According to the website this venue is a ‘multi-functioning, multi-sensory pleasure palace dedicated to the creative pursuits of dining, drinking, art and entertainment’. Entering through the downstairs bar, it is bustling and full of energy. We’re greeted by a member of staff and then led up a long winding staircase to the top floor room, where the restaurant resides.
The venue itself has many things going on as their tag-line suggests, but I think the most interesting aspect is definitely the ‘chef residency’ that rotates roughly every month – although some have stayed longer on occasion. A kind of up-market pop-up restaurant for up and coming chefs to showcase their talents – the current chef is David Ahern, showing off his take on traditional British ingredients served with a modern twist.
We were immediately introduced to the five course taster menu and walked through each of the dishes by the waiter. While there is a wide selection of wines and cocktails on offer, I’d recommend flipping over the taster menu to see the wine pairing menu overleaf before jumping in too soon. Each item on the menu has been paired with a corresponding drink- carefully selected and in some cases mixed to complement each dish.
The menu commenced with a canapé-like serving – a bacon-flavoured salmon sandwich with lettuce and smoked tomato – paired with a Prosecco cocktail. A fun and light way to kick off things off. Enough to whet the appetite and leaving you anticipating the next course.
Round two- without doubt my favourite course due to the superb wine pairing as well as the wonderful taste and texture of the food itself. Quails nest made from confit quails leg meat, spelt and herbs, lying inside a warm deviled quails egg, topped with quail breast and pickled berries. The perfectly cooked egg, breast, and fine quality berries were excellent. The drinks pairing was actually two wines combined- Gruner Veltliner, Kremstal from Austria with Elysium Black Muscat from California – when mixed giving a look of a fine aged Rose. It left me in no doubt that whoever prepared the pairing and the menu had a great attention to detail and respect for the intricacies of this dish.
Third up was a chowder -this was a DIY job of sorts in that each item was presented individually giving you the opportunity to survey the ingredients, enjoy the fine presentation and then mix together add the chowder soup to taste. I love rich and creamy dishes and this was a perfect combo for me, but my dining partner was less partial.
Fourth-up we were in for a treat; the waiter was very open about it being his all-out favourite… Braised beef cheek, finished sou vide (under vacuum), wild mushrooms, horseradish purée mustard mash, and beef tendon puffs with a black garlic jus. The delicious smell hits you from the outset. Paired with a lovely Palestra Tinto from Portugal, the mustard mash and horseradish purée mixed with the mushrooms and puffed tendons was mouth-watering for each new bite. A generous portion and excellent combination clearly well thought through.
Finally the dessert course. I enjoyed the presentation a lot; a fairground theme with candy floss cordial, toffee apple, sherbet and custard, and a pastry pop tart. We went all-in and asked for the drink pairing, a fruit slush puppie (which we swore had booze in, but couldn’t tell from the menu…) All in all, while the flavours and presentation were excellent, this course is highly dependent on how sweet your tooth is after the other four courses.
Overall this place is to be recommended- great for a group of friends or for a relaxed date. The service is highly knowledgeable, enthusiastic but just the right balance of attention delivered. Given that the resident changes every 3 months and the staff remain, this is testament to a good standard of training all-around.
House of Wolf and David Ahern provide an superb opportunity to appreciate a modern twist on much loved British fair at an affordable priced. If this was on the great British menu, I’d vote for it without doubt.
£42.50- five course taster menu and £25-00- drinks pairing menu
Tel: 0207 2881470
House of Wolf, 181 Upper Street, Islington, London, N1 1RQ