Monarch is one of the key “local” restaurants I identified before I set off for my drive to St. Louis to attend the annual meeting of AEJMC. Chef Josh Galliano, a native of Louisiana, is a two-time James Beard nominee. Although not a pure farm-to-table restaurant, Chef Galliano does emphasize local ingredients and seasonal availability in designing his menus.
I printed off directions to Monarch before I left, as I’d planned to spend Tuesday night at a Holiday Inn in the southern suburbs and drive into downtown early Wednesday morning for the start of the conference. Frugality reigns for most of us academics, especially those of us who prefer to eat real food. I had booked downtown hotels through Priceline for the rest of the conference.
Based on the Maplewood location, I decided the best (or easiest) night to try Monarch would be Tuesday, my first night in town. It appeared to me that it would much easier to find from the southern location. The trip over from Lindbergh Boulevard was a bit trickier than I’d anticipated, but I made it there and back without incident.
I arrived at Monarch around 8 p.m. and opted for the casual cafe dining area, rather than the white-table dining room. I explained to the maître d that I was in town for a conference. He was very helpful in describing menu items. I hadn’t eaten anything more than a blueberry muffin since 11 a.m., so I was very hungry.
I started with an heirloom tomato salad. The menu says this salad includes nasturtium, almond soil, Marcoot Creamery fresh Mozzarella, cucumber yogurt sorbet. I didn’t find any nastutrium in my salad, but otherwise it was very nice. The sorbet was an excellent added touch to make this salad unique.
For my entreé, I chose sweet potato wrapped catfish served with roasted mushrooms, braised red cabbage, Bourbon Barrel smoked salt, and sage beurre blanc. I loved this combination. Everything was cooked to perfection. I ate every bite (and I mean every bite).
I got a quick tour of the rest of Monarch before I left. One of the owners, Jeff Orbin, is a designer, so the “look” of Monarch is quite unique. Here’s a shot of the 300 or so beautiful copper butterflies that adorn the ceiling in the formal dining room.
No complaints about the food. A large multi-generational group (heard references to “grandma”) of women were having dinner and they got quite loud, near the end, especially after closing their checks and gathering to leave. It was loud enough that the server came to apologize.
It’s St. Louis (and Missouri) travel week at The Ben Franklin Follies.
Sunday Sign: Joseph Pulitzer Memorial Plaque at The Old Courthouse
Niche: One of My Top 2 Dining Experiences Ever (coming)
Mosaic: OK but a letdown relative to the local hype (coming)
The at Chaumette (coming)
Here’s the link to a farm-to-table piece on St. Louis Metromix where I identified some of the farm-to-table restaurants I wanted to try. Monarch is the only one of these five that I made it to.