Last night was bitter sweet for the city of St. Louis. Monarch closed their doors after defining the roots of the Maplewood dining scene for nine years. Granted this is much longer than I’ve lived in the area, but when I moved here in 2010 and met the St. Louis food crew, there was a constant rumbling about Monarch. It was under the breath, almost an assumption – of course we’d be going to Monarch. And before I even knew it, the rumblings always seemed to include the name Josh Galliano.
Chef Galliano has a history of blowing away his peers but it was his fresh take on old Louisiana that hooked me. I never knew Monarch before Josh was involved, so I can only comment on what I do know: the melt-in-your-mouth BBQ shrimp and grits, the warm crawfish bread, and finally, thanks to our last visit last night, his ingenious fried chicken.
We went to celebrate a friend’s birthday, but also to celebrate Josh and what he brought to the table, literally. And to celebrate Monarch, and those beautiful butterflies.
Our table was loaded with the best the menu had to offer. Chef Galliano didn’t cook with scraps he had left in the kitchen for his final night – he restocked that very morning in anticipation of the many who would bid their farewell.
We started with the charcuterie plate (a variety of meats) and munched on snails (a first for me!) before our entrees arrived. His famous fried chicken was served to the table for everyone to share, so I ordered the BBQ shrimp and grits, one of my favorites. We ended with a smattering of desserts, including the famous s’more.
The food, as always, was superb and the company even more so. We were so thankful that as busy as he was, he graciously came to our table to say hello to friends and made sure we were well taken care of.
So, in honor of a great chef, I ask you to:
1) cross your fingers that he wins Best Chef: Midwest via the James Beard Foundation
2) vote for Josh in Food and Wine’s Best Chef: Midwest competition!
I honored Monarch in my own way, by making Chef Galliano’s famous praline bacon at home. Using the recipe he gave to Sauce Magazine, I combined a mixture of finely diced nuts (a sample bag I had in my pantry) and brown sugar.
I cooked the bacon for 10 minutes, then took it out of the oven and covered each piece with the brown sugar/nut mixture.
I cooked them for about 12 minutes more, and that was it. Of course, it wasn’t exactly like Monarch’s, but it was quite tasty and would be the perfect appetizer to any meal.
Sweet and nutty, this bacon has it all.
I only wish I’d had Galliano’s fried chicken as the main course!
Good luck to Chef Galliano and the rest of the Monarch staff on whatever adventures await!
Question: Do you have a beloved restaurant in your neighborhood? Has one of your favorite local restaurants closed?