How To Cook A Wolf

Posted by Brandon |

One of the best things about having a kid and not going out on dates as often as we used to is being able to go to nicer places than before. Our one date usually equals the four we would've gone on two years ago. So that's why we ended up at How To Cook A Wolf before we went to the Seattle Rep for a play on Saturday night.

We got there at about 5:15 and were informed that it would be an hour and a half for a table but could be seated immediately at the bar - so at the bar we sat. It's a very comfortable place to sit, unlike most bars, and watching all the action in their little tiny kitchen is interesting. We were very impressed with how they use their available space. The kitchen is probably smaller than our kitchen, and we don't have a big kitchen by any means. They really get the maximum out of the square footage that they have.

I expected How To Cook A Wolf to be much more trendy and uncomfortable and pretentious than it was. It was actually kind of cool and laid back, service was friendly and helpful and everybody seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves. Perhaps it's pretentious for Seattle standards, but I just spent three years in the Los Angeles area - I know pretentious when I see it.

On to the food. Plates were bigger and more substantial than I was expecting, but overall it was kind of a mixed bag...

Bread - Great bread from Columbia City Bakery, served with olive oil and some olives. I don't like olives, but Death? was really into them.

Buffalo mozzarella with shaved fennel, green apples and red onion - The cheese was great with the fennel and green apples but the red onion and parsley were a little off-putting.

Seared scallops - Scallops were perfectly cooked and tasty. Too bad there were only three of them ($6 per scallop) and the sauce that they were in tasted like ranch dressing and not even good ranch dressing - like Hidden Valley light ranch or even fat free.

Frissee salad with oil poached tuna - Tuna was great but overall the salad was all over the place. The red onions in the mix were unbelievably overpowering. One bite that included red onion got up into my nose like horseradish does and I had to take a minute to let it clear. The onion stayed with both of us and we were tasting it throughout the play. A Coke at intermission was the only thing that helped kill the flavor.

Cavatelli - Absolutely delicious. Perfect pasta with hedgehog mushrooms, cheese and cream sauce. The highlight of the night.

Gnocchi - Not really gnocchi, made from semolina, they were more like polenta cakes than anything. Covered with a little bit of cheese and butter, they were delicious. Perfectly creamy - almost like a fried piece of cheese. We ordered the gnocchi after finishing everything else and deciding we wanted one more thing. It took almost half an hour to come out and we were sweating getting to our play on time, but the waiter did give us a free half glass of wine each to make up for it and since we'd gone dry that perfectly complemented the dish.

Booze - Both of the wines Death? got were great and the oatmeal stout beer that I drank was delicious.

My biggest problem with the meal is that there was nothing mind blowing. In fact, I'm no cook, but quite honestly, I think that I could make reasonable facsimiles of those dishes at home. The buffalo mozzarella was just a hunk of cheese with some sliced stuff. The pasta, while very good, wasn't very complex. The scallops - well, I'm bad at cooking scallops, but I have some Hidden Valley Ranch in the fridge right now.

That being said, we didn't feel ripped off by the meal and we weren't upset about it any way. In fact, we really enjoyed ourselves at How To Cook A Wolf. I just doubt that we'll be back or if I would really recommend it to others.


Anonymous said...

Meh, that's how we felt as well. We didn't feel ripped off, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone either. My thoughts from a year ago are here:


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Becky said...

I hadn't heard of the place before, but in looking where they are, we've probably driven by it many times. Ted and I keep talking about dialing back our eating out in order to have more "date-like" evenings at restaurants that we would actually look forward to go to, rather than what's convenient or has decent parking around it. We, uh, just haven't made the change yet.

SUEB0B said...

One of my pet peeves is restaurants that call something that is not gnocchi "gnocchi." Just give me my floofy little potato dumplings! (Angeli Caffe on Melrose in Hollywood does a great job).

Krista Kenner said...

This is exactly how I felt about this place. I think we ordered almost the same thing too. Gnocci was great, but overall, I was left wanting more.

Erik said...

In the states, we tend to see one type of gnocchi, so many think of that as the only gnocchi. Gnocchi is sometimes loosely translated as "dumpling", and there are several popular types in Italy. I haven't had that dish at Wolf yet, but it sounds like you're describing gnocchi alla romana. Try not to get so peeved SUEBOB.

I've taken friends to Stowell restaurants, and they've also dismissed the food as simple, and thus think they could make it just as easily. I think they're missing the point, though. It seems what he's doing is trying to use good product, and keeping the ingredients to a minimum to let the quality of the food speak for itself. I totally appreciate that. A perfect balance of acid, sweetness, richness, etc. becomes more difficult to pull off without tons of fancy ingredients to confuse the palate. Anyway, just my 2 cents.