Bleu Monkey Grill

Serving up fusion favorites in a casual atmosphere

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Photography by Richard Rasmussen

3:30 p.m. on Saturday… Razorbacks won another game!

Bleu Monkey Grill is one of the premier casual full-service restaurants in Hot Springs. The business is now more than five years tenured, and has proved itself worthy of our ongoing return business. The menu at Bleu Monkey is eclectic, and the owners strive for perfection on each item served. Bleu Monkey was founded and is owned by experienced restaurateurs Oswaldo and Alisha Oseguera, and Joey and Mayra Oseguera-Godoy, and their children came up with the restaurant’s unusual name. I think it may be fun to say you are in the monkey business.

The atmosphere at Bleu Monkey is faultless for a casual restaurant. There is a bar area with its own seating that has seven televisions, including an extremely large screen. There is also a nice outdoor dining area outside the bar. You can get full service with a full menu while sitting in the bar. The dining area is delineated by three partitions with lots of booths, dark wood, low and neon lighting. This is not formal dining, having no table linens or candlelight, however, I feel they should consider adding oil lights on the tables in the evenings. Bleu Monkey Grill is a very popular lunch spot, and continues to gain ground with their evening service.

bleu3The restaurant doesn’t monkey around with the depth of the menu. There is something for everyone here, including one of the better salad selections in Hot Springs. When you are seated, you will be immediately greeted with crusty bread and a basil and garlic dipping sauce. This oil based dipping sauce is excellent! For lunch, I usually order a Monterrey or Cobb salad from the large selection. The Monterrey is sliced grilled chicken with greens, black beans, cheese, sweet corn and tomato. This is accentuated with tangy cilantro dressing with the exact amount of cumin.

The Cobb salad is chopped with chicken breast, avocado, blue cheese, bacon (leave off for healthier version), tomato, egg and lettuce. Served with their homemade House Vinaigrette, it’s exceptional! Bleu Monkey uses top ingredients and everything is made fresh daily. Other notable salads are the BBQ Chicken Salad, Greek Chicken Salad, Herb Salmon Salad and the Maui Salad. The Maui is served with fresh mango and sliced almonds.

Appetizers at Bleu Monkey are outstanding. An unusual item are the Mac & Cheese Balls, served with a Sicilian Cream Sauce. I love them and hear lots of compliments — you’ll have to try them to understand how good they are. Many guests also love the Chicken Lettuce Wraps which have an Asian flair, with coconut curry noodles. The Tamale Cakes are homemade sweet corn tamale cakes topped with avocado, salsa verde and sour cream. The Okinawa Tempura Rolls are superb! These have sashimi grade tuna and served with a Naha dipping sauce (soy sauce based). Another great decision includes the Texican rolls; grilled chicken with peppers and onions rolled in an egg roll wrapper and topped with guacamole. The Buffalo Chicken Sliders are a good hearty option.bleu2

My favorite entree is the Bleu Monkey Shrimp! I once entertained a friend here for lunch, and after having this shrimp, he brought his wife back the same night. It’s that good! The pan-seared shrimp (or available with chicken or combo) are sautéed in a Pickapeppa Sauce and serve with yummy Cuban black beans, rice, fresh mango salsa and fried plantains. You’ll go bananas over the plantains at Bleu Monkey Grill!

Another entree worth noting is the Orange Chicken. This is boneless chicken and steamed veggies and rice, served in a spicy and tangy orange glaze. The Jalapeño Tilapia is splendid — grilled tilapia, sautéed with jalapeños and spinach, then served over angel hair Parmesan pasta. The Cabo Chicken Tacos and the Bon-Bon Chicken and Shrimp are other favorites. The Bob-Bon is chicken and shrimp cooked in curry and a spicy coconut milk — yum!

Many sandwich and burger choices are on the menu, as are steaks. Pass on the steaks, unless you’re craving a rib-eye. While not bad, the other items mentioned before eclipse them. Many of the entree choices are available in a lunch-sized portions when dining before 3 p.m.

Save room for dessert — two options are really special! The Chocolate Crème Brulee and the Apple Crisp with Ice Cream are stunning. The Apple Crisp comes sizzling on an iron skillet and served with a rum sauce.

Bleu Monkey is open seven days from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The full bar has most all beverages, and the restaurant has a minimal, but serviceable wine list. Don’t be a chimp, er-ah chump, go to Bleu Monkey Grill!

4:45 p.m. … I take back almost everything that I said about Arkansas’ quarterback … almost.

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