Never Leave LA

Wolfin’ Down at Wolvesmouth

Last week, my friend, Jason, sent me an email asking if I was interested in attending a Wolvesmouth dinner. Jason raved about both the Wolvesmouth and its seafood-focused counterpart, Sharksteeth dinners that he attended before. Immediately, I was intrigued by this ultra-exclusive dining opportunity.

 

The concept of Wolvesmouth is the most unique I have experienced. Considered the hardest reservation in Los Angeles, scoring an invite feels almost like winning a small lottery! The process is unique and begins with providing your email address for their mailing list. At the beginning of each week, they send you an email stating the dinner seatings for the week. If interested, you must send a separate email for each dinner you would like to attend within a day or so. You can try to reserve up to 2 seats.  They determine the invitations by creating a mix of first-time diners and repeat clients by mid-week and send email invitations. Jason and I felt disappointed when on Wednesday evening, there were no invites in either one of our inboxes.

Saturday morning, I woke to a pleasant surprise. Jason had gotten a text from the Wolvesmouth manager saying that there had been a cancellation, and they were offering the seats to us. With no hesitation, Jason and I enthusiastically took the offer. We were sent an email specifying details and information for the night. This included the secret location (a home in Los Feliz), BYOB details encouraging us to bring drinks, and other logistics. This was the time that we could disclose any dietary restrictions as well, as they only share the menu upon arrival. We were eager for a fun, delicious, and exciting meal. We prepared ourselves for the meal by watching The New Yorker’s short documentary highlighting Chef and Artist Craig Thornton’s path to Wolvesmouth.

With our bottles of rosé and red blend in hand, we arrived 15 minutes early, as suggested. As stated in the informational email, Wolvesmouth dinners start promptly, and any tardy diners miss dishes they are not present for.  Upon arrival, Caleb, who played host and manager for the night, welcomed us and pointed out the menu, where we could place our wine, and asked us to choose seats.

The open kitchen and dining area made for a culinary atmosphere, unlike anything you could have in a restaurant. My closest comparison was when my husband and I had the dinner tasting at Grant Achatz’s The Aviary in Chicago. We were seated at the only table in the kitchen but were still separated from the action by a large counter. While it was fun to watch all the action in the kitchen, the separation made us feel like bystanders rather than participants. At Wolvesmouth, you’re made to feel as if your best friend is a Michelin- starred chef, and they’ve invited you over to dinner. The proximity to the kitchen, and the encouragement to walk around, watch the action, and the ability to ask questions engages and excites any diner that loves fine dining, food, or cooking. The casual atmosphere makes all diners feel welcome and appreciated.

The Wolvesmouth concept uniquely pairs fine dining with a casual atmosphere. While most restaurants serving this caliber of food require jackets for men, and a dress code for women, Wolvesmouth’s attitude toward dress can be summed up by their FAQ section stating, “Just don’t show up naked, because that’s a little weird.” Diners are sent the message that this experience is all about the food, and all pretentiousness should be left at home.

Our meal included eight courses and served promptly started at the scheduled seating time. Caleb explained that Wolvesmouth meals generally started with a bold and heavy dish in order to entice diners interest in the meal. This was a completely different approach compared to the amusé bouche tastings typically found in most fine dining restaurants. The first course featured steak with beet jelly and a horseradish slaw. The beautiful plating of the dish and bold flavors within the dish set the tone for the entire meal.

Between each course, Jason and I got up, walked around to watch the excitement in the kitchen, and refilled our wine glasses. Most of those expecting a traditional fine dining experience might find the casual and interactive atmosphere almost uncomfortable. I found the laid-back atmosphere refreshing. This dinner was the only meal where I had clear and easy access to those preparing my meals. Because of my immense interest in food, I always ask my waiter lots of questions about ingredients, preparation, and technique. In this situation, I had access to those actually preparing my meal, and I was able to ask questions as the course was being prepared. The friendly staff engaged us in conversation and invited us to watch the preparations. I found myself in a food lover’s dream!

My favorite courses were the duck raviolo and ocean trout course. The duck meat in the ravioli was rich but unexpectedly light. It was not weighed down in grease or fat, as most duck can be. The masterfully skilled chefs created a perfectly balanced dish. The ocean trout combined light fish flavors with soy and citrus. All dishes were plated beautifully. Considering Chef Craig Thronton works as an artist, this comes as no surprise. Each plate displays an edible work of art and features bright colors made from unusual ingredients. The duck raviolo was finished with a vibrant purple drizzle made from butterfly peas.

The meal consisted of eight high caliber dishes (including two dessert dishes!) that could be found at any fine dining establishment in Los Angeles. The thoughtfully planned atmosphere combined with a well-executed meal made for the most unique dining experience in Los Angeles. Caleb ended the meal by passing out traditional Chinese red envelopes and informing the group that we could anonymously pay what fits each individual’s budget and the value of the meal. In this way, Wolvesmouth has created a fine dining experience that is inclusive of all socio-economic statuses.  In so many ways, the Wolvesmouth team creates a financially accessible and unpretentious atmosphere with food worthy of a top fine dining restaurant.

Learn more LaLaScoop about our first Ceremonial experience with Wolvesmouth, around 5 years ago.

 

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