Let me just start by saying that I can not say enough good things about Autre Monde… but I’m going to try. This place is AWESOME! Honestly. FABULOUS! Really. AMAZING! I absolutely LOVED it! Seriously. TDF! (There… how’d I do?)
An hour before we were supposed to leave to drag our asses out to Berwyn, I debated bailing, wondering if it could possibly be worth it considering all of the tasty restaurants that surround us right here in the city. Boy am I glad we stuck to our plan!
We were lucky enough to attend a tasting where we sampled soooo many amazing dishes. I am completely and thoroughly convinced that the good and kind people at Autre Monde can do no wrong.
We started at the most adorable bar for a couple of delicious and well put together cocktails. I was already excited just sitting there as the decor is something of a combination of a French bistro and country house. As we would soon find out, the food is somewhat of a reflection of that combination as well, but add Italy and Spain to the mix. Yes, please!
Our first taste was of a flatbread with Pancetta, Broccoli Rabe and Talleggio Cheese. Rich and fab.
I think I may have danced a little in my seat at the sight of the grilled octopus. I love grilled octopus. Especially when it’s made juicy with sweet little tomatoes, capers and EVOO. They call this version ‘L’Escala’ which is Spanish but I’m pretty sure both the French and the Italians do something pretty damn similar and equally as delicious.
I’m also a big fan of bitter stuff. Yes, people. Get over it. Bitter is good. This Grilled Winter Salad was simple and wonderful: bitter and acidic and salty. The salt factor came from the marinated white anchovy. “Not your mother’s anchovy,” they say. Indeed, it is not!
In the top right corner of this picture was one of my most favorite, and surprising, tastes of the night. The house smoked mackerel pate almost made me fall over. I was surprised that I loved it so much since I’m not normally a smoked fish kinda girl. All rules out the window at Autre Monde. It was absolutely amazing.
With a little assistance from the professionals, the grilled fresh sardines were enjoyed around the table as well. They’re done in the style of ‘agrodolce’ which means ‘sweet and sour’ but not in the sticky, orange, I-don’t-want-to-know-what’s-really-in-this-sauce sauce. It refers to the addition of sugar and vinegar in the onions. It’s topped with pinenuts and raisins. Very Siciliano.
And now the pasta. HEAVEN! And you all know what a completely unapologetic snob I am about pasta. Apparently, at least some of the Autre Monde peeps came from Spiaggia. I’ll take this pasta over Spiaggia’s any day. True statement. Perfect texture, perfect bite, super flavorful filling and sauce (ok… so it’s cheese and butter… hard to go wrong there). Wonderful.
The lasgane was equally good. It was very classically layered with Bolognese and bechamel and sprinkled with parm. I love it when simple is done perfectly. It’s kinda glorious.
Not that there was anything wrong with it, but you can have the pappardelle with tom sauce, mozz and arugula. I’ll take another tortellacci (did I mention that it had black truffle on it too? Oh yeah…).
As if that wasn’t enough (and it was), the lamb shank arrived. Smoked, then braised with tomato, this baby was (obviously) falling off the bone directly into a frighteningly creamy (mascarpone?) polenta. Slurp!
A couple of sides, too, of course! Chickpeas with spinach and lemon were a nice counter part to the richness of the previous few plates and I’m always a sucker for some big ol’ fat butter beans (they’re my fave bean ever).
Maybe my least favorite was the green beans with potatoes and smoked goat cheese. Hey, something had to be the least favorite! Not bad, but not drool-worthy.
Decadence continued with a pistacchio & caramel tart as well as a chocolate custard. Wow and wow.
Yes, I loved the place, the people and the food. This is the place I wish was near me. I love that the menu is so balanced. There are tons of fish, veg and meat options as well as charcuterie, cheese and other snacks. Not all of it fatty and heavy, in fact, I’d say it’s quite the opposite. Lots of real flavors and real flavor combinations unmasked by the cheater ingredients we so often see on menus these days (you know… bacon, pork belly, cream, butter, cheese). So impressive.
The Short Version (Out of 10)…
Overall impression: 10
Would I go back?
Wish I was headed there tonight! You should probably go soon.