When you arrive at Café Monarch in Scottsdale, Arizona, and step onto the front patio, you already know that you’re in for a great dining experience. Arriving just ten minutes before our reservation, we were escorted to a café table on the front patio surrounded by greenery and flowers while we waited for our reserved table. The hostess also left a menu so that we could preview the culinary creations being offered for the evening.
We ordered cocktails, and within a few moments were escorted to our table inside the tiny restaurant. Quaint, eclectic and charming best describe the tiny interior. Tables and chairs are not crowded-in together but instead, spaced out so that you don’t bump into another party’s table as you pull out your chair to sit. The atmosphere is dark and romantic with tasteful music playing a blend of classical, smooth jazz and contemporary in the background. White linen tablecloths drape the tables and there are flowers, candles, antiques and décor artfully displayed throughout the room and on the rear garden patio where there is additional seating for dining.
You are not rushed as you take in the ambience and peruse the menu. Our waiter welcomed us and explained the menu choices for the evening, mentioning that the chef changes the menu weekly depending upon what he finds that is fresh, seasonal and local.
The menu is four courses, prix fixe, ranging in price from $70.00 to $90.00 depending on the fourth course that you select. There are one or more choices for courses one, two and three, and multiple choices for course four. Whatever you choose, you will not be disappointed in quality, presentation or portion size. You will also not be disappointed with the wait staff. Each and every one of the staff, from waiters to food servers and runners, are professional, polite, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Wine pairings are available and all of the waiters are trained and certified sommeliers. This is fine dining at its best.
Some of the menu items we chose included:
First Course: Yellow Tomato Gazpacho with Abby Lee Farms Heirloom Tomatoes, Esquites, Poblano Crema, Cotija Cheese, Pickled Shallots, Avocado and Micro Cilantro
Second Course: Compressed Watermelon Salad with Organic Baby Greens, Pickled Watermelon Rind, Cashews, Tete de Moine Cheese, Rainer Cherry, Vinaigrette, Sesame Seed Lavash
Third Course: Tempura King Prawn with Papaya-Cantaloupe Slaw, Sambal Aioli, Micro Wasabi Greens
Fourth Course: Spinach Pappardelle Bolognese, House Made Pasta (perfectly cooked al dente), Parmesan, Pinot Noir Reduction Sauce and Micro Basil
Since this was an anniversary celebration (and food and wine expedition), we had already enjoyed a few glasses of wine throughout the day, so we decided to forego the wine pairing and instead selected a glass of wine to accompany our dinner. We chose Ano Verde Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara, California (an average of $30.00 at retail stores). This is a classic, pleasant pinot noir with aromas of dark cherry, cola and spice. On the palate, it conveys richness with curry, pepper and slightly tart juicy cranberry and raspberry. It was the perfect accompaniment to the food.
Café Monarch is a family owned and operated business. Chef/owner Gus Lewkowicz sources only the freshest and best ingredients. The food is top quality and well presented. Seating in the back garden patio is extremely popular, especially in the cooler months and the inside dining room is small so reservations are recommended. Even during the warm summer months, the restaurant is popular with local patrons even during weekdays.
The tradition of fine dining is hard to find, with most people opting for a more casual dining experience. Café Monarch is not pretentious. It is unique and qualifies as a fine dining establishment because of the exemplary attention to detail with courses that are well timed and not rushed, impeccable service, thoughtful and creative presentation, fresh, flavorful foods that tempt and tease the palate, and an exceptional wine list.
It was one of the most enjoyable dining experiences we have had in awhile and we can’t wait to go back!
6934 E First Ave # 102
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Author's Note: In the Fall of 2017, Cafe Monarch moved to a larger space across the street from its original location.
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