532 S. Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90020
Dining date: 6/28/11
I first went to a Wolvesmouth dinner in January and have been itching to return. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to – it continues to get more and more popular and, thus, seats are even harder to come by.
As a way to reach more people, Wolvesmouth (Craig Thornton) and team did a one-night dinner at new Koreatown bar Beer Belly. It’s an ideal match – the bar is closed Tuesdays (i.e. an available kitchen), and there’s plenty of brews to pair with the food. The set-up: two seatings of 28 people each sold first-come, first-served online; 6 courses for $50.
In addition to the beers offered at the bar, a unique set-up wherein wines purchased from Domaine LA were discounted and delivered straight to the bar, waiting upon arrival. Pretty sweet.
Bread from Bread Lounge started off the meal, as well as a barley malt butter.
Corn Soup crab, corn fritter, jalapeno, cilantro, buttermilk, lime
I do not hesitate in saying this was the best corn soup I’ve had. Probably the best corn-centric dish I’ve had. Seriously. The corn lent a mild sweetness, as did the crab. The lime, paired with the crab, really elevated the dish for me by adding some light acidity – a perfect complement to the creamy corn soup. Really well-balanced, for sure.
Black Truffle Risotto chive, parmesan
I had heard rumors of this dish and was really looking forward to it. For a six-course meal at $50, I wasn’t sure this could really be pulled in.
The rice was al dente, while the onions gave a slightly acidic taste to it. The risotto itself was executed well. The truffle flavor was fairly subtle; if anything, I would have preferred to pay a little more for some additional truffle flavor to bring it to the forefront.
Blue Lake Beans yellow wax beans, summer squash, peach, cider, salted yogurt, granola
Craig made it a point to note these were not French haricot verts; rather lesser-known blue lake beans. These had a buttery flavor; all of the vegetables were warm, contrasting the cool fruit. Speaking of fruit, the peach was notably juicy and delicious. I thought the tart yogurt did a good job of counteracting the sweetness inherent in the fruit, while the granola added a sweet, earthy flavor.
Lamb potato puree, dill, horseradish, lingonberry
Maybe the most anticipated dish of the evening – this did not disappoint. The lamb was very tender (cooked rare/medium-rare) and not at all gamey, while the horseradish and lingonberry added a spicy and sweet accompaniment, respectively. The potato puree was excellent as well, with a little bit of a tart note (creme fraiche or sour cream added?).
Cornbread Ice Cream fig, brown butter short bread
This tasted exactly as advertised, with just a little sweetness. I thought this was pretty tasty with the crunch of the brown butter shortbread, while the fig added a slightly sweet, fresh flavor.
Creme Fraiche Vanilla Panna Cotta strawberry, vanilla pound cake
I was disappointed for this dish to come since I didn’t want the meal to end. The pound cake soaked up much of the sweet strawberry juice, working well with the mildly sweet panna cotta. A little bit of pop rocks added an extra fun texture to the dish.
This dinner exceeded expectations. I try not to rave about a meal unless absolutely warranted, but I really liked this one. I was afraid that maybe it would be a “diluted” version of Wolvesmouth for the masses, but it wasn’t. It was true to the Wolvesmouth style, just abbreviated to six courses. Perhaps not quite as creative as my last meal, but I didn’t mind (the restraint was welcome). It was unique enough, executed well and quite delicious – again, I’m already craving a return visit. Given the success, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is just the first of many Wolvesmouth meals at Beer Belly.