Where Did We Go?
Monarch Bistro at Hotel Zaza
5701 Main Street
Houston, TX 77005
What’s The Skinny?
Urban Swank was founded while sitting in the bar area of Monarch at Hotel Zaza almost five years ago. So, we don’t have to tell you that it holds a special place in our hearts. What began as an obsession for their mouthwatering brunch, premium cocktails, and still one of the best patios/terraces in Houston, quickly turned into a place we rarely visited. We can’t quite pinpoint the reason, but honestly, it just became a bit underwhelming. Fast forward to the introduction of their new spring menu curated by Chef de Cuisine, Jonathan Wicks. We are happy to report that Monarch has finally got its groove back!
What was missing before, which now seems ever present, is the dedication and focus to creating flavorful dishes without the fuss. Focusing on locally sourced ingredients, Wicks passion for offering something guests will enjoy is of upmost importance and straying away from the negative stereotype that comes along with hotel restaurants is a close second. Wicks started as a line cook at Monarch and has moved up the ranks – it is apparent that this gentleman has some skills.
A result of his classically trained background and his love of Southern cuisine (Wicks was born and raised in Texas), the menu has something for everyone. Seafood lovers will rejoice in light appetizer offerings while the “big plates” section delivers with creative selections like “The Chicken & The Egg” which is prepared with chicken breast, chicken fried soft boiled egg, shaved carrot & asparagus salad, pancetta, fontina, and saffron buerre blanc. You see, we had no choice but to leave utterly pleased.
What Did We Love?
We had quite a few menu favorites from our tasting, which is always a good thing. Below are the ones we felt were must-haves:
Mussels – (PEI Mussels, Karbach Love Street Beer,Tasso Ham, Serrano, Preserved Meyer Lemon, Chives)
The mussels were very fresh and drunk with happy juice (nickname for the pot likker), which made us happy ladies. Let’s just say there may have been a point that when folks were not looking, and chef stepped back into the kitchen, we picked up the bowl and poured all the mussel pot lickker directly into our mouths. Yes, it was that good!
Spring Pizza – (EVOO, Squash Blossoms, Green Garlic, Leeks, Asparagus, Mozzarella, Bentons Country Ham)
Just in case you were wondering what Spring 2016 tastes like you’ve found it by way of this delicious pizza! You get nice freshness from the squash, leeks, and asparagus. They are working in unison to balance the acidity of the EVOO and the saltiness of the ham, which provides a nice blend of flavors.
Crispy Cauliflower – (Coconut Thai Red Curry, Peanuts, Benne Seed, Green Onion, Upland Cress)
If we had known adding Thai food elements to cauliflower would take it to tastegasm heights we would have done it ourselves! Chef Wicks has a winner on his hands with this dish and we hope it stays on the menu FOREVAH EVAH!