Casa Mono ("Monkey House") is one sweet moneymaking machine. It launched in a cramped corner space on Irving Place that had brought slow death to a succession of previous establishments, three in the last five years. The two-person tables are tiny, and so are the plates. Though the average per-dish cost of $9.41 seems reasonable, if you eat your fill, with one of the seductive Spanish wines that occupy fully three-quarters of the menu, the cost of a meal for two is likely to run $150 or more. Our efficient waiter gleefully boasted—in a manner that I thought too practiced in its conspiratorial tone—"You can probably get by with three dishes per person, but I can easily eat at least four or five," thereby establishing a theoretical lower limit for occupying the real estate and also discouraging you from dropping in for a snack. Moreover, Mono has perfected the art of turning tables. On my first visit early one evening a companion and I plowed through eight dishes in three separate flights of two or three plates each, plus dessert and coffee, and made it out the door in a record 55 minutes. There's no distinction between courses, so any dish can arrive at any time—a great boon to the kitchen. It's a formula other restaurateurs... More >>>