Before you reach the 49th floor of the National in downtown Dallas, Monarch greets you on the ground floor with a crisp glass of bubbly, just in case the long elevator ride up leaves you parched. Inside, a wall of windows opens the dining room to the city’s skyline; the clean lines of booths and tables under white cloths keep the focus on the view and the food. Chef Danny Grant centers his modern Italian menu on a wood-fired hearth, including the meatballs he serves with buffalo milk mozzarella, or the Spanish octopus with confit potatoes. The handmade pastas are rich and flavorful, showcasing classics like cacio e pepe and savory shrimp scampi ravioli in white wine and roasted garlic. Grant also offers a tasting menu, curated to include a variety of pasta dishes, seafood and steak cuts.
After dinner, you might enjoy a cocktail in Monarch’s Chandelier Lounge, with floral damask wallpaper, plush green velvet chairs and the best view of wine director Nicole Nowlin’s cellar. Nowlin aims to create unique experiences with bottles that are hard to find elsewhere in Dallas. Not only does her program boast a vertical of Mouton Rothschild from 1945 to 2009 and a collection of thirty-eight Wendouree Claire Valley Malbecs (rarely seen anywhere in the States), it also features four pages of magnums and more than 300 wines for under $100.
Based in Los Angeles, California, Alissa Bica is the Associate Editor at Wine & Spirits. She is also a sommelier at 71 Above and co-runs the home wine tasting company, Côte Brune and Blonde. In any rare moments of free time, she writes about obscure grape varieties in the blog Off the Beaten Wine Path.
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