In the evening I went to House of Wolf in Islington who have a rather silly website. Instead of having a full time head chef, they invite a series of chefs for a “popup residence” for a month or two. Currently, it’s Dave Ahern, formerly of The Ship in Wandsworth, The Alexandra in Wimbledon, Ben’s Canteen and most recently his Burger Breakout project. At the House of Wolf, there’s a big bar downstairs, a smaller “reservations only” bar on the first floor and the restaurant on the second floor. The only option is a five-course tasting menu, there is no a la carte.
The first course was SBLT (bacon salmon, lettuce and smoked tomato) in a toasted sandwich. The bacon flavour worked really well with the salmon, a really good starter. Sadly, the photo was not usable due to a focussing issue.
The next course was a “quail’s nest”. Warmed deviled quail’s egg in a nest made from confit quail leg meat, spelt & wild herbs with quail breast and pickled berries. I didn’t find the devilling of the egg very strong but all the flavours and different textures went well together.
Chowder: Scallops, mussels & cod cheeks with cubes of bacon and sweetcorn milk jellies & fish broth. Perfectly cooked pieces of fish and seafood came in a bowl, with the rich and very flavourful broth served in a separate jug. The jellies were really intense adding long lasting bursts of flavour to several spoonfuls of chowder. This was the most interesting dish and my favourite.
The main was a beef cheek, slowly braised for 12 hours so the meat was really tender. The sauce was a strong reduction of the braising liquid combined with black garlic. The potato and horseradish purrees as well as the mushrooms were excellent, too but the most surprising element were the beef tendons. They go through a long process of boiling, dehydrating and finally deep frying and come out like really good pork scratchings, just with a strong beef flavour. Marvellous.
The dessert was called “Poptarts & Lollipops” but obviously not that simple. The crispy poptart was filled with poached rhubarb and the lollipop was a toffee apple. The small jar contained “beer custard”, a combination that worked really well. The only element that was a touch too sweet for me was the candy floss cordial but everything was a pleasure to eat and drink.
An excellent way to spend an evening. The company of my old friend Maria who I hadn’t seen in almost two years meant three hours went by in a very short time.
As this tasting menu shows, Dave Ahern has come a long way from pub food and gourmet burgers and I am looking forward to his next venture.