Dave Ahern cooking up a Storm at the House of Wolf:
I’ve now been to the House of Wolf three times. The first time was for the launch, the second to review the Apothecary and the set menu provided by Blanch and Shock. This time, The Apothecary was temporarily shut, but we were there to review Dave Ahern’s menu. I rather like the top floor restaurant and if I lived in the area, I’d be there more often. It has just the right mix of eclectic charm and comfort for me. And the odd stag!
Now, a lot of London food writers know Dave. Beside being a rather fine cook, he’s a charismatic individual who, for whatever reason, decided to become a pro chef just before he was 35 After working at the Ship, the Alexandra in Wimbledon and Ben’s Canteen he’s ended up doing a residency at The House of Wolf, alongside building a support kitchen to help the homeless. The last time I ate his food was at Ben’s Canteen – and very good it was too. So, I was intrigued.
The tasting menu at House of Wolf this time was a kind of anarchistic deconstructed approach to food. Our first course, salmon-bacon, lettuce and tomato a club sandwich with cured salmon used instead of bacon. Nice, but for me a little spoilt by the bread. I loved the cured salmon but, thought the dish lost some delicacy by being pinned in between two slices of toast. Or was that the point?
The next course was a good step up, both my version with quail and quail egg and that of my pescetarian companion, The Hedonist who was served heritage beets instead of the quail with the pearl spelt, wild herb and pickled berry salad. My quail breast was tender and moist with the runny yolk of a perfectly cooked quail egg adding depth to the dish
Chowder was my favourite dish of the evening. A really good mixture of fish served with an ‘add as much as you want’ fish broth, bacon and sweetcorn jellies and milk rolls. Delicate and beautifully balanced, I could have stopped at this point and eaten one or two more servings.
But, my next course of Beef Cheek arrived. A sticky, rich and meaty dish, perhaps a little more solid than I might have liked but full flavoured comfort food served with a tiny morsel of crackling like beef tendon.
My companion’s Mustard Gnocchi with wild mushroom looked wonderful and was, apparently, full of umami flavours – not that I got to taste!
On to dessert, an amazing looking red fruit slush puppy appeared. Now, I rather liked this – but then anything with prosecco and raspberry will work for me.
The rhubarb pop tart looked, well, like a pop tart. But the pastry was beautifully crisp and the filling anything but pop tart like. I enjoyed the apple lollipop with sherbert dip too. Beer custard was just a bit too bitter for me and I couldn’t get beyond the sugar water taste of the candy floss. Maybe that was the point?
Experimental does have to be just that. And here, I would say most of the experiments worked very well. A few elements just didn’t quite gel for me, but personal taste is perhaps the issue.
Obviously, the best solution is to go along and try for yourself. And, Dave is only there until the end of April, so you’ll need to get your skates on!
House of Wolf
181 Upper St,