There’s a saying in Liverpool, “You’re having a giraffe,” which means “You’ve got to be kidding.” At this unassuming bar in Park Slope, you might walk in and wonder if the owners are having a giraffe, putting on a British pub for kicks in an otherwise unremarkable sports bar. Housed in the former Puppet’s Jazz bar, the Monro doesn’t exactly reek of Englishness the way that places with names like “The Spotted Pig” or “The Fatted Hen” do. There isn’t much in the way of décor that would tip you off, either, save for a few old prints of maps and ships on the walls. But the beer selection goes far beyond Boddington’s, and the crumpets, pasties and pies are quite keen.
You might call it authentic British austerity, this somewhat plain-looking, smallish bar. It takes a while to appreciate its dullness. But after filling up on a few bevvies (that’s Liverpool slang for drinks), the lack of shenanigans begets a pleasantly relaxed and cozy experience. The Monro is named after a pub in Liverpool, where I was told by a bartender that the owner met his wife. When the middle-aged, Liverpool-accented owner, seated at the end of the bar during a slow-starting happy hour, began to engage us in conversation, I couldn’t understand a thing he said.
There’s a happy-hour special of a pie and a pint for $10, which I gamely ordered. The savory meat pies, similar to the Aussie ones popularized by Sheep Station and DUB Bakery, make for a hearty bar snack. Although they’re made by a bakery “somewhere in Buffalo” and warmed up at the bar, the Monro’s potato “crisps” are imported from England. There are eight tap handles, which include the usual British suspects of Guinness, Boddington’s, Fuller’s London Pride and Old Speckled Hen, along with a rotating cast of international brews such as Newcastle, and Bellhaven’s Twisted Thistle IPA, a pleasant pairing for the pie.
If you’re thirsty for spirits, the Monro has some fun with house cocktails—to varying degrees of success. Better to stick with the most sensible ones, like the Whiskey Tea, with bourbon, soda water, sugar and mint. The Victorian Lemonade and Monro Limey are simple concoctions involving gin, citrus, and simple syrup; the English Bulldog uses tonic and marmalade, a combination that might remind you of cough syrup. A Scotch Collins is a fairly safe rendition of the Tom Collins, but with a splash of unnamed wheat beer instead of soda.
It’s not the best place to look for serious cocktails. But the bar curates a fine selection of imported bottles, including on a recent visit Wychwood’s Hobgoblin and Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. You can try some new favorites while watching soccer—sorry, football—on the not-so-big screen TV hanging over the bar. It’s no live jazz, alas, but a taste of authentic culture just the same.
Photo Courtesy The Monro