In recent years, downtown Fullerton has been quietly adding notable restaurants, bars, and anything in between. I don’t get to Fullerton much, simply because it isn’t close to me, and battling the 5 and 57 freeways isn’t something I enjoy doing on a weeknight.
Recently, I visited Pickled Monk to try its regular, as well as brunch (available on weekends only) menus. Why did Pickled Monk garner a drive to Fullerton, you might ask. Well, the reason is Chef David Fune — I’ve been a fan since his days at Splashes at Surf & Sand Hotel in Laguna Beach.
Pickled Monk is undoubtedly, a gastropub. It offers a huge array of beers, cocktails, paired with a creative menu. The back room is an interactive tap room where visitors are invited to sample, and pour their own beers, according to their tastes. Pour as little, or as much, of any beers you like, and pay for only what you pour. Alternatively, the cocktail list offers both classic and unique libations for those do not prefer to imbibe in beer.
The menu is a mix of heavier dishes meant to soak up the alcohol. I usually shy away from foods like these because I’m not a huge drinker, and I don’t particularly like the feeling of rich, heavy foods. What definitely stood out at Pickled Monk are the variety of vegetable dishes on the menu, which means I can indulge without having to eat meat — no, I have not turned vegetarian!
Because there is so much to introduce to you, I have separated this post into two parts — the first part will feature the regular menu, and next week, I will post part two with the brunch menu items.
Pickled Monk’s menu is served during both lunch and dinner service. There is a blackboard situated by the bar, in the corner, featuring the daily specials. The restaurant is fast casual, so you order at the middle console/hostess area, before you situate yourself at a table.
My friend and I are both huge vegetable fans, and we are so happy to see quite a few veggie items on the menu. We started with Grilled Veggie of the Month from the black board. Charred green beans are tossed with garlic, tamari, crispy kale, and sprinkled with furikake. The flavors are amazing, although, I would have liked a little more crunch to the beans.
Brussels Sprouts ($7.99) is tossed in bacon gochuchang jam, which lends a savory, sweet and spicy to each bite. I love the Point Reyes blue cheese, which adds another level of savoriness to the mix.
Crisp Portobello Fries ($8.99) is one of the best I’ve ever had. Usually, portobello fries tend to get soggy rather quickly, but the ones here remain crispy throughout. The coating is light and crunchy, while the mushroom remains moist and succulent. Tossed with fresh herbs, garlic, and Asiago cheese, it is so difficult to stop once you’ve started. There is a white BBQ dipping sauce served on the side, but quite frankly, they were so good on their own sans sauce.
I’m such a sucker for wings, so when I saw Spiced Honey Wings ($11.99) on the menu, there was no doubt it was going to land on our table. These BBQ glazed wings are sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds, and served with two sauces: blue cheese dressing and dill ranch dressing. I’d have to admit, the dill ranch sauce was absolutely fantastic. I’m not a ranch dressing fan, but the addition of fresh dill kicked this up several notches. The blue cheese dressing was tasty, but overpowered the flavor of the wings. Dill ranch dressing all the way! It also comes with a side of their fabulous house-pickled vegetables. It’s worth it to order the wings JUST for the pickled veggies!
When West Coast Poke ($9.99) arrived at the table, I was a tad skeptical. It wasn’t the prettiest poke dish I’ve ever laid eyes on, but I was completely sold after the first few bites. The cauliflower garlic rice was a fantastic idea, giving the mouthfeel of rice, without the added carbs. I loved the varying textures and flavors — and there are SO many — including ahi, avocado, Farmer’s Slaw, crisp kale, ginger-cilantro sauce, and sesame.
I had asked about the Fish & Chips ($15.99) before ordering because I’m rather particular about it. I took a chance and it turned out to be the right choice. Hoki fish is battered and fried to perfection. The exterior is crunchy without being heavy or cloying. There is just enough batter to hold the fish together, but not too much that it was overbearing. The accompanying remoulade is lovely, but I preferred just a squeeze from the lemon wedge, before eating. The seasoned fries are very good, and hard to resist, but it is the side salad tossed with malt vinegar that was the surprise. I love how it helped cleanse my palate between bites of fish. Simply genius!
For those of you looking to pair something with your beers, then look no further than the Bacon-Wrapped Cheddar Bratwurst ($12.99), a mother of a “hot dog” complete with jalapeno, green kraut, Monk mustard, tomato, grilled onions, pickles, on an artisan pretzel roll. It is not easy to bite into this. I had to cut mine up in order to get a bite with everything on it. To me, it is what happens if a Mexican bacon-wrapped hot dog, and a German bratwurst had a baby. Absolutely insane, but in a VERY good way. Share this with a friend — several friends — because you’ll definitely want to try it. I love hot dogs/sausages, so I loved it. If that wasn’t enough, it is served with Skinny’s garlic fries — shoestring fries!!
And there you have it. Pickled Monk is not only a haven for beer and cocktail lovers, but for food lovers as well. To be honest, I didn’t have any doubts that the menu would be anything but stellar with Chef David Fune at the helm. My only complaint? They definitely have to open a location closer to me!
Stay tuned for a post on the brunch menu in the following weeks.
101 N Harbor Blvd
Fullerton, CA 92832