Coming up heads and tails at Mona's Fish Market & Restaurant
Do you wonder why some restaurants serve fish whole, with one beady little eye staring up at you from the plate? Does that seem strange, gross you out?
Craig Horkman, the general manager of Mona's Fish Market & Restaurant, explains.
"Think about how much better a bone-in ribeye steak is. The same thing applies to fish. Once you cut into it, you lose juices and flavor."
Mona's opened last fall in an old Ponderosa at 204 W. Layton Ave., and preparing fish with head, tail and fins attached is its specialty. Horkman will fillet the critter tableside for diners skittish about bones.
All of Mona's whole fish are fresh and placed in tubs of ice for customers to select the specific one that will land on their plate. On a recent day, the choices included American red snapper, yellow snapper, summer flounder, black sea bass, striped bass, dorade and loup de mer.
The restaurant will cook the fish any way the customer desires. Most diners choose the Mediterranean style –stuffing the fish with lemon, garlic, herbs and grilling it – or deep fried with a buttermilk batter, according to Horkman.
Prices fluctuate according to the market, but a whole fish dinner generally runs $13.95 to $24.95, depending on the species. The snapper dinner can cost up to $34.95, but it feeds two. Mediterranean rice and the vegetable du jour are included.
Mona's menu also features filleted fish more familiar to Wisconsin palates. Pesto grilled salmon ($16.95), dijon herb crusted tilapia ($14.95) and blackened mahi-mahi (($16.95) fall into that category. A buttermilk-batter fresh cod fish fry is available every day for $11.95, with a $1 discount offered on Fridays.
Appetizers include coconut shrimp ($8.95), Maryland style crab cakes ($8.95) and a crab scallion dip served with pita points ($7.95).
A pianist provides musical background for Friday diners, and Mona's offers all-you-can-eat snow crab legs for $26.95 on Saturdays.
The fish market-restaurant is a sibling of Mona's Turkish Shawerma House on Farwell Avenue, and it has some traditional Mediterranean fare on its menu. Falafel ($5.95), hummus and baba ghanoug (both $6.95) are offered as appetizers.
Entrees include chicken or lamb shish kabobs ($12.95 and $15.95) and braised lamb shank ($14.95). Mona's bakes its own pita and desserts, featuring three varieties of baklava ($3.25) and several middle eastern delicacies – kenafa ($3.95) and warbat ($3.25).
The restaurant's entire menu is available from 11 a.m. to closing time, which is 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. That includes sandwiches, which range from a tuna melt on an English muffin ($6.95) and a Philly cheese steak ($8.95) to a chicken or beef shawerma sammy ($7.95).
Mona's seats about 110 diners, and it's interior design and decoration have not completely obscured the Ponderosa look. Fish netting hangs from the ceiling and walls, and furniture pillows vaguely evoke the Middle East.
Horkman said the restaurant is seeking a liquor license. Mona's also sells its fresh fish to customers to cook at home.
That's fine, Tosa... More delicious fish for the rest of us.
This article says they are seeking a liquor license. When we were there we were told they didn't serve liquor because of their Muslim religious beliefs.
TosaJim you must've missed the line where they said they fillet the fish tableside for squeamish people like you.
Sorry, I don't want my dinner staring at me with big sad eyes...plus I don't want to deal with fish bones either.
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