Wolvesmouth Underground Dining
Dining date: 11/22/13
It’s been a busy year for Craig Thornton and his Wolvesmouth team. His underground dinners have continued to be in high-demand, easily the most noteworthy of its kind in the city (and perhaps country). The success of his underground dinners has spawned collaborations and events across the nation, notably in NYC and his ‘Cut Your Teeth’ residency at the Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoa).
I was the lucky invitee as a guest of someone that got a reservation to this public dinner. Held in downtown, the decor of the dinners has continued to evolve, getting deeper into the wolf’s den theme. The SMMoa installments have really delved into connecting the dining atmosphere with the food for a more complete experience, and Thornton has brought more and more of that into his regular dinners.
Per usual, the meal was a multi-course progression of dishes prepared in a completely open kitchen.
ribeye cap, broccoli, black bean coconut soubise, mint aioli, plantain, queso fresco
The meal started strong with a juicy piece of ribeye cap. The meat was as delicious as expected, complemented by grilled fruit and crunchy plantains/broccoli. The black bean coconut soubise was an interesting sauce, providing depth and a mild sweetness.
crab, cauliflower, apple, turnip, cabbage, cider
Loved the vibrant colors, this dish featured sweet dungeness crab and bright fruit flavors. Crisp fruit and turnip added delicate texture.
arctic char, mascarpone onion jam profiterole, candied lemon gelee, romaine, snap pea
The fish was cooked well, moist and flaky. The candied lemon gelee was a fun way to add citrus and acid, complementing the fish nicely. Mascarpone-onion profiteroles were something different with a filling that was a little creamy and a little sweet.
rabbit, poblano, hook’s cheddar puree, sopapilla, jicama, dried cherry
The rabbit croquettes were delicious – moist and flavorful on the inside with a nice exterior crunch. The poblano and cheddar purée, tasting very much like a curry, provided a ton of depth. The sopapilla, dustin in sugar, was an ideal way to mop up the sauce.
pork belly, squid ink pork jus, orange blossom almond, blue lake bean, piquillo pepper and puree, potato, parsley, squid ink aioli
Rich tender pork belly was paired up with a very interesting squid ink aioli and jus. The squid ink provided a deeper flavor profile to the pork while the almonds and piquillo pepper added a touch of sweetness to each bite.
squash, cocoa coffee, parmesan frico, hen of the woods, kale, rosemary
I liked the way this dish looked, keeping within the wolvesden/forest theme. The ball of creamy squash filling was a little sweet, balanced by earthy mushrooms and a slightly bitter coffee bean crumble. Loved the mix of smooth/crunchy textures.
quail, pickled green tomato, candied peanut, beet, deviled egg, pinquito bean, corn nuts
The fried quail was really delicious – juicy and flavorful with a crunchy batter. Cooked perfectly. Sweet grapes, smoky beans, and a deviled egg puree provided the accompanying flavors.
crepe, hazelnut sable, cajeta, pear ice, buttermilk vanilla panna cotta, pear
The bruleed crepe was kind of fascinating – loved the texture and the caramelized sugar. The crepe hid a light buttermilk vanilla panna cotta, pear and hazelnuts; everything was brought together by a rich goat’s milk caramel.
black sesame steamed cake, olive oil lime parfait, green tea ice, lime curd, almond, green tea
Our last course was a balance of flavors from the nutty black sesame steam cake and almond crisp to citrusy olive oil-lime parfait and lime curd. The moist steam cake was a highlight for me, as was the refreshing green tea ice. A sliver of persimmon lent the right amount of natural sweetness, showing off the product in its season.
This dinner was another strong effort from Thornton and the Wolvesmouth crew. I always appreciate the chef’s creativity, crafting a host of flavor combinations that most diners likely haven’t had together. Highlight dishes for me on this evening were the delicious ribeye cap, perfectly cooked rabbit croquette, juicy fried quail and the bruleed crepe with cajeta and panna cotta. Wolvesmouth dinners continue to be one of the most unique (and understandably, exclusive) dining experiences around and I continue to highly recommended it.