The Grub Spouse and I spent part of last weekend at the Second Bell Festival at Suttree’s Landing, but not before first making a dinner stop at Frothy Monkey on Gay Street. The Knoxville location − a recent expansion of the Nashville-based chain − offers both front-patio and inside dining; we chose the latter.
Although Frothy Monkey’s identity is primarily that of a coffeehouse, it also offers food service for breakfast/brunch and dinner. The Spouse and I had just missed the cutoff for the former, so we got happy with the respectable number of dinnertime listings.
Sandwiches are actually served all day, and that’s where I concentrated my attention. The Royale features turkey and Swiss cheese, while their grass-fed burger as well as sandwiches made with salmon and pastrami cover a broad range of tastes. I got the PMP ($12), made with prosciutto, mozzarella, provolone, lettuce, tomato and basil mayo and served warm on sourdough bread. The default side is tortilla chips with salsa, and that’s what I stuck with. Other side options are a cup of soup, a cup of fruit and herb-roasted potatoes.
Salads are also served all day, and those include a kale Caesar, the Gail (mixed greens and grilled chicken breast) and the Bungalow, an all-veggie creation. Another dining option is their pair of boards, one featuring artisan cheeses and the other a classic charcuterie array that features meats, olives, dried fruits, house-pickled okra and more.
The Spouse ordered one of the dinner entrees, the salmon and quinoa ($15). The pan-seared fillet is served over chilled Mediterranean quinoa along with red onions and sun-dried tomato pesto. Other entrees include shrimp and grits, chicken and gnocchi, pork barbacoa and Huevos Rolandos.
I ordered a local IPA ($7) to enjoy during my wait, and since we were at a coffeehouse, The Spouse obliged in covering that base. Believe it or not, I have never had a cup of coffee in my life, and I’m not about to start now. Frothy Monkey serves a wide range of hot and iced coffees, including seasonal blends, but The Spouse ordered one of their signature drinks, the Monkey Mocha ($5.65). The Spouse requested it hot and decaffeinated, but it was actually delivered on ice, even though the order ticket clearly indicated that it was supposed to be hot. In the interest of time, The Spouse drank it as is. Unfortunately, the iced iteration doesn’t deliver as much actual coffee because of the cubes, but The Spouse found it tasty nonetheless.
Grub Scout:The Chow Hall offers tasty comfort food in a military-inspired setting
Previously:Blackberry Farm Brewery in Maryville offers pricey pub grub | Grub Scout
That was one of a few incidents of inconsistent service that evening. For starters, we had beenated for several minutes before a server finally came out to us, and as it turned, we weren’t officially her table. I believe she was covering for a server who was on a break or otherwise indisposed upon our arrival. Otherwise, it’s fair to say that the attention we received was adequate, including follow-up from our previously AWOL server and even a random check-in from the bartender.
The food passed muster too. My sandwich fared well in the taste department. I loved the combo of prosciutto and melted cheeses, while the warm, fresh sourdough bread was heaven. My only dings on this sammy would be that the bread crusts were tough to bite off and chew, and I was disappointed in how little meat they sandwiched between the slices. The tortilla chips were standard restaurant issue but the salsa tasted fresh and not overly sweet.
The salmon was an all-around treat, from the tender, flaky and robustly flavored fish to the vegetable-enhanced quinoa. Desserts include flourless chocolate cake, tiramisu and a vegan cherry crumble bar, but we’d had our fill and didn’t want to overstuff ourselves before heading to Second Bell.
For the record, Frothy Monkey obtains ingredients from a host of regional farms and vendors, and its breakfast/brunch menu includes a bagel-based sandwich, avocado toast, a potato-and-collards-based hash topped with andouille sausage, loaded biscuits and chorizo gravy, French toast, omelets, grits and more.
Frothy Monkey should be a solid downtown option for coffee lovers. The spacious interior has ample seating on two levels, and the combination of abundant caffeinated (and decaf) brews, along with a full bar selection and all-day dining options make it a destination worth trying.
address: 419 S. Gay St.
full bar service
hours: 7 am to 9 pm Wednesdays through Fridays; 7 am to 3 pm Saturdays and Sundays.
This new downtown coffeehouse and restaurant serves tasty grub morning, noon and night and backs it up with a generous selection of coffees, teas and alcoholic beverages.