Restaurant of the Week: Cafe Monarch

It’s hard to discuss fine dining in Scottsdale and not include the one name which for years has stood proudly above the rest. From the warm, elegant ambiance to the first-rate service to the splendid and inventive cuisine, a meal at Cafe Monarch in Old Town Scottsdale is always nothing less than exceptional.

In fact, so fabulous is the epicurean experience at Cafe Monarch that Trip Advisor just named it the third best fine dining restaurant in the nation — the latest in seemingly never-ending list of accolades bestowed upon this family owned culinary treasure. Valley locals have known for years what more people across the country are learning every day: Cafe Monarch is fine dining at its finest.

Longtime Monarch fans will remember the old location across the street, a quaint little romantic hideaway, the centerpiece of which was the lush courtyard where diners felt transported somewhere timeless in heart of the Mediterranean. Opened last year, the new venue trades a little warmth for grandeur; the courtyard might not quite have the same magic, but the main dining room more than makes up for it. It feels grand, regal even: eager to stand up against those fancy New York establishments it routinely finds itself compared to.

The menu at Monarch is always changing. It’s a four-course prix fixe concept, with two options for the first three courses and seven or so choices for the fourth (gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian options are also available). Dessert is optional, and while delicious, I suppose not technically mandatory, although in my opinion the wine pairing is. (It seems like everyone at Monarch is at least a Level One sommelier, and they do a deft job of finding interesting choices to accompany each course.)

Regardless of what you choose, you are almost certain to have a near transcendent dining experience. Current menu options include Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Périgord black winter truffles, roasted pine nuts, and crème fraîche; Big Eye Tuna Tartare served over a crispy rice cake, Granny Smith apple tare sauce, and Calabrian chile aioli; and Prime Tenderloin Wellington with mushroom duxelles, foie gras mousse vol-au-vent, and vegetables. Each is delightful, inventive, and made with careful craft.

The main courses are less inconstant. The Surf and Turf Trio (filet mignon, chilean sea bass, and lobster raviolo) and the Niman Ranch Filet Mignon (a USDA prime filet with smoked butternut squash purée, white truffle scented fingerling potatoes, and cabernet sauvignon-beef jus) are pretty much staples. The Chilean Sea Bass and Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast are a little less common. Again, there are no bad choices here. The only real choice is whether or not you spring the extra $35 for foie gras, scallops, or charred octopus as an accompaniment. (Depends on how extravagant you’re feeling, I suppose, but each is marvelous and hard to argue against.)

Nevertheless, regardless of how hard you decide to splurge, dinner at Cafe Monarch certainly isn’t cheap… and yet it feels worth every penny. You really can feel the value of the exquisite cuisine, opulent ambiance, and impeccable service in every moment you savor while dining there. For these reasons and more, Cafe Monarch continues to humbly earn its many plaudits and remain the premier place for special occasion meals in town. You can do no better.

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ty-fahlman-author-bioAbout Author Ty Fahlman

The former Managing Editor of Jetset Magazine, Ty Fahlman has earned a stellar reputation for his probing, introspective interviews of celebrities, as well as his in-depth profiles of resorts, restaurants, and destinations. With over 150 articles published, Ty has ghostwritten for New York Times bestselling authors and celebrities, and given thoughtful and in-depth profiles and interviews of dozens of A-List celebrities including Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, and Leonardo DiCaprio. He currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona but travels as much as he can.

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