[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]
I feel safe declaring that The Monarch is not your average bar, unless your local watering hole has a chef like Andrew Brochu in the back. Brochu has a serious resume, including recent stints at Graham Elliot and EL Ideas. But the one that best informs the cooking here is the much missed Kith and Kin, a warm and inviting comfort food spot in Lincoln Park (oh, how I long for that fried chicken thigh). Instead of trying to execute overly technical and precious bar food, he’s created a welcoming and appealing menu that still tastes great with beer.
That’s definitely true of the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich ($12). The breading around the green tomato could be crunchier (after a few bites it starts to crumble off), but that’s not all this underripe tomato has to offer. Its main addition to this sandwich is acidity, something that is especially important when you realize that the layer of gooey gruyère means that this is a grilled cheese sandwich. The combination is kind of like having a grilled cheese with a good tomato soup, all in one convenient bite.