The new Monarch restaurant in downtown Dallas was already destined to be a sought-after special occasion spot, because it comes from Michelin-starred Chicago chef Danny Grant and is located inside The National, a gracefully redeveloped 1960s-era building.
And yet, Monarch’s biggest wow is its bird’s-eye view of Dallas. The restaurant is on the 49th floor, and diners can sit up against floor-to-ceiling windows for a spectacular peek at the city from on high.
The view rivals those from the famous Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck restaurant atop Reunion Tower. But it’s no competition, because Five Sixty closed during the pandemic.
Monarch’s menu is wood-fired modern Italian, with comforting dishes like short rib Bolognese, meatballs with buffalo milk mozzarella, and shareable lasagna. Don’t wear your stretchy pants or expect a casual evening, however. Monarch has the potential to become the spot in Dallas to dine, and its gorgeous dining room is bound to lure in well-dressed customers looking for an iconic evening.
While the room feels formal, Grant says the restaurant has “moments” it will add throughout to year to prove that Monarch is constantly evolving. For instance, there’s a hidden wine-tasting room, available only for people who know people. Eventually, Monarch will host invitation-only chocolate and cognac tastings.
“Once you’re up here, we want to make it so you don’t want to leave,” Grant says. He notes there’s a “spirit of playfulness” in the design of the restaurant. Big-patterned wallpaper and textured chandeliers make the room feel dynamic.
The Chandelier Bar is a spot you’ll want to grab a drink. It’s small, though, and snagging a seat will be the hardest part.
Though Grant is from Chicago, he picked a Dallas chef to run his kitchen. The executive chef is Eric Dreyer, formerly of Fearing’s and Ellie’s. Fun fact: Dreyer was also Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef for a time.
It’s worth noting that the chefs get to enjoy Monarch’s exceptional view, too, because the kitchen boasts floor-to-ceiling windows.
Dinner starts with bread service: focaccia, finished in the wood-fired oven and served with whipped ricotta. Then it’s on to raw items like Wagyu carpaccio or a bright tuna tartare dish with Meyer lemon. Customers can opt for pricey caviar service — $120 for 1 ounce, $230 for 2 ounces — but the menu offers lower-priced options that seem more soulful. A shareable plate of crispy cacio e pepe is just $12.
Diners will be rightfully drawn to the house-made pastas, inspired by Grant’s Italian family. Options include black truffle risotto, Momma’s spicy rigatoni alla vodka, and whole Maine lobster spaghetti.
Those feeling spendy can spring for the $160 Japanese A5 filet kagoshima or the $125 striploin from A Bar N Ranch. But if money doesn’t matter, the most interesting dinner option isn’t a single cut of beef or a plate of pasta, it’s a multiple course chef’s tasting called The Royale, for $190 per person. Diners won’t know what’s coming until it lands in front of them, another playful touch.
Dinner can end with a theatrical flambé for dessert. Or, get The Night Cap, a pink tiered tray that comes with French press coffee, digestifs and nibbles like hazelnut shortbread and pistachio biscotti for $45.
Monarch is inside The National, at 1401 Elm St., Dallas, on the 49th floor. Monarch does not have any outdoor seating.
Above Monarch is Kessaku, a sushi lounge and wraparound observation deck that is expected to open March 24, 2021.