Review: The Bear and Monarch.

Within the past year, numerous hotels in San Francisco have been opening up hip restaurants.

A few months ago I dined at Villon inside the Proper Hotel and Gibson inside the Hotel Bijou and both were pretty solid though I preferred Villon. The newest restaurant to join their ranks is The Bear and Monarch inside Loews Regency where the chef has previously worked at notable fine dining restaurants such as The French Laundry and The Restaurant at Meadowood. The cuisine at The Bear and Monarch could be considered more approachable than the food you’d find at those high end restaurants but still demonstrates technique and refinement. Since the restaurant is inside a hotel, they are open all day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) but of course the dinner menu sounded the most intriguing.

Sourdough Bread with Kogi Butter and Sea Lettuce (8/10).

Warm slices of sourdough bread were served with a tangy sour koji (a type of Japanese fungus) butter and seaweed powder. The butter itself was salted quite heavily so the additional Maldon salt on top was unnecessary. Once we picked off the Maldon salt crystals on top, the butter was on point.

Fire Roasted Squash Blossoms “Shu Mai” with XO Sauce (8/10).

Inspired by a traditional Chinese dumpling, shu mai, this creative take featured squash blossoms stuffed with pork then coated in a spicy funky XO sauce.

Scallop Terrine with Daurenki Caviar and Dill Crème Fraîche (8/10).

The creamy smooth scallop terrine had a sweet yet tangy crème fraîche layer on top that enhanced the delicateness of the terrine. The vibrant dill oil and fresh dill added brightness to the dish.

Ocean Trout Pastrami with Fermented Turnip, Grilled Rye, and Salmon Roe (6.5-7/10).

This was the weakest dish of the meal, not that it was bad but it felt disjointed. The ocean trout was cured nicely with pastrami spices but the rye bread on the side was almost burnt. The fermented turnips in the middle didn’t have much flavor and I was expecting more of a pungent strong taste.

Spinach Tagliatelle Carbonara with Bacon, Peas, and Fried Egg (8/10).

Not a traditional carbonara but this pasta dish was still tasty. The tagliatelle was nicely coated with the creamy sauce with sweet spring peas and meaty bacon. I didn’t care for the sunny fried egg on top and would have preferred just an egg yolk in the middle to mix into the pasta.

Fried Chicken with Charred Asparagus, Spring Onions, and King Trumpet Mushrooms with Potato Purée and Shiitake A1 (8/10).

The crunchy fried chicken had a nice crispy exterior while the meat was tender and piping hot. The potato purée was luscious and velvety and the charred vegetables were good (could use more seasoning). The shiitake A1 had an earthy flavor that complimented the dish.

Everything Cereal Donut with Strawberry Frosting and Marshmallow Ice Cream (7.5/10).

Definitely a playful and fun dessert. The donut itself was airy and light coated in a sweet strawberry frosting topped with marshmallow ice cream. At first I was skeptical about the dessert but the more I ate it, the more I began to enjoy it.

For being open for about a week, I’d say The Bear and Monarch was overall pretty solid. The food served was tasty and fun and I’m sure hotel guests would be thrilled to dine there. Therefore my rating is a 7.5-8/10.

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