Restaurant Review: Mona
If you’ve ever reached over and stuck your fork in a client’s plate, it might have been the final time you did business with that particular client. Can shared plates and business dining work together?
Shared small plates appeared on the dining scene years ago and now have almost taken over. The idea is fun: Instead of a plate for you and a plate for me, together we order four or five dishes, mixing up pastas and meats and veggies. In reality, it leads to confusion about how much to order—and who gets that last scallop.
The clubby atmosphere, the lamb burger (at any size), and that buttery artichoke (which is actually nicely shareable, if you’re so inclined).
Just about everything we tried needed more seasoning. Skip the fries and the polenta altogether. And order for yourself, rather than to share.
Shared plates are understandably a tough sell for business dining. Yet here we have Mona, trying to bring it to the heart of the business district. Mona is on the ground floor of the Accenture tower in downtown Minneapolis and has an interior that is 100 percent made for business, with a clubby feel, dark wood, and deep, private booths. Its patio, set well off the sidewalk, is already a favorite happy hour spot for downtown workers.
So how do you accomplish business dining at Mona? I recommend dropping the “shared” aspect and embracing the “small” part of its menu.
Consider the lamb burger. It’s truly delicious, and comes in two sizes, roughly the diameter of a golf ball or a baseball. There is no way a burger of any size is elegantly shareable; the smaller of the two might please your cardiologist, but it won’t fill you up. Pair it with a salad of hearty cannellini beans and baby greens, however, and you’ve got lunch.
The halibut wrapped in pancetta looks like a full-sized composed dinner, Shrinky-Dinked down to hobbit size. Two ounces of tender whitefish wrapped in crispy pork (this successful mix of textures is quite a feat) can only be shared if it is halved with Solomon-like precision. On the other hand, pair it with a half-artichoke swimming in tangy butter, and you’ve got a nice meal for one.
The trick here is to embrace your inner curmudgeon and order traditionally, no matter what the menu urges you to do. And keep your fork on your own plate.
333 S. Seventh St., Minneapolis