Thornton's unofficial mantra is "if you are led like cattle, you will be fed like cattle." When entering the venue, the address of which you will only receive the morning of the dinner and are admonished as to its secrecy, you are immediately struck by the decor.
The night's menu is posted on the refrigerator in the large open kitchen. Guests are invited to take a seat at the communal table.
Tonight, we were in for nine courses.
In keeping with the theme of carnage, Thornton defies tradition and begins with a meat course. This was a great start. I especially loves the broccoli tempura. Also, I'm not sure what he did to the pink lady apples but they were just about the flavorful apples I can remember. As you would expect, the ribeye was perfectly cooked.
skate, crab, delicata, candied lemon glee, carrot, carrot parsley, turnip, persimmon
The fish course was fantastic giving us bright flavors and wonderful textural interplay between the skate wing, crab, and squash. Carrot was present in both juice and raw forms. The parsley oil added just the right highlight.
yellowfin tuna, ponzu-yuzu, shiso creme fraiche, yuzu kosho wasabi pea crunch, snap pea, avocado
This was my least favorite of the savories, but still nothing I would turn down by any means. The ponzu had a very deep smokiness, a feature of which I am generally not a huge fan. The wasabi pea crunch was my favorite part of the dish.
rabbit croquette, jicama remoulade, dried cherry, pineapple,johnny cake, jerk soubise, plantain
The rabbit croquette was all meat with no unnecessary filler. Great, especially with pineapple.
pork belly, lobster, yam, green apple, green apple gelee, squid ink pork lobster sabayon, sweet potato lakte
This was my favorite course of the night. The texture of the lobster against the pork was absolutely divine. The sabayon and the green apple gelee provided perfect flavor balance.
And now a vegetarian course. Great presentation. Thornton really seems to have a talent with apples, which I think showed up more than any other ingredient throughout the meal.
quail, baby kale, creamed spinach puree, date, almond, haricot verts, cipollini
Our final savory course brought fried quail. The meat was succulent and went very well with the spinach puree. A highlight of the dish was the orange blossom soaked date.
milk chocolate peanut butter pretzel crunch, mustard parfait, pretzel, cajeta, banana
The first of two desserts won almost universal accolades from guests. Not being a fan of peanut butter, I cannot personally comment too much on this dish. Mustard was an interesting addition.
mandarin orange, mandarin vanilla lime ice sorbet, green tea, yogurt steam cake, pistachio
The second dessert was much more to my liking, and probably one of my favorite desserts ever. Light flavors, but in perfect balance and very refreshing.
A great feature of Wolvesmouth is that guests are encouraged to bring drinks and share. We were not lacking in good wine, beer, whiskey, and cognac. Some of the highlights:
The icewine and the Municipal Winemakers Syrah were our contributions. Municipal Winemakers has a tasting room in Santa Barbara we visited during a recent wine tasting trip. Highly recommended if in the area. I am very glad I brought the Pacific Rim icewine since it paired absolutely perfectly with the final dessert. Everyone was very willing to share their drinks.
Between courses we were invited to mingle and watch the action in the kitchen.
At the end of the meal you are given an envelope and are asked to pay whatever you want.
This was certainly one of the best dining experiences I have ever had. Many chefs would not be able to pull off dishes with so elements so successfully. The menu constantly changes based on what are the best ingredients available. The inventive food along with the setting and the communal atmosphere make for a wonderful night. I highly recommend signing up the mailing list and starting to request dinners. It seems most people had been trying for a few months before getting an invite, so do not give up. It is well worth the effort.