Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing @ Capri - 12/02/2011

1616 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 392-8777

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing is the new popup concept from chefs Brian Dunsmoor (Axe) and Kris Tominaga (Joe's Restaurant). The duo dubbed their restaurant Wolf in Sheep's Clothing in a nod to the way popups hide inside other restaurants. The duo previously had a brief run in November, but December 1st marked the end of the soft opening period. The food seems to be in line with other restaurants in the area like Gjelina and Tasting Kitchen so I was curious to see how the new upstart would compete with the established kids on the block.

midas touch, dogfish head
The Midas Touch has been one of my favorite beers since I first tried it. Supposedly brewed using an ancient Egyptian recipe, this bear incorporates muscat and saffron into a fruity heady elixir.

idiot ipa, coronado
This was a classic IPA, all crisp citrus and pine notes and hoppy kick, the bitterness helped cleanse the palate between

marinated green olives
A gift from the kitchen, these were among the best olives that I've ever tasted. The bright green olives were surprisingly mild, tempered by a blend of citrus and herbs that gave them a delicious savory touch.

local squid - shelling beans, garlic, pea tendrils, grilled bread
The first thing I noticed when this dish was brought to the table was the heavenly aroma of butter coming off of the grilled bread. The tender squid and garlic provide a savory punch contrasted deftly by the pea tendrils. Though I don't normally care for beans, I found their weighty rusticity quite pleasing in the context of this course.

baked oysters - creamed spinach, bacon, shrimp
This was one of the best preparations of cooked oyster that I've ever had and a contender for best dish of the night. The attack is all creamed spinach and bacon with the oyster adding an underlying brine. A bit of lemon juice improves the dish substantially, adding a clarifying depth that enhances the other flavors and brings the oysters more into focus.

quail - cornbread, dandelion greens, smoked maple
The bird was reminiscent of a roast chicken with rosemary but with more depth of flavor from the quail. The maple adds a sense of sweetness that compliments the cornbread while the smokiness makes sure the bird remains the focal point of the dish.

country pork fritter - bread & butter pickles, hot mustard dressing
Our waiter said this dish was getting rave reviews and it was easy to see why. The batter around the pork is lithe and crunchy while the interior exudes a rich porcine sapor without being overly heavy. The marinated greens and sweet pickles add a piquant levity that further tempers the pork.

mischief golden hoppy ale, the bruery
We finished with a local beer, The Bruery's Mischief, a Belgian style pale ale. The beer offers some typical spicy yeast and fruit with a strong hoppy bite on the backend.

butterfish - cockles, miners lettuce, fennel, salsa verde
Living up to its name, the fish is dense and satisfying the salsa verde and fennel give the fish a herb-y pesto kick. The fish actually gets a bit lost under the greens but the cockle helps bring it right back. On their own the cockles are a bit overwhelming but they work beautifully with the rest of the dish.

sprouting broccoli - pork cheek, chili vinaigrette
This was another strong contender for best course of the night. The crisp vegetal greens literally sang in conjunction with the spicy bite of the chili vinaigrette. The bold flavor of the vegetable stood up to the pork cheek which was like a crouton of molten fat, adding depth and richness to the broccoli.

hanger steak - anchovy and olive butter, charred escarole
Exemplifying the gimmick free mantra of the restaurant, the hangar steak is accompanied by butter and greens and little else. The meat is cooked to a perfect temperature and the expressive beefy flavor comes through in every juicy bite.

mushrooms - sweetbreads, puff pastry
The final course of the night was an unabashedly heavy sledgehammer of butter, sweetbreads and mushroom. The slab of sweetbread looked intimidating but the flavor is fairly mild with a faint eggy tinge.

pickles of the day
An eclectic mix of pickles, featuring radishes, green tomatoes, shiitake, and Asian pear, this was the perfect palate cleanser for the heavier meat dishes like the steak and sweetbreads.

apple pie - hooks cheddar
I've never cared much for apple pie but this was a pleasing departure from the norm. The pie itself is surprisingly mild and the white cheddar adds a palpable savoriness.

warm lemon curd - shortbread cookies
Though straightforward in design the dish was like an optical illusion; the flavor kept alternating seamlessly between sharp tart lemon and a unctuous savoriness.

Truthfully I didn't know what to expect with Wolf in Sheep's Clothing but I walked away very impressed. The courses feature expertly prepared ingredients highlighted by simple effective combinations and contrasts that are easy to appreciate. Chefs Dunsmoor and Tominaga stated that their goal is to create gimmick free rustic country fare and they deliver that to a T.


Rodzilla said...

Similarities to wolvesmouth seem to end with pop-ups and the name. Straight forward dishes don't usually excite me as much, but it's hard to miss with cornbread and apple pie.

Anonymous said...

No joke, this food is amazing. Highly Recommend.

Epicuryan said...

Yeah I wasn't that enthused just looking at the menu, but the execution was spot on.

Anonymous said...

The aesthetic is quaint, from the candles to art to the food to the people. . I had a notable experience! Let me tell you, apple butter and biscuts! Not to mention, smoked trout on toast and cannelini bean and kale soup! Hit the spot on a chilly eve. You are so right about the oysters! Rest assured I will be returning to hit all the menu. Bravo!

Epicuryan said...

The restaurant goes for an unpretentious rustic feel and does it perfectly. You might want to go back quickly, I suspect they are going to get busy as word gets out. I myself wouldn't mind making another trip after the menu changes a bit.