A one-stop party palace where Latin American food and drink reign supreme
Words Hannah Hopkins
MNKY HSE (pronounced Monkey House) is one of a few under-one-roof venues in the capital where you can wine, dine and dance the night away – no Uber or rain-soak walk across town needed. Having already played host to a post-Frieze crowd including Jay Jopling, Andre Balazs and Dallas Austin, it’s certainly the place to be seen in London right now.
The upscale South American fusion restaurant is on the former site of the iconic Dover Street Wine bar and is spread over two floors. Inside it has a dark, clubby setting where DJs and live music play throughout the day and into night. Upstairs is perfect for client lunches or early evening drinks, with an intimate bar and lounge area punctuated by a Murano crushed Chandelier, a 3D-honeycomb back-wall and leather-clad banquette style seating. Downstairs is a much larger restaurant, which gets rowdier as the night goes on.
Chef Pablo Peñalosa Nájera, formerly of the Four Seasons in Bogotà and the acclaimed Morimoto in Mexico City is the man behind the innovative menu of ceviche, tacos, tortillas and black cod, served up with a side dish of laid-back ambient house. It’s clear to see in the dishes that Nájera has re-visited his indigenous roots, combining traditional elements of Latin American cuisine with modern British seasonal ingredients. With that convivial spirit in mind, dishes are designed to share.
“Having played host to a post-Frieze crowd, it’s certainly the place to be seen in London right now.”
We sample the three-course ‘MNKY Business’ menu and tuck into the likes of sautéed papas (Colombian-style fried potatoes with a chimichurri sauce, fish tacos (hake tempura, guacamole and coriander), beef gyoza and sea bass with a hazelnut sauce. In keeping with the MNKY HSE ethos – ‘nothing is what it seems’ – some of the experimental signature dishes may well surprise and intrigue you. Whichever you choose, we recommend washing them down with pisco and mescal-based cocktails.
If a full-on evening meal is more your bag, head downstairs to where the bustling open plan kitchen overlooks banquette seating (adjustable to accommodate dancing and encourage table-hopping) and there are private booths built into artistically designed Vaults, perfect for larger bookings. There’s even talk of a ‘secret’ mirrored corridor which can be yours to discover.
With a palpable sense of fun and energy, this is the place to be if you like your food combined with a serious dose of personality.