Foodies in LA are familiar with Craig Thorton and his amazing underground dining club Wolvesmouth. It was written up in magazines including the New Yorker . To join you have to sign up their mailing list for upcoming dinners notifications, usually about twice a month. You sent in request for the desire dates and they would randomly pick guests. There’s no fix price for the dinner which usually came in from 9 to 12 courses. You “donate” however you feel like as it’s not an actual business.
I’ve join Wolvesmouth’s mailing list way back in 2010 as soon as I heard about it from a friend and have been sending requests since. More than 2 years have past and I had never gotten in. After awhile I started to doubt if I would get in at all, especially seeing so many other food bloggers being able to go to the dinners again and again. Chances seem slimmer after the New Yorker article came out.
The dinner is held at the Chef’s loft at Downtown LA. It’s BYOB. There were about 16 guests total and we all sat at a communal table. The vibe was causal and friendly. Craig and his team prepare the dinner at the nearby kitchen that’s no different from most kitchen in most newer apartments.
Didn’t expect to start with something so rich like venison for first course, but it actually worked well to whet your appetite. The pairing of the ingredients is interesting and fantastic (you’ll hear me repeat this a lot for the rest of the entry), the multiple flavors went so well together. It’s fresh and bold. I also like the bloody and seemingly gory presentation. One of the best dishes of the night.
Can’t go wrong with raw tuna and ponzu sauce. The Squid ink yuzu kosho tofu creme gave a nice umami-ness to the dish. The snap pea were a nice touch too. Light and fresh.
This dish was one of the most memorable of the night for me. The roasted squash was delicious but it tasted exceptional when paired with the other stuff on the plate: the coffee cocoa powder gave a nice earth nutty flavor and aroma and the coffee lime yogurt add a touch of acidity. One of the top dishes of the night!
A solid fish course, but it’s not as interesting as the others. Yet I enjoyed it nonetheless. The cashew garlic puree was great.
This dish was probably my favorite of the night. The pork belly was amazing! Paired with lobster reduction, it’s so tender and melt in your mouth. The lobster fritters were delicious. The fruitty sides and radish gave a nice acidic and refreshing balance to the meat.
The previous course was so amazing that this one became a little pale in comparison. I did enjoy the rabbit meatballs and I love the harrisa (Morocaan hot pepper sauce) and remoulade. I’m not sure the crepe add that much to the dish though.
I was getting full here so I’m glad we’re near the end. The fried skin of the quail was nicely crisp. I like the fried green tomatos. Overall it’s probably the least interesting dish of the entire meal, but it’s still a solid dish.
8th course: Chocolate tofu mousse, banana puree, pistachio cake, frozen dried banana
We got two dessert courses. Hard to go wrong with the combo of chocolate, banana and pistachios. The frozen dried banana tasted like banana ice-cream. Light and not too sweet.
9th course: Black sesame cake – citrus curd, pop rocks, black sesame parfait, mandarin
I always love black sesame dessert and always wonder why you don’t see them more often in restaurants here. It has a nice aroma that goes so well with sugar. The black sesame cake and parfait are both very good and works so well with the acidic citrus curd and mandarin slices. Love the sprinkles of pop rocks!
It was a very very satisfying meal from start to finish. I’m really glad to finally be able to taste Craig’s inventive menu. Good thing I didn’t give up! At the end of the meal they handed out Chinese red envelopes for donation. You placed it inside this alligator jaw that’s at the center of the table. Considering how much you usually pay at restaurant for multi-course dinner, I figure that’s how you pay according. The New yorker article mentioned guests paid an average of $90 for the dinner, I say it’s definitely worth the price or even more. Usually Craig and his team break even for these events.
There are rumors that a Wolvesmouth restaurant will open somewhere in downtown. But I don’t think it’ll be the same because the wider public would be less interested in these kind of dishes.
I highly recommend getting on their mailing list. There’re actually many guests got chosen on their first requests. Lucky them!