Time to kick off a new series that's very dear to my heart: Coffee! I basically subsist on coffee, so if you are in need of a good cuppa, stay tuned. There will be a weekly installment of addiction coming your way!
Back in April, I was invited to attend the grand opening of Mono Coffee in Publika. It's owned by the same company that brought you Cosans Coffee that has basically exploded all over KL. The difference is that Mono (named after single-origin coffees, as opposed to the disease I guess) boasts an artisan concept with food to match.
[Mono Coffee Opened their Doors on 17th April, 2015]
Let me say at the outset that it's taken me over 3 months to get this review out because the opening was an absolute disaster. I will admit that the coffee there surpasses decent, and if it weren't for how the opening had gone, I could see myself heading there for coffee.
So, what was so bad about it? First of all, it was an invited review of bloggers and the mainstream media. One would assume that when you open your doors to the public, your restaurant will actually be complete. Alas, upon arriving at the establishment, we were met with workers still putting up decorations. I don't mean balloons; rather they were nailing artwork to the wall. Upon sitting down, there was a nail next to my foot which is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Truly, if you aren't prepared to open, push your date back a bit. From what I understand, this is similar to what occurred when Cosans opened its doors to the media as well. One would think The Brandker Group would have learned from that, but apparently not.
As to the decor, it's very kitschy and fits the Artisan theme well.
[The Coffee Bar]
It is certainly cosy, and very inviting in a masculine sort of way. With it's grunge interspersed with black feature walls, and deep, dark furniture, it truly feels like it is pulling you into the womb of coffee.
Mono has a personalised blend that they use for their coffee called, "Monian". It's really quite good in being a mix of Brazilian, Guatemalan and Sumatran beans. Each of these brings something to the full-bodied nature of their roast.
[For the Caffeinated]
There are also a number of offerings in terms of brewing that you can choose from. They have chemex coffee, aeropress, pour over, and of course, your espresso-based beverages.
Coffee is far from one-dimensional, and each of these brewing methods brings out a different nuance to the coffee being used. It's very exciting stuff!
We were treated to a bit of a pour over brewing session, followed by some latte art. Latte art is absolutely impossible for me to do, and I HAVE tried many times. I've learned that purchasing stencils is my best bet!
[Pour Over Coffee]
[Taste the Rainbow]
[Steamed Milk for Latte Art]
[Latte Art of the Skilled]
What was really quite nice was there we were given the opportunity to try our hand at latte art and both Carolyn and Elana volunteered!
[Check Out the Concentration!]
[Inadvertent 3D Art]
[Elana's Finished Artwork]
I am personally a fan of milk-based coffees, and that goes for the majority of the lot here as well. When milk is steamed correctly, it caramelizes the sugars in it allowing a bit of sugar to temper the bitterness of coffee. The combination is heavenly.
And at Mono, I tried 3 different hot drinks and the milk was steamed perfectly each time.
The Monian blend boasts a flavour profile of dried berries with grapefruit nuances and bittersweet cocoa flavours reminescent of dark chocolate.
Both the coffees were really good, and in the inclement heat of KL, some iced coffees were called for as well!
[Iced Latte & Hazelnut Latte]
I didn't try any of the flavoured coffees, but I was told they were good as well.
For those who aren't fan of caffeine, they have other drinks on their menu. Like this virgin mojito-esque drink for example:
[Iced Mint Drink]
And hot chocolate!
The hot chocolate was really good, too. It was deep and rich, with proper chocolate. I would imagine it would go rather splendidly over ice as well.
Boasting an artisan kitchen, there was an assortment of food paraded. What peeves me was that we were informed that we should pop by 90 minutes before the event started in order to attend the food tasting. I got there on time (taking an hour off work to do so), and waited 2 hours for the event to start, and a full 30 minutes before I got a coffee because they were ill-prepared.
Anyway...the menu is interesting enough, and we were shown some of their brunch options (served 'til 4 p.m. daily).
[Beef and Hashed "Benedicts": Corned beef, Grated potatoes, English muffin, Poached egg, Spiced Hollandaise sauce, Pea sprouts (RM 17)]
[Stack It!: Fluffy pancakes with crispy beef bacon Maple-peanut butter syrup, Roasted tomatoes (RM 14)]
[Bean Salad with Feta Cheese: Chickpeas, Edamame, Corn, Feta Cheese]
I can't tell you how any of these taste in their full-size, because we weren't even given the Beef and Hashed "Benedicts" to try, and the other two came in miniature to be shared among 4 people. I'm not sure how you share bite-sized food but we were expected to figure it out, it would seem. It wasn't even portioned out for us!
[Miniatures of Stack It!, Bean Salad and Ultimate Sandwich]
Like I said, the dish which was displayed was switched up with their "Ultimate Sandwich", which is a very strange departure from common sense. This was done with no explanation and was quite an exercise in discussion and questioning before we were informed that this was the case.
[Anis Doing the Honours]
[Elana Helping to Portion the Food Out]
The best of the lot was definitely the bean salad (which I can't actually find on their menu, so I'm a little stumped). It was bursting with flavour and a definite must-have if you visit Mono.
The pancakes were horrifyingly dry and practically inedible. This is probably because they were made in miniature and thus unable to maintain the fluffiness pancakes are meant to have. However, I can't actually vouch for how the full-size would fare. As for the Ultimate Sandwich, it was far from ultimate. Dry, stodgy and not lending itself to portioning at all, it was a disappointment. Of the 2 platters our table of 7 were given, only the bean salads were polished off.
Mono also has dessert and pre-packed sandwiches to choose from. As well as their very own cold brew.
[Desserts and Pre-Packaged Sandwiches]
[Brunch is Served 'til 4 p.m. Daily]
[Chicken Capsicum Sandwich (RM 8.90)]
[Big Breakfast Sandwich (RM 9.90)]
[Egg Mayo Sandwich (RM 7.90)]
[Smoked Duck Sub (RM 14.90)]
[Smoked Salmon Sub (RM 14.90)]
[Classic Cheesecake (RM 12)]
[Classic Chocolate Cake (RM 12)]
[Matcha Roll (RM 10)]
[Green Tea Raspberry Cake (RM 11)]
In an exercise in failed PR we were not informed that the event wasn't over when we left rather disappointed in the experience, and I can't tell you how the cakes they serve fared.
I would like to try their cold brew, because the beans are really good, but I have absolutely no interest in returning to an establishment that couldn't get their act together in such a spectacular manner.
[Cold Brewed Coffee (RM 12)]
Matthew Chong informed us that Mono is a brand they hope to compete with Starbucks with, and take international, but I think that's quite a stretch if their refusal to hold a proper launch hasn't been rectified.
[Matthew Chong - Founder and Group CEO of Brandker Group Sdn Bhd]
[Music to Grace the Opening]
[Our Gift of Coffee Beans]
We were gifted some of their coffee beans, and in brewing them at home in both cold brew and my French press, it was very good stuff.
It's truly a shame that they couldn't sort their kinks out before inviting people in because it's a place that has so much potential. I hope they've gotten better, but I would never enter the premises again because I have no interest in supporting a company that thinks nothing of having basic respect for the people they expect to promote their brand for them. If held at gunpoint, I'll go to Starbucks, thank you very much.