At first glance, one might not be sure that this still isn’t The Bank of Babylon. The external design hasn’t changed much, with the depository’s nameplate announcing the building’s year of birth to be 1922 -- and the stone carvings put in place by the original architect still adorn the structure’s front. But look again -- notice the orange glow in the windows, the ancient-styled Asian totems that stand on both sides of the doors, which are now imbued with a repeating, interlocking symbol. As it turns out, the jazz-age masonry that still makes up the outer housing of this space is all that is left of what was -- for now it has thoroughly become the Monsoon Asian Kitchen and Lounge -- and it plans to be a vibrant part of the already bustling Babylon Village nightlife.
Located at 48 Deer Park Ave., this venue is a large leap for the nightlife of a scene that was already quickly evolving. The area personality ranges from local casual (Mary Carroll’s) to big bar eateries (Post Office Café, Lily Flanagans), to mature casual (The Argyle, Babylon Carriage House) and upscale wine bar (Barrique). However, Monsoon -- which takes its cue from sister venue Prime in Huntington – is a singular entity in an area which -- no matter what nation or theme inspires the décor, or how many people it draws from all over the Island -- tends to possess a generally local personality. But upon entering Monsoon, it would be easy to imagine that you have somehow left the South Shore and dropped into Manhattan, or even Tokyo.
Consisting of two floors, the upstairs holds several tables for meals, many of which overlook the lower level (although everyone on both floors can see the movie-screen size monitor positioned over the entrance, which runs random clips of animation, nature scenes and movie clips). Downstairs, the seating is really more for lounge purposes; a space also energized by a long bar. Bartenders await behind the mantle, working before two tall windows filled with variously-hued bottles of liquor, creating an almost stained-glass visual. Black counters equipped with sauces for dining and short, peg-like seats circle small tables finish the room, which unlike the top floor is to be dominated by the nightlife aspect.
Dinner is available nightly and the bar and lounge will stay open to match, but on Thursdays and Fridays last call will bring evenings to 2 a.m., with relaxed-yet-danceable music supplied by “sound engineers” – an upscale moniker for DJ. But “upscale” is the idea at every turn -- and the crowd that is expected to come here for both mixed drinks and mixing in general will be casually well-dressed (dress shirts and very neat for gentlemen, business-wear/ evening wear on ladies), ranging 25-55 in age. Those who do come for cocktails will find house signature drinks for about $12, and the drinks menu includes items such as the “Babylon Express” (cucumber vodka, St. Germain, pineapple juice, lime juice/ $13), the “Bloody Samurai” (chipotle vodka, tomato juice, wasabi, sriracha/ $13) and “Tranquility” (Absolut Citron, oolong tea syrup/ $12). Then again, those who like to share can literally do so with the “Scorpion Bowl” (Parrot Bay rum, Bacardi Grand Mellon, pineapple juice/ $29), a libation that serves three to four patrons at once.
Of course, with the grand opening only taking place back on Thursday (Feb. 23), what’s to come at night here at Monsoon is still more expectation than demonstration. However, with a tremendous effort in place, the table is set for one of the most auspicious attempts at modern, city-styled nightlife ever undertaken in this neck of the woods.