Best Contemporary American Restaurant - 2011
Café Monarch is untraditional in terms of restaurants, in that it's a one-man show that's as much an experience as it is a fine-dining restaurant. That one man is Chef Christopher Van Arsdale, and his mission is to create fresh and innovative American cuisine that caters to the needs of each guest. He's your chef, your waiter, and your busboy all wrapped up in a gracious package. Enjoy your meal on the garden patio or inside the small dining room, where you can watch him bustle around the kitchen. During brunch, you'll get one of two choices: sweet or savory. Like candied ginger atop baked almond French toast with almond butter and fresh blueberry sauce. Or a goat cheese-packed egg strata with spinach, roasted artichoke hearts, and basil-chicken sausage on the side. Light lunches make use of seasonal produce, with dishes like baked goat cheese and berries, turkey breast panini with orange cranberry relish, and chicken basil salads with heirloom tomatoes. The main event, though, is family-style dinner, like chutney-dressed lamb chops, garlic rosemary braised short ribs, and smoky barbecue pork tenderloin. Be forewarned, it's BYOB, and you might want to make sure you take advantage of this, because a one-man show tends to move at a slower clip than a fully staffed kitchen. Go, at first, for the experience, but we guarantee it's the food that will have you returning for more.