For many years the term “bar food” has been used as a derogatory term conjuring up images of soggy fries and burnt hamburgers, but with the rise of the Gastropub that has started to change. It seems that people are embracing the melding of good alcohol selections and quality, upscale comfort foods and I for one couldn’t be more pleased. Wichita is slowly catching on to this trend with the likes of Public and The Anchor stepping up their game. The newest addition to
this restaurant genre is The Monarch, located on the traffic circle in Delano.
The interior is spacious with plenty of seating both inside and out on the patio that faces Douglas. There is plenty of local artwork adorning the walls and the light fixtures made out of old bicycle rims are quite impressive. TVs, a pool table, and an internet juke box ensure that patrons will be able to keep themselves entertained during a night of partying.
The Monarch’s menu is small and focused, which is a nice departure from some bar and grills that offer a mind numbing array of food selections. I was also quite excited to see that the menu is built around in-house smoked meats. This allows The Monarch to offer some unique dishes, although they do offer the obligatory Wichita restaurant appetizer, hummus. At least it’s jazzed up with peppers and served with naan bread. The other apps include decadent items such as stuffed burnt end mushrooms, loaded sweet potato tots, and a smoked sausage and cheese tray. Sandwiches are the focus of the main course menu, but a couple of soups and salads are available as well including a hardcore chef salad that comes with ham, brisket, turkey and duck bacon. Yes, you read that correctly, duck bacon. Calling this thing a salad probably violates some USDA guidelines, but I’m not going to turn them in for creating such a thing of beauty.
To start off our meal we ordered the sausage and cheese tray. I really wanted to order the stuffed ‘shrooms, but I was outvoted at our table. The tray included two types of sausage, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and naan bread. The sausages were high quality with a good smoked flavor. I would have liked to see more exotic cheese selections, but overall it was a good appetizer. For our main dishes we were faced with several tantalizing sandwich choices, but eventually we decided on the The Monarch and Chicken Caprese. I went with a side of homemade potato chips and Steph ordered the sweet potato tots. The Monarch featured smoked brisket, sautéed onions and peppers, and provolone cheese served on a tasty baguette. The brisket was nicely done with good smoke flavor and fairly tender. Overall I really liked the sandwich, it was nice change from your typical brisket sandwich that consists of two slabs of white bread and BBQ sauce. Steph’s Caprese sandwich was an impressive combination of smoked chicken, pesto, tomatoes, and provolone. Oftentimes it is hard to keep a smoked meat like chicken moist for very long, but The Monarch did a nice job of pulling it off. The homemade potato chips were spot on and the sweet potato tots were solid as well.
The Monarch is a nice addition to the Wichita dining scene, especially since they are one of the few places you can get good food late at night. Its unique, yet unpretentious food menu makes it an attractive place for causal American dining options. The only real issue was the fact they did not have any high chairs. I know its supposed to be a trendy bar and grill place, but you could at least have a high chair for those terrible parents such as myself who have no qualms taking their children to bars, albeit at reasonable hours of the day. Perhaps they could commission a local artists to make some out of old PBR cans?