Wood-fired Italian grill Monarch is now open on the 49th floor of The National, where the jewel-box interiors rise to the menu’s grand occasion. (Photo by Jonathan Zizzo)
Large windows around the entire Monarch dining room give incredible 360-degree views of Dallas. (Photo by Jonathan Zizzo)
Dishes at Monarch range from pastas and salads to steak and seafood. (Photo by Emily Carley)
Several pastas are on the Monarch menu, including a shortrib Bolognese.(Photo by Emily Carley)
Monarch has several shareable items to start with. (Photo by Emily Carley)
Kessaku is set to open on the 50th floor on March 24. (Courtesy)
The Desert Flower is a must-try cocktail at Kessaku. (Photo by Megan Ziots)
When we first heard about Monarch last winter, we expected it to be beautiful, but the wood-fired, modern Italian restaurant high atop the Thompson Dallas hotel downtown, is truly something special. The glittering spot with bird’s-eye views is led by two-time Michelin-starred Chicago chef Danny Grant (RIA, Maple & Ash). After connecting with Shawn Todd of Todd Interests, which completed the redevelopment of George Dahl’s iconic 1965 building, the chef knew he had to bring his next restaurant to Dallas.
The first thing you’ll notice when you ascend to the 49th floor are the windows wrapping around Monarch, which gives every diner a chance to glimpse the city from new heights. I have never in my life been at eye-level with I.M. Pei’s incredible Fountain Place skyscraper, but on this night I was. Designed by Caroline Todd (Todd Interiors), Chicago-based Simeone Deary Design Group, and Heidi Lightner Architects, the 49th floor is an aesthetic feast of patterns, imaginative lighting, and rich leather finishes, with plenty of intimate nooks and lounge areas.
One of our favorite spots was the Chandelier Bar, an intimate space covered in botanical-inspired wallpaper and lighting. It faces a glass-encased wine room, where you can witness a sommelier working their magic. Our table had a front-row view of the open-concept kitchen, where waiters bustled in and out with large trays of cocktails, seafood, steaks, and desserts. It really was a show.
Headed by chef Eric Dreyer (formerly of Ellie’s at HALL Arts Hotel), the food menu is defined by handmade pastas such as black truffle risotto and whole Maine lobster spaghetti, along with grain- and grass-fed steaks and a show-stopping table experience involving a live Alaskan king crab.
To start, the salmon crudo or the wood-fired meatballs served in a hot skillet were excellent. For pasta, the short rib Bolognese topped with ricotta was our winner. (Other pastas on the menu worth exploring are the Cacio e Pepe, shrimp scampi ravioli, and lobster spaghetti.) A 28-day dry aged ribeye — under the Butcher’s Reserve section — is another stunner. And for dessert, a standout was the chocolate soufflé, which comes with a chocolate sorbet to place inside the cake’s melty center. Paired with the Caraillo cocktail, it’s perfection.
On the Monarch cocktail front, The Easy Breezy (a mix of Absolut, lavender tonic, orange bitters, and grapefruit Topo Chico) was refreshing. Another favorite is the Secret Garden with gin, St. Germain, violette, seedlip, and lemon. The latter is on the boozier side, so plan accordingly.
Up on the 50th floor, Japanese lounge Kessaku (also led by chef Grant) is gearing up to open on Wednesday, March 24, focusing on sushi and an extensive sake menu. I highly recommend The Desert Flower. You won’t regret it.