The lion and tiger may be more powerful, but the wolf does not perform in a circus.
Aptly named after my favorite animal, Marcel Vigneron‘s Wolf Dining LA is for hungry Los Angeles kids howling away into the long nights and looking for savory salacious delights pre nocturnal activities, or even during. As a creative and dark humored chef, his food designs are equally imaginative, with a pedigree of Food Network history to boast of. With a forte in repurposing ingredients and a personal penchant for gastronomy, this was exactly what this wolf craved.
The cocktail commenced with a strong ‘up’ drink, neatly titled Suit ‘n tie, with redemption rye, black dirt apple brandy, noyaux, angostura bitters. With a touch of sweetness from brandy, it was the bitters and rye that made this taste less of cough syrup and more like an sexy, boozy sip.
Next up were the burnt carrots, a particular feisty delight as charred flavors are one of my favorite profiles. These came with coconut, charcoal, passion fruit, tarragon, macadamia nuts and lime! A diabolical oxymoron of ingredients that I could have never imagined together, but where the sweetness of the coconut sauce, darkened slightly with charcoal, was a perfect offset to the citruses, nicely topped with bitter charcoal instead of tart salt. It almost felt like I was a rabbit, eating before being preyed on. And loving every nibble of it!
Being in California, I next opted for the gastronomical take on the baby kale salad. This one was fruitified with pickled asian pears, dried apricot, cucumber, almond dressing and a dollop of crispy quinoa. The twist on turning the crunchy nut into a dressing and the spongy grain into a crackle was very inventive, and the harmony of sweeter fruits rendered this usually bitter, healthy salad into a sweet delight.
One of my favorite dishes of the evening was a play on my favorite color red, with two extremely naturally red substances: beets and plums. Wildly imaginatively splattered onto a plate like modern art, there were visible pieces as well as sauces interlaced with yuzu, almond, berries, goat cheese snow and nasturtium. Technically this could qualify as a salad, but it was the most inventive looking pairing of your average beet and goat cheese salad that I had devoured many times. Art on a plate could not get more out of the box. In fact, there was no box!
Of desserts, I opted for the conservative sounding chocolate ganache tart, only because I knew that by this point, it would be anything but ordinary. Arriving as a Christian cross of thick, dense and shiny chocolate that I almost licked from the server’s fingers, it was on a bed of honey brûlée, cashew ice cream, fully cut persimmons and bee pollen. The chocolate itself surpassed every expectation of indulgence, and the bee pollen added a crunch that honey would have glossed over. The citrusy fruits were sprinkled with pomegranate arils, my favorite of all fruits, which were an offset to the hearty cashew ice cream, again a smart textural choice for a heavy nut. In one scoop, it was a dizzying balance of fully dessert savvy flavors.
Truly, this wolf does not perform in the circus, because he rules the night.