| Lunch |

Hot Roast Beef Melt: Takeout Lunch from Monarch

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About a month ago, I happened to acquire $25 in "ZaZa Bucks," the official currency of the nation of Hotel ZaZa. Although ZaZa Bucks were designed to encourage guests to "stay and play," that is, to use said money poolside, at ZaSpa, on room service, etc., I decided to use my voucher (not redeemable for cash, BTW) on a to-go lunch from Monarch. I was in the neighborhood, it was too late for breakfast, too early for dinner, so why not? I just hoped I wouldn't have to pay for parking.

I didn't, FYI, thanks to ZaZa's very accommodating valets, who let me park right outside the entrance and even watched my car while I went in to claim my takeout bag. The Monarch staff had carefully packaged everything in separate containers, which meant I emerged from the hotel carrying a bag that suggested I had been shopping for hours at Macy's.

I should emphasize that had I not been in possession of the ZaZa Bucks, I would not have been so eager to try Monarch's lunch offerings, which are in large part rather pedestrian and definitely overpriced. I was attracted to the roast beef melt because I think the last time I had this style sandwich was at Arby's, so I figured there was room for improvement with Monarch's version.

With layers of lean, moist beef, a dusting of arugula, a thick slice of melted horseradish cheddar and a generous topping of mayo, the roast beef melt is most definitely a soft sandwich. Additional padding from the fluffy white roll might lead some to criticize this sammie for being soggy, but I enjoyed the warm tenderness. The portion is mild and moderate (I would never describe the hot roast beef melt as "overstuffed") but sufficient to satisfy a midday appetite.

The side of fries, however, was beyond underwhelming. Admittedly I'm biased toward thicker fries, but I can appreciate the merits of thin-cut varieties. However, the greasy, narrow slivers Monarch proffers more resemble those über-thin potato straw things that are all fry and no vegetable. Something tells me Monarch isn't making these fries in house. Jonathan Jones, you obviously paid fastidious attention to the construction and components of your gorgeous spring/summer menu. Please put a fraction of that care into the fries and you'll have a lunch plate that's almost worth $12.

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