Welcome to the Wolvesden
Pop-ups are tomorrow’s food trucks.
The bleeding edge of food fanaticism right now is underground dining.
And the hardest seat to score in underground dining is one at the Wolvesden.
What’s the Wolvesden?
It’s an underground dining society run by Chef Craig Thornton, otherwise known as Wolvesmouth. A perhaps bi-monthly dinner in a secret residence, seating 8 to 12 guests per night, serving up 12 to 15 courses of whatever Craig feels like cooking. And he never repeats a dish.
Picky eater? The Wolvesden is not for you. You don’t get to order. Craig cooks, you devour. That’s the pact.
(L-R) Photos courtesy of @Amyshungry
How much would you expect to pay for a meal like this? Well, how much would you? That’s the question you must answer as it’s pay what you feel it’s worth. This one’s not about commerce. It’s about food as art, food as obsession and food as manifesto.
Make no mistake. This is not a restaurant. There are no servers, no white tablecloths, no rules. Think of it as a dinner party with new friends. With a one-man kitchen.
Craig shops, preps and cooks solo. A departure from his days at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro in Las Vegas. This is chef as auteur.
Bring enough alcohol to share liberally and your sense of adventure.
On the night we visited the Wolvesden, we were given an address to turn up to and a phone number to call once there. Where is it? Suffice to say “somewhere in LA”. This is underground dining, after all.
The night’s menu.
Sweetbread, potato, leek, chive
Skate, brown butter, carrot, sage
Beet, valdeon cheese, pineapple
Dungeness crab two ways, cauliflower puree, frozen grapes, tarragon
Arctic char, butternut squash puree, rye bread fritter
Heirloom tomatoes, bacon pound cake, bacon, basil, balsamic
Rabbit, tortilla puree, pickled red onion, huitlacoche, poblano
Duck, duck skin, sauce, green onion, cucumber
Wild boar, parmesan polenta, parsley, orange jus
Short rib, bone marrow stuffed prune, black truffle coffee meringue, chanterelle jus
Foie gras shortbread, praline vacherin, bitter caramel poached pear, Earl Grey panna cotta
Caramel corn ice cream, apple, peanut butter powder
This was 12 courses of inventive, thoughtful, boundary-pushing food. Tastes that skipped as easily from subtle to powerful as from comforting to shocking. In a meal of many highs, the comfort of the sweetbreads with potato and leek soubise stood out, as did the sweet and smooth butternut squash puree and arctic char, Craig’s play on Peking duck perfectly sous vide with duck skin crisp, the brightness of the wild boar and parmesan polenta, and the beautiful subtlety of the Earl Grey panna cotta and the foie gras shortbread.
It’s a shame you’ll never see these dishes again. Craig doesn’t repeat dishes.
But score an invitation to the Wolvesden and you’ll discover favorites of your own.
Well, that’s a secret.Wolvesden firstname.lastname@example.org
** My photos from this dinner were also published by the LA Weekly to accompany their story on the Wolvesden.