Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A lounge where you can lounge

Posted on Wed, Nov 12, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Release Date: 2008-11-12

I have nothing but good things to say about Mon Ami, the new lounge attached to popular mid-Broadway restaurant Mon’s Thai. For Alamo Heights, a neighborhood that is fairly dry in its tastes, Mon Ami is a like a fresh southeasterly breeze pushing against a wall of stale air. 

First off, Mon Ami is neither easily spotted nor categorized, which is both its charm and its challenge. It’s located off the street in an unusual ’09 shopping center that is a rare San Antonio example of Brutalist architecture. In addition, Mon Ami Lounge is situated in the back of a Thai restaurant; its name is French; and yet, the space, with its repeating arched ceiling, feels oddly … Moroccan?   

We were the only ones there when we arrived on a recent weekend and were happy to claim it as our own, but that’s probably not going to last long as word gets out. Olaf the bartender was an inspired host, both with his choice of proper lounge music (Thievery Corporation, Kruder & Dorfmeister, and Al Green, to name a few) and his imaginative drink selection. 

There were several great options for wine, but the specialty drinks were the most interesting. I was tempted to try one of the several martinis, particularly the Plum Saketini, but then my feet got cold, and I decided to go with a Jamaican mojito, which was not a bad choice. The mint was fresh and the dark rum provided a full but not overly sweet taste. My friend had a glass of pinot noir liberally poured by Olaf.  

The lounge area is a fairly small room with booths lining the walls and a smattering of chairs placed at various spots. It isn’t so much a place to be seen but to be heard. In other words, this is an excellent place for those on a first date or for groups who are happy to enjoy their own company.    

To clarify, Mon Ami Lounge shares very little in common with the recent trend of “ultra lounges” that have spread virally across the city. Those places too often create a false sense of exclusivity, and though they claim to be a place to relax, are in fact just the opposite, as everyone in attendance seems to be working very hard.   

Mon Ami Lounge transcends. It is what a lounge should be. The fact that it’s hidden in the back of a Thai restaurant only makes it better. An evening that begins with curry and ends with a martini? Everyone should answer that question for themselves.

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