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Cape’s Monkey Bar serves up stellar fare

January 2, 2014
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The original Monkey Bar has been a well-known establishment in Cape Coral for many years. Purchased by Nico Bogert and Claudia Garcia in 2006, they wanted to keep some of the familiar flavor of the restaurant and the signature monkey theme for which it is known. According to Garcia, "We wanted to make it a little more upscale, but loved the location and the city of Cape Coral. We also recognize that Cape Coral residents look for more affordable and family-style dining, but still wanted quality food and drinks."

Bogert is a Certified Executive Chef who has studied at the American Culinary Federation. He has been a steakhouse owner for more than 20 years in Southwest Florida and was the former owner of Bogert's' Chophouse.

Garcia worked as manager of the Pink Shell Resort in Fort Myers Beach in addition to having an extensive background in hotel and restaurant management. Nico and Claudia have worked together for more than 20 years and wanted to open their own restaurant together in Cape Coral. According to Garcia, "We took over the Monkey Bar after it was closed with damage from Wilma for over a year. Our goal was to make it a little more upscale than a bar and grill like it was before. We kept the outside bar and entertainment area the way it was but renovated the interior to be a little more formal with cloth linens and a comfortable dining experience. We decreased the size of the large indoor bar to have more inside seating. The one thing we did not change was the monkey theme and have old and new customers bringing monkeys in as they did in the past."

Article Photos

Right, Nico Bogert and Claudie Garcia, owners.

Carol Orr Hartman

Garcia continued, "We have the best happy hour in town and the best drink prices with half priced liquor, house wine, well drinks. The longest happy hour we know around, ours starts when we open and continues until 8 o'clock at night. We offer live entertainment 7 days a week starting at 6 in the evening and playing until 9-10 (and sometimes later) on the weekends."

The Monkey Bar and Steakhouse offers a wide variety of food, for those looking for a great snack with their beverage or a fine dining experience. Starting with appetizers, you have 16 from which to choose. The biggest seller is the Bababoom Shrimp (crispy, tender shrimp tossed with a creamy, spicy Cajun sauce and served with toasted bread), the Tuna Appetizers (a fresh display of tuna seared rare, served on toast points, topped with wasabi mayo, sriracha and teriyaki sauce) or you can choose something as elegant as Escargot, served with garlic butter in puff pastry shell.

"Our soups are all homemade and usually a creamy soup," Garcia said. "People are always raving about our soups. Our New England clam chowder and crab pepper pot (creamy soup with crab meat, onions, peppers and tomato) are the favorites. When we make that it is a big seller."

Fact Box

Monkey Bar and Steakhouse

1428 Lafayette Street, Cape Coral, Florida

(239) 549-8800

Facebook: monkeybarandsteakhouse

Open 7 days a week from 12:00 until 10:00 Monday through Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1:00 11:00,

Sunday 2:00-9:00.

There is a wonderful selection of seven salads. Bestselling is the ahi tuna salad (seared rare tuna on a bed of greens with balsamic dressing and topped with sriracha, teriyaki and ginger). The Black and Blue Salad is also a big seller (spring mix topped with Monkey Bar's famous blackened sliced prime rib and blue cheese crumbles and served with a house honey balsamic dressing).

There are 15 choices in the wraps, sandwiches, Paninis and more section.

The Grouper Panini (blackened grouper served on a sundried tomato focaccia bread, topped with sliced tomatoes, provolone cheese and balsamic mayo), the Blackened Grouper Wrap (blackened grouper tossed with tartar sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and mixed cheese), and the Prime Rib Sandwich (thick slices of Monkey Bar's famous prime rib, topped with peppers and onions and served on a French baguette) are best sellers.

Knowing that with a popular bar goes with burgers, Garcia and Bogert recently expanded their burger menu up to seven choices. The biggest seller is the Cheze Cheze Burger (8 oz. Black Angus patty topped with mozzarella, cheddar, American and provolone cheese). The simple Mushroom and Swiss Burger (8 oz. Black Angus patty topped with mushrooms and Swiss cheese) is also a big seller.

Monkey Bar's Seafood, Pastas and Poultry menu offers a wide selection of 10 tasty options. The Panko Snapper (local red snapper filet, dipped in panko crust, baked and served on a bed of red potatoes, bacon, tomatoes and red onions topped with Hollandaise citrus Beurre Blanc) has been their biggest seller. Another favorite, which boasts a beautiful presentation, is the Salmon and Crab Wellington (baked salmon and crab meat covered with puff pastry in a fish shape and served with Hollandaise Sauce and served with Basmati rice). Poultry lovers' favorite is the Chicken Marsala (chicken breast topped with mushrooms and marsala wine and served with mashed potatoes).

Garcia is proud of their steaks.

"Our top sellers are our prime rib, which is aged 12 oz. or 16 oz. prime rib slow roasted in rock salt, served with au jus and freshly grated horseradish it is a big seller and is really good. We offer it as a special on Saturday night. Our Filet Mignon Wellington is another favorite beef entre. A tasty center cut filet mignon, topped with a mushroom and onion pate and wrapped in puff pastry and baked."

Desserts are not forgotten if you have any room left.

The fried ice cream and Banana Lumpia are big sellers. Bananas are wrapped in pastry and deep fried until crispy. Served with ice cream, caramel sauce and whipped cream, this is decadent delight. Bananas Foster is another fun dish for two that is cooked tableside.

Chocolate lovers? Try the Chocolate Tower cake. It is "huge" and consists of a nine-layer cake layered with moist chocolate cake and chocolate ganache topping. It is really a dessert for two drizzled with chocolate sauce and whipped cream and ice cream.

"One of our logos is that it is 'a silly name with serious food' one of the biggest things about this location is that when you drive by, you think it is an outdoor bar, but are surprised when you walk into a more formal dining room where you can have an intimate dining experience," Garcia said. "We do a lot of celebrations, from birthdays to weddings. The decorations are bamboo on wall with murals of monkeys and stuffed monkeys everywhere. The regular customers have kept us in business and word of mouth has been really good with 50 percent regular customer base and 50 percent all the new customers who then become our regulars once they come and experience the Monkey Bar and Steakhouse."



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