Top Chef alum Marcel Vigneron, a minimal-chic location on Melrose, and plenty of buzz. It's a formula that virtually guarantees hotspot success. So when we visited Wolf on Melrose only 7 weeks into their highly anticipated opening, we weren't totally shocked that the place was all booked up. The space is surprisingly a bit small and seriously lacking in natural light; a large white wood door hides the interior from the street, with only a few windows flanking it that slightly open up the space. But what it lacks in space, it makes up for in wood-laden decor and minimal, industrial details. This simplicity is mirrored in the pared-back menu, which has a small selection of snacks, plates, sides, and desserts. But don't worry-- there are plenty of drinks.
I ordered the Thai Hi-Five, a light and citrus-y gin driven drink with coconut oil and lemongrass. It was really sweet and fresh-- almost like an alcoholic lemonade. I actually wish I could've tasted the lemongrass a bit more, and a hint of spice could've gone a long way in adding a bit more depth to the drink. Kyle went off menu and ordered a Gold Rush, which he seemed to enjoy.
The snack section of the menu features the usual suspects-- a baby kale salad, a hamachi crudo. But we went with the burnt carrots, which was a nice surprise. The carrots had a really nice texture: a bit crunchy but still tender. The moments when we got a bite of every element together, it really worked. It was definitely a tasty carrot dish, but it seems like a bit more of a side dish than an appetizer.
Next up was the Beef Cheek, which was a wonderfully large slab of tender beef cheek in a flavorful tumeric peppercorn sauce. The cheek was really good-- very tender and flavorful. Though this wasn't the most complex dish on the menu, it was certainly satisfying.
Of course, we had to get the Obligatory Brussels Sprouts dish. The brussel sprouts were good. The fish caramel gave them a sweet, saltiness that was really nice, while the turnips were a surprising addition. I think the dish could've used a bit more acid and brightness.
For a side, we got the Crispy Potatoes and were pleasantly surprised when it was a pretty decently sized side dish portion. The potatoes were really nice and crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside. The chive aioli provided a nice creamy element, but I wish there was more of it. I think the dish actually could've been a bit smaller (and subsequently cost less) as it was a very filling side dish.
Our final entrée were the broiled scallops. The scallops themselves were cooked perfectly. However, I was rather let down by the rest of the dish. With a description of "kohlrabi, ginger lemongrass emulsion, and grapefruit," I was expecting something light, bright, and acidic. But instead, elements like the kohlrabi and oxalis were served hot, and the grapefruit was warm as well. Aside from just being a bit odd and jarring, the higher temperature caused the bright flavors to get muddled and lost.
Kyle and I both enjoyed the meal. But there were elements that we didn't love. The food was good, but there are definitely some dishes that could use a bit more thought (which is understandable for a new restaurant).The space feels cramped and small, and it doesn't help that the diners are squeezed in so close together that it actually gets uncomfortable. And though the portions are pretty sizeable, it was a fairly pricey meal. Overall, it seems like Wolf may already be getting too trendy for its own good. We would definitely give it another shot, but have a feeling that in the next few weeks, it might get even more difficult to make a reservation.