How to Cook a Wolf is the trendy Upper Queen Anne restaurant I wanted to hate, but I have failed. Turns out that not only does it have a sexy decor that packs the place until late, but they really know how to serve a good, human meal that leaves me feeling nourished and excited.
I went in once about a month ago for drinks (it's very close to my house). Queen Anne is a kind of fancy neighborhood, but not the kind of place where a trendy restaurant would normally go. It's a bit of a credit to the 'hood that you can even get a drink at 11pm. They made us some kind of crazy pear margarita and, even though we were already full from dinner, we got some olives, just because the place looked so cool.
The olives were Castlevetrano… a rich, meaty bright-green kind that my girlfriend loves. They seriously are some of the best, and we vowed to make it back.
A month or so later, we did. We got the Octopus Salad, the Baked Polenta, and the Spaghetti. Japansese food has honestly soured me to octopus, but this was thick slices tossed with some kind of crisp bean (Controne) and parsely. It was meaty and nourishing and… we ate it with the gusto it was clearly designed for. The polenta was a super moist, milky polenta. Two rounds of it, baked crisp on the outside and sitting in a kind of rich, cheesy soup. My girl and I don't use serving plates, we just scoop out of the serving dish and it felt totally natural here. The spaghetti was simple and hearty with a huge pile of cheese on top. It was tossed with anchovy, garlic and chili. When we were done, the last few noodles were swimming in olive oil, which, although good, was a little much and discouraged us from eating every last noodle.
When I was there, I saw that they serve dinner every night until midnight. In my neighborhood, there's nothing else I know of that serves dinner after 10, and I don't have a car. So last night, after I was done with everything else I needed to do… I got a great idea. Why not grab my book and walk up to Wolf?
It was such a good idea. I got there just as the last of the dinner rush had cleared out, and I had the nearly full attention of the bartender. I didn't get far into my book. He picked my courses, poured me "half glasses" of wine to pair with everything, and generally made me feel like a king. I had the Escolar Crudo, the Treviso Salad, and the Meatballs. God knows what the wines were. Escolar is a really buttery fish I've had several times before as sushi. Here, though, they served it with an avacado puree and a little chopped grapefruit on top!
This is what you want to see in a restaurant like this. They're going to take chances, and more often than not, it's going to work. The salad was Traviso (something like radiccio) tossed with wine-soaked golden raisins. The meatballs were just a hot metal oven dish of four hearty meatballs cooked in sauce.
Look, I've been to plenty of fancy restaurants. I've been to plenty of trendy restaurants. How to Cook a Wolf is a place that sits me down and feeds me, goddamnit. That's what I like.