Wolvesmouth Underground Dining
Dining date: 7/13/13
Chef Craig Thornton’s Wolvesmouth concept has continued to grow in popularity. It’s been written about time and time again (see this New Yorker write-up) and Thornton has even taken the show on the road, hosting dinners in NYC. While Thornton and team have been working on opening up a full-time brick-and-mortar restaurant, they’re continuing to host private and public dinners in the LA area.
It’s been a full year and a half since I dined at a Wolvesmouth dinner (though there was that collaboration with Miles Thompson of Allumette for Le Grand Fooding a few months back) and I was glad to be back. It was coincidentally the night before my birthday, so it was a great place/meal to celebrate the occasion.
As usual, the evening’s menu is scrawled on a piece of paper on the refrigerator. This evening’s dinner would be nine courses. Unique to these underground dinners is the ability to see everything happen right then and there – nothing’s hidden, and interaction with the staff is commonplace.
ribeye cap, poblano, tortilla cavatelli, cotija, squash blossom, corn salad, peach
Like a sushi chef beginning a meal with toro, our first course featured rich, juicy ribeye cap. It was delicious, especially when paired with the cold, sweet peaches. The cavatelli and corn were also pretty tasty and I loved the fried squash blossom adding some crispy texture.
zucchini, lobster, masago, charred eggplant, yuzu kosho, padron, green tea ricotta, tomato, basil
Sweet lobster and tomatoes sat in this zucchini soup. The flavors were well-balanced, and I was glad to find the fried padron pepper to be rather mild in heat.
halibut, lettuce, bacon profiterole, sungold, tomato onion jus, romaine aioli
Moist halibut was bathed in a tomato-onion jus, while a romaine aioli and sungold tomatoes provided some fresh bite. The bacon profiterole, stuffed with smoky bacon bits, was definitely a nice touch.
rabbit, snap peas, snake beans, nectarine, rabbit, black sesame rabbit bao, snap peas
I loved the presentation of these black sesame baos. The skin of the bao was slightly more dense than I expected, but I enjoyed the glutinous skin and flavorful rabbit meat inside. Completing the duo, the fried rabbit ball was crispy and moist with a good amount of accompanying acid to cut through the richness.
pork belly, beet, beans, watermelon, pickled green tomato, cheddar fritter
Tender, rich pork belly was balanced by the cool, refreshing watermelon and sweet beets. Along with the cheesy fritter, beans and a tart sauce completed each bite.
squid ink pasta, potato mascarpone, parsley oil, lemon gelee, potato crunch, clam, clam sabayon
This was an interesting looking dish. A flat, chewy pasta hid clams and a creamy potato mascarpone mixture. Loved the crunch of the potatoes and the brightness of the lemons to complement the sea flavors. Very unique take on a squid ink pasta.
quail, green gazpacho, muscat, romano beans, almond, cherry, mint, grilled cucumber
The fried quail here was delicious between the crispy batter and moist meat. The green gazpacho provided a cool, refreshing feel to offset the quail.
With the conclusion of the savory courses, we moved onto two desserts.
melon, yogurt steam cake, lemon lime verbena ice, olive oil lime parfait, yogurt, lime curd, almond crunch
dehydrated strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, tuile, pistachio cake, meringue, buttermilk panna cotta
I appreciated the balance of sweet and tart flavors with the first dessert. For the second, the textures were the highlight between the crunchy dehydrated berries, fresh berries, and fluffy pistachio cake.
This was my favorite Wolvesmouth meal to date. I’m curious if this is reflective of the chef’s evolution or if the menu just happened to agree with my palate this evening, but this was excellent from start to finish. I especially liked the ribeye cap to begin with, the interesting take on the squid ink pasta, and the fried quail dishes. With the ever-growing popularity of these underground dinners, it’s hard to know when I’ll be back…but I hope it’s soon.