Welcome to the Monkey House

Cheeky Monkey

You might need to bring along a Larousse Gastronomique just to decipher the menu (so much for the British influence). And you'll certainly need a glossary for the wine list, which offers some obscure vintages. Or just ask the waiter. Ours talked us into a California zinfandel called Mad Zin, which wasn't overwhelmingly spicy or a bad buy at $32. In fact the zinfandel was a fruity improvement over a strawberry tart dessert, which took its appellation a bit too seriously and needed to be sweetened. Ditto the banana beignets: The fritters contained some not-quite-ripe bananas that added a bitter note to the proceedings.

Speaking of bitter notes, let's chat about the bill. While entrées, which range from about $19 to $28, can be reasonable, appetizers hover around the 10-buck mark, and desserts come in at $8. So the bill can really add up, especially if you don't notice that service is included (at eighteen percent, and that tip takes into account bottles of wine). In the end Cheeky Monkey isn't only presenting us with a fresh look at food, it's being downright impertinent when it comes to paying for it.

Herb Stratford

Details

Open daily from 8:00 a.m. till 11:00 p.m. Lamb riblets $10.95.

Barbecued shrimp $11.95

Catfish meunière $21.95

Duck with café Cubano sauce $22.95

Strawberry tart $8.00

944 Collins Ave, Miami Beach; 305-534-2650. (in the Blue Moon Hotel).

When I called Cheeky Monkey to confirm their hours, I got the general manager at home. Looks like the restaurant, which closed down for a week after the grand-opening party to finish renovations, published his number on the menu instead of its own. Oops. Welcome to the club of misguided phone calls.

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