A less discussed, but equally swanky and dramatic restaurant in the West Chelsea/Meatpacking area, whose industrial, cavernous ceiling somehow lends the feeling that you're inside a nuclear reactor.
While the large bar inside this massive, multi-story space is typically the focus for the roaring after-work and pre-nightlife crowds, the food is nice enough for a large business dinner, and should be given some credit.
The Spiced Duck Breast with braised leeks, sweet potatoes, and hibiscus carries an impressive amount of flavor, while the Arctic Char with peas, yukon golds, and bacon in a light, creamy sauce is well-balanced and expertly cooked, if otherwise unsurprising. The Roasted Cauliflower truly shines, however, and should not be overlooked as simply a vegetarian dish. With a crispy charred crust accompanied by wheat berries, golden raisins, and almonds, it makes you wonder why all restaurants don't offer such an elegant and hearty meatless dish.
At a formal dinner I attended with work, the Red Pepper Gnocchi was also raved about, with broccolini, stracciatella, and toasted hazelnuts complementing the creamy puffs, as was the Ribbon Pasta with braised short ribs, calabrian chile, and a hearty dose of parmesan.
Service is always, always slow, but in such a large space you wonder if it might be because they're understaffed and dealing with a particularly raucous group at the bar. Otherwise, for a chic scene with a slightly more professional crowd than the area expects and with food that feels more appropriate to a hotel, The Monarch Room is the trendy choice du jour.