enough to entice you to return after dark.
One more thing... A series of private booths have been built into iron-framed, vintage vaults downstairs. They’re perfect for large bookings and private parties.