Since the restaurants are connected and share a kitchen we were able to order a flight of all the beers on tap from Bastone plus the 2 seasonal varieties.
We had a wonderful time talking to Executive Chef, Robert Young about his cooking style, where he shops for supplies, and why he thinks Royal Oak is ready for a “nose to tail” menu. We also touched base on growing up in Britain and bringing that style of cooking here to Michigan and incorporating local ingredients and flavors. In talking to Chef Robert, we learned he wants to eventually create a “nose to tail” menu for Monk Abbey. “Nose to tail” incorporates all parts of the animal for cooking and eating.
With 'nose to tail' in mind we tasted a few of the new items on the menu: the Sausage Trio served with a duck fried croquette and house made mustard, Fried Cod Waffle sandwich, with mammoet and iceberg, and finally, Beer Braised Oxtail which was cold smoked and braised with beer and root vegetables.
Since the food was so fabulous we are going to break it down a little bit for you. Hopefully we will entice your taste buds to stop in for a visit.
Lets start with the sausage trio, it was cooked to perfection with a grilled crunchy skin and the inside nice and juicy. The croquette was fried in duck oil and created a delicious flavor combination with the spices mixed in with the potatoes. I tend to be a bit of a mustard snob and the house made mustard was delicious, Abby and I ended up just eating it alone because it was so good. Abby said, “The mustard was great on the bratwurst and even great on the fries!”
Next is the Fried Cod Goujons, which as Chef Robert said “you need at least one good fish dish, just like you need a good vegetarian dish.” The fish was light and flaky and I cannot say enough words to describe the mouth watering waffle wrapped around it. So light and fluffy with herbs and spices mixed in. Once we tried this dish I told Abby that I was going to be addicted and we would have to either drive down to Royal Oak more often or move. She laughed and agreed everything we tried was worth coming back again and again.
Finally we tried the Beer Braised Oxtail. The oxtail is cold smoked where the meat is smoked without exposing it to heat, usually at a temperature below 85oF (30oC) This type of process can take days or weeks to complete and creates a complex flavor development. Fortunately, Chef Robert is up to the challenge because it also requires careful monitoring. Joe said, “The sauce is really wellspiced and the meat is flavorful.” We all determined that every time we came to Monk, we would have to order the Beer Braised Oxtail because the dish exemplified the “nose to tail” concept.
We discussed Chef Roberts use of Bastone Brewery beer in both the dishes he creates and in using them for flavor inspirations. He uses the Nectar des Dieux Triple in the sauce for the Beer Braised Oxtail. Our top 3 favorites were the Monumental Blonde, an Americanstyle light beer with soft malt and hop flavors; the Dubbel Vision, a Belgianstyle amber brewed with candisugar and dried dark fruits; and the Main Street Pilsner with deep honey notes.
Everything we tried was mouth watering and worth the trip from Lansing to Royal Oak. We can't wait to come back and try the fall menu and talk more to Chef Robert.