THERE’S a photograph of a black ape hanging in Petersfield’s latest café, named Monoloco (or mad monkey to you and me).
There is, however, nothing mad about the premise of this quirky daytime café. Well, not unless you count having a vast collection of teapots of many shapes, colours and sizes on the green-painted dresser alongside mugs and jugs.
Hidden down a tiny shopping courtyard off the High Street, the characterful brick café covered in vines seems to be a secret yet to be discovered, judging by the few tables taken one lunchtime.
Which is a pity, as the menu isn’t like every other similar business. There are no sandwiches, baguettes or jacket potatoes here.
The ‘good honest food sourced locally’ changing menu has sensibly simplified costing, all dishes £7.
Ten dishes, including Portobello mushrooms stuffed with red onion, spinach, leeks, chorizo, bacon lardons, Boursin and goat’s cheese all come with a generous portion of Monoloco salad of mixed leaves, vine tomatoes, celery, courgette, cucumber, peppers and new potatoes.
In other words, you get your money’s worth.
Or choose from a chorizo stew; Tandoori chicken; goulash; Thai chicken; lentil and bean cassoulet; a Spanish tapas salad or an Italian gran antipasto salad, all ingredients getting a name check, the antipasto salad including Felino salami, Coppa Parma, Proscuitto Crudo, sun-dried tomatoes and feta.
Sit at a pale green painted table either upstairs or downstairs.
Beams, brick walls, candles, books and black and white photography are the sum of this place’s parts – plus the pic of the rather sane-looking ape.
My goulash was billed as chunks of beef in a red wine sauce of shallots, garlic, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, smoked paprika and fresh herbs with crusty bread and soured cream plus that compulsory salad, a bargain at £7.
Attractively presented in a rectangular white casserole dish, tender pieces of meat mingled with a finely-prepped sauce.
That huge salad was largely wasted due to its generous size and could have done with less-tough spinach leaves and riper tomatoes.
Cakes line the dresser, but my cupcake was crumbly and tasteless and topped with an odd chocolate disc.
However, despite the lack of a decent cupcake, this is a lovely addition to the town.
The food is far more satisfying than the usual carbs found in anywheresville.
Service is OK, if a little ‘youawrighthere, noprobs’.
My bill came to £12.50 including a glass of overpriced house wine, replacement of which wouldn’t go amiss.
Monoloco, Pages Court off the High Street, Petersfield GU32 3HX
Open: 8.30am–4.30pm, Tues-Sat
Food: Four stars (out of five)
Service: Three stars
Atmosphere: Four stars
Disabled access: Good
How to get there: Take the A3 to Petersfield. Follow signs to the High Street – Pages Court is off the High Street just after the Square. Restaurant is on the right. Park either on the High Street, in the Square or in the car park behind Waitrose.