Chef Andrew Nienke of Cafe Monarch on His Field of Dreams and What The Phoenix Food Scene Is Still Missing
Lauren Saria Vintage postcards
With such limited seating and menu options, they "highly encourage" reservations though for the first time ever they won't be required. Allowing walk-ins (albeit a very limited number) is one of just three changes that have been made since the restaurant moved to new ownership.
The other two include that the restaurant will no longer be BYOB. They have a sommelier on staff now who will curate a "really small boutique-y" wine list and have added a beautiful wooden bar in one of the dining rooms. Guests will be able to order cocktails while they wait for a table and Lewkowicz says he's looking at adding a small bruscetta menu for those who just want to walk in for a drink and a snack.
Finally the restaurant will no longer close for the summer season.
If you visit the Café Monarch Facebook page, you can get a good sense of how much pressure Nienke and Lewkowicz are under to do things well. On it they're constantly fielding questions from worried guests about whether things will change and if so, how much. Out of towners who have been coming to the restaurant for years want to know, for example, if Nienke still be able to make one of Van Arsdale's dishes they had come to love (If you're wondering, the answer is that he will). They have reservations already for birthdays, rehersal dinners and even a proposal.
"To have people love this place this much that they're making reservations this far out ... they're putting so much trust in me," Nienke says, very aware of the expectations that rest on his shoulders.
"But this is my field of dreams."
One thing everybody should know about the new Cafe Monarch...is that it isn't that much different than the old Cafe Monarch. Chef Christopher Van Arsdale worked his butt off making it amazing. Who am l to fix something that isn't broke? It is a beautiful restaurant with an amazing concept.
Your favorite dish on the menu: It hasn't been made yet. We truly are a seasonal restaurant and it really depends what is at the market. Ask me in a month or two.
Lauren Saria The kitchen at Cafe Monarch