With sweeping views of downtown Dallas from the 49th floor of The National skyscraper, Monarch isn’t just a restaurant worthy of a special occasion. A meal there is a celebration unto itself. Beyondish recently spoke with Monarch Executive Chef Eric Dreyer and Pastry Chef Mariella Bueza to learn more about their inspiration for the restaurant’s dinner and dessert menus and how they work together to create an exceptional fine dining experience for their guests.
How would you describe the experience at Monarch?
Chef Eric Dreyer: It’s loosely modern Italian and wood fired. It’s an experience, definitely! Hopefully people get caught up with what’s happening with the views and the energy with the restaurant.
What are some of your inspirations for the menu?
Chef Dreyer: I love starting with dessert—Mariella, what inspires you?
Chef Mariella Bueza: Definitely, we think about the season. Obviously the desserts that will always stay on the menu will be the chocolate cake and the souffle. But the souffle changes throughout [the year]. Right now we have a chocolate souffle with strawberry and Nutella.
Even though we’re technically an Italian restaurant, I still do French desserts, but I try to get the flavors from Italy. We have a tiramisu pate choux — pate choux is from France, but tiramisu is from Italy. It’s like a fusion. In pastry we still do a lot of French techniques.
I think about trying to get a balance and I think about what other restaurants in Dallas don’t have. I try to be as creative as possible. We have a rum panna cotta that takes the twist of a mojito, with pineapple and mint.
Chef Dreyer: We do check ourselves a lot. Can you pronounce what a certain technique is or a certain ingredient? We’re making sure that it is elevated but approachable. The seasonality of things, like [Mariella] mentioned, that’s really what drives the menu.
What’s your process to ensure that the dinner and dessert menus are cohesive?
Chef Dreyer: When we’re looking at R&D for any item, we run them as [special] features, so we’re seeking feedback along the way. [The staff] gets to see it, they get to taste it, and see how it executes from the line.
We look at the big picture of preparation, making sure we can keep up with something. We have 250 seats here in the restaurant. It’s busy. Yes, menu items need to be detailed, there’s a lot of technique to it, but at the same time it needs to be something we can execute repetitively and be consistent with.
What are some of the most popular dishes at Monarch?
Chef Dreyer: The wood oven-roasted prawns with Calabrian chile jus, the dry-aged meatballs, and all of the pastas, specifically the rigatoni.
Chef Bueza: And don’t forget the focaccia!
Chef Dreyer: The focaccia bread is what everyone starts with. While there are seasonal changes on the dessert menu, I think the go-to is the souffle. If you’re a fan of chocolate, peanut butter and banana together, definitely try the chocolate cake.
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