LA GRANGE – Step into Wild Monk in downtown La Grange and it's difficult to ignore a certain comfortable, yet chic feel that defines the bar and eatery.
A few Chicago Blackhawks banners adorn the dark walls, and a Chicago Cubs "W" flag hangs in the window. A mix of metal chairs and well-worn wooden stools line the bar and tables.
“It’s a minimalistic, comfortable environment,” said owner Demetri Kopley, who opened Wild Monk 5.5 years ago at the corner of La Grange Road and Cossitt Avenue.
The bar dominates one wall of the restaurant, which seats about 100. Twelve televisions, strategically located throughout the pub, broadcast all the Chicago sports teams. Outdoor seating is plentiful.
The environment is by design, Kopley said. His goal was to create a laid-back, relaxing atmosphere, where patrons could enjoy a wide selection of craft beer, along with an appetizer, sandwich or burger.
“We knew we were going to be craft beer focused,” Kopley said.
Indeed, the restaurant was named with craft beer in mind. "Wild" refers to the wild yeast used to make craft beer, and monks were the first people to produce beer, Kopley said.
Wild Monk has 35 craft beers on tap and offers another 30 in bottles. A selection of craft cocktails also is available.
“People do enjoy them,” said Kopley, who has worked with mixologists to create the restaurant's signature cocktail list.
Wild Monk offers craft beer flights of four 5-ounce samplings. Cocktail flights are available as well.
“If you’re a craft beer connoisseur, you know who we are,” Kopley said. “I try to focus on local breweries.”
Wild Monk has earned its reputation serving craft beer, but Kopley is equally proud of his menu, which is comprised of “upscale bar food,” he said.
Appetizers include steak, lamb and beef sliders, sweet potato fries and a Bavarian-style pretzel.
Calamari, seared scallops, chicken wings and nachos also can be found on the starter menu.
Brussels sprouts that are flash-fried, seasoned with lemon and sea salt, and served with a bacon jam sauce are a crowd favorite.
“Our Brussels sprouts are one of our biggest sellers,” Kopley said.
Wild Monk’s entrees include a 10-ounce grilled skirt steak, lobster macaroni and cheese, fish and chips, and chicken pot pie. The brisket sandwich complete with fried egg is popular with diners, he said.
Several times a year, the restaurant partners with a local craft brewery to offer a six-course meal. Each course is paired with a craft beer that complements the food.
Desserts recently were added to the menu and include turtle cheesecake, a chocolate chip cookie, brownies and pudding made with RumChata and creme de cacao powder, topped with whipped cream.
Wild Monk is ideally located at the southern end of La Grange next to the La Grange Theatre and often caters to the pre- and post-movie crowd. A good number of patrons walk to the restaurant from the adjacent residential areas.
“We have a wide demographic – young, old, all ages. We even have a kids' menu,” Kopley said.
He said time spent at his restaurant should be about more than food and drink.
"We're not selling food, we're not selling beer, we're selling an experience," he said.
If you go
What: Wild Monk
Where: 88 S. La Grange Road, La Grange
Hours: 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday; kitchen closes one hour before closing time