Midtown Happy Hour: The Three Monkeys Could Rock If The Food Wasn’t So Expensive

If you like to eat, chances are you like to drink (read: a lot of you are freakin’ lushes), so I thought maybe it was time to introduce a happy hour column to the site. Every week, our Happy Hour Correspondent posts about a different bar in Midtown that fits the Midtown Lunch mentality: unhealthy food, not lame (unless it’s lame in a cool way), and most importantly… cheap.

Whilst reading Grub Street earlier this week, I happened upon the name of a bar I hadn’t heard before. They covered an article about a hurricane benefit at The Three Monkeys (54th btw. Broadway and 8th), and although I wasn’t able to make it to the benefit, I thought I’d check it out since it hadn’t been featured in the Midtown Lunch happy hour column yet. It turns out The Three Monkeys (hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil, get it?) was once on Rivington Street in the Lower East Side. Yelp reviews for the newer Midtown location date back to early 2011, so it’s fairly new to Midtown.

I was hopeful as I approached. The bar has a decent deal on beer — the all day happy hour is $4 Yuengling and Lionhead drafts (16 oz) and there are also $6 wells.

The bar has a casual vibe with the kind of setup I like. It’s got an American feel with a verrrry long bar with 36 beers on tap; many of them craft beers. Like Blarney Rock Pub, the space can feel abuzz but airy at the same time because it’s not completely packed with tables. It has a bar area both upstairs and downstairs.

The bartender was wonderful and the service was fantastic. You get free tastes of beer if you like. The music was fun, with classics from every decade, and at a humane volume. There were plenty of flat screen tvs with sports of all kinds…

Maybe I’m just having the unfortunate experience of food prices going up before my eyes thanks to the Midwestern drought this year, but lately I’ve been shocked by my food tab during happy hour excursions. Or maybe I’ve just had the bad luck of choosing bars with no food specials lately. You see, I thought everything about The Three Monkeys was great… except the price of the food for what you get. Compared to other bars in Midtown, the value isn’t good at all. My friend wondered what kind of drug they were on, to have the balls to charge that much for the volume of regular bar food on the plate.

As much as I gripe, the wings were pretty good. We ordered hot, which wasn’t very hot at all, but still Buffalo style. The wings were heavy on the vinegar while still giving a hint of butter.

The blue cheese sauce had a fantastic flavor and was chunky in my favorite way — full of little tiny delicious bits of cheese. It also had some chives mixed in. So, the wings were great, but it’s just that they were fuckin’ 12 bucks for ten fuckin’ regular sized wings. Not cool.

Also on the overpriced menu were three tiny sliders. We liked that you could choose any combination of beef, lamb, carnitas, Buffalo chicken, or vegetarian… but it was $13 for three tiny sliders. We tried beef, lamb, and carnitas. The beef, with a touch of bacon and cheese, was meh; the lamb had a weird texture (too soft for cooked meat — more like meatloaf); and the carnitas were good but not amazing. And they were tiny. Not worth it.

Even more troubling were the $9 sweet potato puffs with IPA 5-cheese dipping sauce. These were just glorified tots. Yes, you could taste the sweet potato, but the texture was nothing better than the tater tots I deplored in middle school. The tots were totally uniform in size, so I knew they weren’t made in-house. After a little research, I found that that these are probably Alexia brand sweet potato puffs, and although I understand the costs of owning a restaurant in Manhattan are high, I’d say we got at least an $8 markup on that product. Were they inedible? No. Were they worth $9? Hells no.

My other problem here was not being able to stay away from the craft beers even when the happy hour special is on. With all sorts of great beer on tap, it was hard to stick with the $4 less interesting stuff. And the good stuff isn’t cheap. You can check out the beer menu here and see if it’s worth your time.

The +

  • I love trying new beer, and The Three Monkeys has many options.
  • I dig good service and nice bartenders.
  • The wings aren’t bad, and the blue cheese is excellent.
  • The happy hour lasts as long as the bar is open.

The -

  • How the hell can they get away with charging this much for food when so many other Midtown bars with a similar atmosphere are cheaper?
  • The craft beers, which are tempting, are pretty pricy.

The Three Monkeys, 236 W. 54th Street, 212-586 2080

1 Comment

  • I’ve eaten here once, for lunch, and at least it’s somewhat reasonable for a bar lunch. I always steer people here who want a “good beer bar by work” (I’m on the west side in the 50s) because, well, it’s unique in that regard.

    $12 for a half-pound of wings is a crime.

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