With its natural wood bar, vintage French movie posters, and eclectic feel, Autre Monde Cafe could be in some trendy Chicago neighborhood, but it’s not. It’s in Berwyn, and that’s a good thing. If it were otherwise, I’m sure I’d never have gotten in on a Friday night without a reservation, even at the bar.
The Best Seat is at the Bar
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, in many restaurants my favorite seat is at the bar. Often, a restaurant’s ambiance can feel more vibrant at the bar, the service can be more personal, and you can get a better feel for the restaurant’s personality. This is true of Autre Monde, a Mediterranean restaurant in west suburban Berwyn.
My sister and I walked in on an unseasonably warm Friday evening a little before 7, so of course the restaurant was buzzing with people, but we were able to find seats for two at the bar right away. The bar was full and the bartender a bit overwhelmed, so another staff member jumped in right away to get our drink order. Autre Monde has a unique cocktail menu as well as an extensive wine menu that includes wine from the typical Mediterranean countries like Italy and Spain, but also includes wines from Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro. With the help of the knowledgeable staff, we each ordered a glass of wine and got down to studying the menu.
The menu at Autre Monde includes both hot and cold small plates, entrees that can be eaten solo or shared, and daily specials written on a chalk board above the bar. Since I have a hard time with long menus that could pass for novels, I appreciate the brevity of Autre Monde’s menu, but in spite of its conciseness, there is plenty to choose from. We started with a cheese plate; creamy Burrata cheese served with crunchy garlic, a tomato fondue and toasted bread. The rich and creamy Burrata was complimented wonderfully by the tangy tomato and crispy bread drizzled with olive oil. Next up was the Grilled Octopus L’Escala. The tender octopus was cooked perfectly and was served with roasted grape tomatoes that burst in your mouth. One benefit of eating at the bar is that I don’t feel obligated to order a full meal and at a restaurant like Autre Monde, you can eat at a leisurely pace by ordering at will, plate by plate. Autre Monde’s menu is filled with items like house made flatbread, braised smoked lamb shank and goat cheese tortelacci, but we were completely satisfied with two small plates and I did not feel compelled to order anything more… except dessert.
Hauntingly Good Cheesecake
I’m typically not a huge cheesecake fan. Too often, restaurants serve a dense triangle of flavorless paste that passes as cheesecake. This is definitely not the case at Autre Monde. Their cheesecake is a delicate round cake drizzled with honey, sprinkled with lavender and served with a sugar cookie. To be honest, Autre Monde’s cheese cake has been plaguing my thoughts for a week now. When you go to Autre Monde, order the cheesecake, but you have been warned, the lavender, lightly sweet honey, and crunchy sugar cookies will haunt you.
Should I Stay (Home) or Should I Go?
A place like Autre Monde would be a hot spot whether in the city or in the ‘burbs. The menu is strong, the wine list is excellent, the ambiance is vibrant, and the staff is well trained. If you don’t live in the Western suburbs, try it out the next time you see a show at Fitzgerald’s or visit friends in or around Berwyn.
Autre Monde Cafe is located in Berwyn, Illinois at 6727 West Roosevelt Road.