Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

I've been going to and enjoying my friend, Alona Cooke's restaurant, Capri, in Venice for as long as I've lived here. It's always been great and reliable and a wonderful neighborhood hang. Alona always hosts interesting wine tastings, and cook book signings and art openings, even weddings, but it just got real exciting in there with the arrival of the "pop up" restaurant within a restaurant, Wolf In Sheep's Clothing.

Two chefs and best friends, Brian Dunsmoor (formerly of Hungry Cat) and Kris Tominaga (Joe's, Axe) have taken over Capri's kitchen for an experiment that has now turned into an extended stay, and they're clearly having fun together, while also turning out food so good that I believe I coined a term the first night I was there ... it was "emotionally delicious". Meaning the bites I had were eye-rolling, chill-inducing, rapturous morsels of joy. No hyperbole.

The joint has been jumping since they opened for biz a few weeks ago, and it's an absolute Who's Who of Venice every time. Waves and hugs and happy smiles are exchanged between neighbors and strangers alike ... when I was there last week, I think I knew almost everyone in there. And we were all STOKED.

It's pretty small plates, and there's a lot to choose from to try (and reluctantly share). You MUST start with the biscuits (of which there NEEDS to be more than two on the plate, Guys, c'mon!). Piping hot butter biscuits served with Southern style pimento cheese, apple butter and persimmon got us off to a mouth-watering start. I'm drooling on my keyboard right now at the mere memory. Now I'd never think I'd be into cold fish in a jar (!) but the rainbow trout served with avocado toast, sliced egg, and herb salad with little chunks of salt was so good I didn't know what to do with myself. Shows me.

Other highlights I shared: Lots of wine. Broccoli and pork cheek. Hanger steak with escarole. Sand dabs. Bay scallops. Brussel sprouts. Persimmon salad. Kale salad ... (We all shared it all, ok) and the delish apple pie with cheddar cheese (high praise because I consider myself fairly authoritative on apple pie. In fact, both meals I've had (so far!) were shared with Alona, and when I asked her what the best thing about the whole deal was for her, she said, "Having friends over for pie". Delightful!

The whole thing is just a joy, from the super friendly and informative staff to the signs and art drawn on butcher paper by Brian's girlfriend, Lacey K. Cowden.

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing ... remarkable! They're open for a completely great evening all nights but Mondays, from 5:30-ish to 10:30/11-ish (Venice hours). No reservations unless it's 6 or more. You should get there, have some fun, and know what it means to have an emotionally delicious meal. Soon - while it lasts!

***Update - Wolf in Sheep's Clothing is now open in the former Lilly's space on Abbot Kinney. It is the same in name only, as the original Chefs Dunsmoor and Tominaga have now opened their own place on Melrose, The Hart and the Hunter. Get there!

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