So many people have developed a fear of the flying monkeys from "The Wizard of Oz" that, according to the Urban Dictionary, a term has been coined for it: aeropetespithekosozophobia. Catchy, huh? But have no fear — the only flying objects you'll spy at The Flying Monkey Grill & Bar at the Hartford-Brainard Airport are airplanes taking off and landing.
The Flying Monkey balances the not-always-compatible roles of restaurant and bar pretty well, tilting a little more toward restaurant, with a slightly more upscale décor, a slightly raised stage solely dedicated to jazz, and a slightly more ambitious menu. Monday is soul jazz night, while other types of jazz may be offered on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Martinis and cocktails ($10) seem creative and well-prepared, many bearing aviation-themed names like Dirty Captain, Naughty Flight Attendant, Sunset Layover, The Cancellation and Lemon De-Icing. The Cherry Bourbon Crosscheck of Bourbon is infused with burnt orange rinds and Luxardo cherries, shaken tableside. Liquid desserts ($6 to $10), like a Lindbergh B-52 with Grand Marnier, Kahlúa and Bailey's, continue the aviation theme. There are also draft beers ($4 to $5), bottled beers and other beverages ($4 to $6), sakes ($14 to$18), and a substantial wine selection ($7 to $10, $26 to $80).
Apps range from $7 to $14, salads from $7 to $10, soups from $5 to $7, entrées from $14 to $25 and desserts from $5 to $7.
The wings (8 for $9, 16 for $18) are huge, fresh, juicy, crunchy and tossed in an irresistibly tangy, sweet and spicy Monkey sauce before being topped with a fried cherry pepper slice. An asparagus salad special ($11) is finished with goat cheese, dried cranberries, candied pecans and balsamic glaze. Jumbo scallops ($14) are blackened, pan-seared, bacon-wrapped, cider-glazed and served over a sweet-potato-and-apple slaw. The signature wedge salad ($9) with romaine lettuce, bacon, pecans, cherry tomatoes and housemade blue cheese dressing is generous.
The 8-ounce Angus monkey burger ($14) topped with cheddar, honey-jalapeño-infused bacon, fried onion straws and Cajun mayo comes with hand-cut steak fries, and there's a housemade vegetarian burger ($14) as well.
A favorite is the pan-seared, Panko-and-Parmesan-encrusted French-cut pork chop ($16), which comes with creamy mac and cheese with the same crunchy covering. An apple jetaway ($6.50) of warm cinnamon apple dumplings topped with French vanilla ice cream, apple granola, caramel sauce and whipped cream is a perfect finish.
At its bar and bar tables only, The Flying Monkey also offers an interesting happy hour from 3:30 to 6 p.m. There are selected $3 beers, $5 house wines, $6 cocktails and intriguing $3 to $6 food items, including those wings ($5), Bourbon-glazed sirloin skewers ($6), fried mozzarella ($5), fried shrimp in sriracha cream sauce ($6), a prosciutto mozzarella and tomato salad ($6), and numerous other treats. Saturday and Sunday brunch (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) look like a blast as well, with entrées ($11 to $15) like Pan Am Cakes ($11), an Air Fields Frittata ($11), a Preferred Check-In Breakfast ($11) and even a Non-Stop Mimosa Bar (one-way $5, bottomless $15).
Even if you're not traveling, The Flying Monkey seems a great place to layover a while or take a proper meal.
THE FLYING MONKEY GRILL & BAR, 20 Lindbergh Dr., Hartford, is open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; 860-726-4971; theflyingmonkeygrill.com