Café Monarch

Reviewed By: Leslie
A quick Google search of Café Monarch leads you to their website, of course, but also pages and pages of news articles regarding accolades given to the restaurant time and time again.  Sometimes, when a restaurant is hyped to such a level Andy and I get really super excited and want to try it out for ourselves.  A lot of the time we are disappointed.  Maybe we're picky.  Hahahahaha!  Who am I kidding? We are definitely picky.  I am a little choosy about service and food quality. I have pretty high expectations, especially when we intend to drop some dollar signs for dinner. I expect all steps of service to be followed without exception. We both expect the food to be cooked to perfection and plated artfully. Boy were we in for a treat when we finally decided to check out Café Monarch to see what all the noise was about!

Ambience:  Cafe Monarch is beautifully decorated all the way through.  You are greeted at the door by a beautiful fountain and two columns. The entrance doesn't really convey that you are about to enter a palatial dining room. The walls are hung with beautiful art, old world photos, and flowers. The furniture feels antique, but not stuffy. The tables are covered in white linen and formal place settings. The outdoor seating area is lined with candles, a beautiful garden setting, a fireplace, and classy decor.

Quality: This was hands down, without a doubt, the best meal we have had in Scottsdale. It's probably in the top ten of my lifetime of meals. There is a choice of a four course pre fixe menu or an eight course pre fixe menu.  We chose four courses.  Essentially we ordered one of each item on the menu for the first three courses and for the fourth course I ordered surf and turf, and Andy ordered the duck. This gave us a chance to try every item offered on the menu (save for a pasta dish and a few steak selections). The plates were beautiful. As they came to our table--each artfully decorated, colorful, and two to three bites of heaven--we started to wonder if we should have gone with the eight course meal. The courses seemed very small at first, but by the time you finish the third course, and move on to the entree, you are feeling like it was a perfectly sized meal. Not too small and certainly not a mountain of food you would expect to see at other restaurants. We finished dinner too full for dessert, but had we wanted to order something sweet there was an extensive list of dessert wines as well as Creme Brûlée, mousses, sorbets, and cheesecake.

Service: Every server is certified at least a level one Sommelier through the Court of Masters Sommelier Course.  What this means for those of us enjoying their service is the servers are qualified to suggest terrific wine pairings from the vast wine list which will compliment each course of your incredible meal.  Not only that, they are educated in the nuances of wine service. This means professional and proper wine service at every step of your dinner.  Also, the servers are trained in the proper steps of service for fine dining. I understand most people don't pay attention to the timing of service or whether or not the server will fold your napkin and leave it neatly on the table if you should leave for the restroom, but it is these trained subtleties in service that separate a restaurant such as Cafe Monarch from your average neighborhood bar. There are two servers assigned to each table, but we also received wine suggestions from the head Sommelier. Our server, Daniel, was extraordinarily friendly and on top of his game. The tables were bussed instantly and each course was out within minutes of the previous dishes being removed. Water glasses and wine glasses were always full. Every single employee we came in contact with was outstanding.

Value: If you, dear reader, are a regular at this blog then you know that we don't mind spending good money for a good meal.  Cafe Monarch is expensive. The kind of restaurant you take your loved one for a special event. The kind of restaurant at which you linger and enjoy the evening. When the check comes, you take a deep breath and hand over your credit card because you earned this meal. Look across the table at the person you love and take a sip from your beautiful crystal wine glass and be grateful for this meal, the company, and the beautiful night.

This is not the restaurant you take the whole family in order to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Oh no no no.  This isn't the restaurant you take your entire family to celebrate a birthday. This is the restaurant you take your future fiance to propose. Or you want to have a romantic and special night to remember. Most of the diners were at tables of two. There was one table of four women and they seemed to be having a grand time celebrating a birthday. Cafe Monarch is a very special event. Once a year, because life is short and you are grateful for the chance to enjoy a beautiful meal and an amazing glass of wine.