Our most recent Chef's Table event moved out into the suburbs to Wild Monk in La Grange. Do not let anyone tell you that all the great restaurants are in the city because our attendees can attest that Wild Monk redefines "high quality" in both food and beer.
Wild Monk is located at 88 South La Grange Road in downtown La Grange. For non-driving city dwellers, this amazing gastropub is only a few blocks from the La Grange stop on the BNSF line and the express train from the city takes less than 20 minutes to reach La Grange! That's faster than you can get to many Chicago venues.
According to their website, Wild Monk has a mission "to redefine what a modern Gastropub is and to create a lasting tradition of sustainable, high quality and locally sourced food perfectly coupled with man's greatest achievement- craft beer." Indeed, their food is superb and the craft beer list is one of the most interesting and eclectic you will find anywhere in the Chicago area.
For the recent Chef's Table event the staff at Wild Monk served up samples of many of their best signature items. We began with a reception cocktail - The Corpse Bride (Martin Miller Gin, Lillet Rose, Solerno Blood Orange, Fresh Lemon Juice) - a tasty riff on the Corpse Reviver.
While guests enjoyed the fresh, boozy cocktail they also enjoyed samples from Wild Monk's appetizer menu including:
- Lamb Lollipops – These were perfectly prepared medium-rare, crunchy on the outside, tender and incredibly well-seasoned
- Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Jam – Forget what you think you know about this under-appreciated vegetable. These are sliced, flash-fried, then served with a sweet-savory bacon jam. Wow.
- Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Romesco Sauce – You can never go wrong with a good bacon-wrapped date, and these were superior. The house-made, fresh Romesco sauce adds a perfect touch.
The main course consisted of four excellent offerings:
- Mini Monk Burger (beef patty, pork belly, zesty beer mustard, pepper relish, stout mushrooms, smoked Gouda) – We were served slider-sized portions, but the normal menu has this as a larger offering. The combination of beef, pork belly, and all the other ingredients gives this burger a complex, intriguing flavor and truly makes it stand out as unique.
- Fried Chicken Taco (flour tortilla, spicy Asian slaw, chipotle cream) – This is a simple preparation, but crunchy and layered with some spicy Asian flavors.
- Fish Taco (corn tortilla, achiote and orange marinated cod, jalapeño cream, pico de gallo, cilantro, tomatillo avocado sauce) – Again, a relatively simple preparation but the flavor combinations are intriguing, particularly the creamy tomatillo-avocado sauce.
- Sausage Flatbread (house-made Italian sausage, mozzarella, jardinière, spicy red sauce, balsamic & rosemary reduction) – This one was a huge surprise! First, the jardinière is an unusual ingredient on a pizza (at least in my experience). Both the fresh sausage and the jardinière add a kick to this flatbread, but the sweet balsamic reduction offsets the heat. Still, this one might make you sweat a bit so make sure you order a beer.
Speaking of beer, as a beverage pairing for the main courses guests were offered the option to pick anything from Wild Monk's extensive tap menu which changes frequently based on the season and what's new and exciting in the world of craft beer.
After the main course, the final cocktail was a truly special creation - their signature sangria. Many regular patrons come back to Wild Monk just to drink this mixture - an intriguing riff on traditional sangria, but with the zing of some gin and just enough fruit flavor to give the drink depth without making it sweet.
Of course, no Chef's Table is complete without a bit of dessert. Wild Monk served up samples of their Not Your Father's Chocolate Pudding (Rumchata, Godiva Chocolate, Cocoa Powder, Whipped Cream). This was a delightfully boozy, chocolaty ending to a superb meal.
Wild Monk is located at 88 South La Grange Road in downtown La Grange. For more information, call (708) 255-2337, visit their website or check out their social media conversations on Twitter and Facebook.
Chef's Table events bring foodies together in an exclusive, intimate setting. Each restaurant we visit takes care to show off its best, and each experience is exquisite. Whether it's barbecue and beer, tapas and sangria, or Italian and wine, each event is unique and is an ideal way to explore Chicago's culinary scene without spending a fortune.