Funky Monkey, the surprisingly good cafe in the Mills 50 district, has opened a second location at Pointe Orlando, and it’s quite a departure from the original.
For starters, parking is not an issue. Pointe Orlando has a large parking structure for self-parking, and the complex has valet service available. The downtown location is mainly a catch as catch can situation, although valet service has been used in the past.
The other big difference is that the new spot is as inviting on the outside as it is on the inside. (The original is a bit, well, funky looking to anyone driving by, although the interior is pleasant and comfortable.)
The new FM takes over the space previously occupied by the Grape, a wine bar and retail operation that closed recently. Owners Eddie Nickell and Nicholas Olivieri replaced the retail racks with additional seating and generally spiffed up the room. It’s moody and dark -- two waiters dressed in black ran into each other while I was there -- but splashes of light help illuminate the dining areas. I especially liked the colorful blown glass pendants over the bar area.
The Monkey is participating in Orlando Magical Dining Month, so now is a great time to check out the new place. They’re offering a three-course menu for only 20 bucks, and seeing as how the entree I selected is $22 on the regular menu, I’d say this constitutes a pretty good bargain.
That entree was the pork tenderloin, which the menu said is bacon-wrapped. Instead, the medallions were topped with pieces of bacon and sauced with a soy and ginger glaze. A generous arugula salad and buttered mashed potatoes rounded out the plate.
One of the appetizer options allows diners to get a half portion of any of the rolls on the sushi menu. I selected the rainbow roll, which had tuna, salmon and avocado with roasted sweet red peppers.
For dessert I selected the Key lime pie, which was a pretty good rendition, especially with the real whipped cream served slightly off to the side.
There were some long waits in between courses, but I assumed that could be chalked up to the staff still figuring the vagaries of a new kitchen. And no one at any of the other tables seemed to be concerned with timing issues -- they were too busy sipping wine and having a good time.
The new Funky Monkey is at Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive. They’re open nightly for dinner, and lunch hours will be added soon. The phone number is 407-418-9463. Here’s a link to the Funky Monkey Web site, and this one will take you to the Orlando Magical Dining Month pages.