High-End Dining In Old Town Scottsdale

Have you been to Cafe Monarch? If you haven’t, this restaurant should be on your bucket list. Like many fine establishments that are highly selective in their ingredients with great service and decor, the meal does come with a bit of a price tag. The question many people have is Cafe Monarch worth the price? Yes, but…

DIG Scottsdale Cafe Monarch place setting

How Does It Feel To Dine At Cafe Monarch?

Allow me to set the scene:   We made reservations early on a Tuesday night for a birthday celebration in June.  Even though the temperatures are already in the 100s in Scottsdale, the bar and restaurant were full.  But from the first moment you walk in the door you are treated like you’re a cherished guest even though this was just my second visit. The ambiance is so upscale and polished you really feel like you’ve been transported to a secret Old World gem.

Their Cocktails Are Divine

The talent behind the bar is quite amazing and we ordered two Vespers which were perfect.  The table setting, linens, flowers, candles, stemware, chargers and tapestries on the wall really set the mood. The Vespers are worth a try, they’re not on the menu but are quite delicious. Definitely take a look at their specialty cocktail menu. Their signature drink is called The Monarch: Roku Gin, Velvet Falernum Liqueur, Raspberry Purée, Fresh Mint, Fresh Lemon Juice and Mi Casa Bitters.

DIG Scottsdale Cafe Monarch vesper
DIG Scottsdale Cafe Monarch Dinner For Two Receipt

Award-Winning Food

Cafe Monarch has received a slew of awards from places like Wine Spectator, Tripadvisor, OpenTable and many local outlets.  They’re all deserved.  The other time I went to Cafe Monarch, I studied the menu diligently and knew exactly what I was ordering (and spending) before walking in the door. Before COVID, Cafe Monarch offered two types of wine pairings.  If you check out when Wine Spectator named them as one of the top dessert restaurants they list the pairings as “Wine pairings are available for an added $95, or $225 for the grand cru wine pairing.” This pricing is no longer available so the total bill was an unpleasant surprise.  The wine pairing for the four course prix fixe meal is now $175.00 which is actually more expensive than the meal.

The Wine Pairing

Cafe Monarch has a great selection of wine and their sommelier is helpful and friendly.  The tasting size portions of the wine, in my opinion, didn’t rate the $175 price tag. Had we purchased all 5 bottles of the wine we tried in a retail store the cost would have been under $300.  Based on this, my recommendation if you want to experience the wonderful ambiance, food and service at Cafe Monarch, skip the wine pairing and buy an incredible bottle of the wide selection of wine, with a pre-dinner cocktail and a dessert drink and save a couple of hundred bucks.

The Wines We Tasted

  • Duménil 1er Cru Grande Réserve Brut Champagne 2013 – Retail $50

  • Vassaltis Assyrtiko 2018 – Retail $40

  • Schloss Johannisberg Gelblack Riesling 2017 – Retail $35/By the bottle $69

  • Tenuta delle Terre Nere Guardiola Rosso Etna 2018 – Retail $47/By the bottle $70

  • An Approach to Relaxation Nichon 2018 – Retail $39/By the bottle $117

  • Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2019 – Retail $89/By the bottle $270

DIG Scottsdale cafe monrach cauliflower soup
DIG Scottsdale cafe monnarch lamb
DIG Scottsdale Cafe Monarch Fruitti di Mare

Some Of The Courses We Tasted

There are three courses that are included in the pre-fixe offering and then the final price is based on the entree of your choice.  Their menu changes based on availability.

  • Chilled Corn Soup: Argentinian Red Shrimp Salad, Hatch Chili, Toasted Almonds
  • Niman Ranch Pork Belly Salad: Cantaloupe, Charred Romaine Heart, Smoked Goat Cheese, Hazelnut Crumble, Fresno Peppers
  • Blackened Yellowfin Tuna: Asparagus & Haricot Verts Salad, Sunflower Seeds, Dill Crema, Capers, Pickled Sweet Peppers
  • Salmon: Spring Vegetables, Morel Mushroom, Nage
  • Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast: Seared Foie Gras, Strawberry Glazed Rhubarb, Arugula, Mostarda
  • Frutti di Mare: Linguine, White Wine, Tomato, Maine Diver Scallop, Lobster, Tiger Prawn, Manila Clams, Alaskan King Crab, Fine Herbs
  • Dulce de Leche Cheesecake: Chocolate Sable, Caramelia Chocolate, Caramel Sauce
  • Bananas Foster Cake: Banana Mousse, Chantilly Cream, Butterscotch, Candied Walnuts

The Food Is Worth Every Penny

Now let’s talk about the food.  I can’t stress enough about how great the service is from every aspect and encounter.  Also, the place settings are gorgeous and complement each dish.  My dinner companion and I tried a wide selection of items and everything was scrumptious.

DIG Scottsdale cafe monarch yellowfin tuna

Outside Cafe Monarch the valet was kind enough to hold up a small light so we could take a well-lit picture in front of the building.  This is a small example of the little things the staff thinks about to make your experience memorable.

A Splendid Celebration

Cafe Monarch is a delight. My dinner companion Chef Markus Ford and I thoroughly enjoyed our meal, the outstanding service and the elegance that made it such an excellent experience. We both agreed, however, next time we will select our own bottle of wine.  I enjoy the hedonistic pleasures of an extraordinary meal but if I could have saved $250 by simply glancing at the wine menu for a few minutes, I certainly would have engaged their very competent sommelier.  The only other thing I would change is the option to have a little more lighting at the table because everything was so beautifully prepared, it was a shame I could only see it by candlelight.