Marcel Vigneron’s Wolf is bringing in a full pack of diners. This practically-brand-new Melrose Avenue hot spot is sleek and chic, with a cool menu driven by deceptively simple fresh ingredients and a taste that is as varied as Los Angeles itself.
Vigneron is a former Top Chef contestant who is hardly a stranger to the LA restaurant scene having worked at the SLS Hotel’s The Bazaar in Beverly Hills. Wolf, named for Vigneron’s mother, brings flavors from Thailand, Japan, and the Middle East to diners, creating quintessentially LA dishes that mix international flavor with what Vigneron calls zero-waste cooking. This whole food concept utilizes every possible edible part of a food, “from seed to stalk.”
The result is a richness of flavor that moves from craft cocktails featuring house-created tinctures and herbs to enlivening representations of fish, meat, and vegetarian concepts. While a number of dishes are sourced to appeal to carnivores, others have a vegetarian or pescatarian bent, such as the Miso Black Cod or Burnt Carrots. Vigneron has also planned a completely plant-based dining concept called Beefsteak next door to Wolf with an as yet-to-be-determined opening date.
Welcoming service and flavorful food are both hardly a surprise under the hand of Vigneron, who has traveled worldwide, working with renowned chefs, but learnong the basics of his culinary skills from his mother as a child. Restaurant general manager Sean Perman made his way from New York City server to open Matthew Kenney’s Plant Food + Wine across town in Venice before opening Wolf.
Stand outs on the menu include the Broiled Scallops, a deceptively simple dish redolent with lemongrass and grapefruit; the tropical flavor of the Burnt Carrots, which include sweet coconut cream and passionfruit; the Not Your Grandma’s Chocolate Cake, a decadent sweet that somehow remains light, featuring Gianduia ice cream, candied hazelnuts, and yes, edible gold.
Try the simple but stunning Castelvetrano Olives as a starter, the fresh, salty olive flavor is matched by preserved lemon, rosemary, and harissa. While beet salads are somewhat de rigeur in LA, the Beet and Citrus salad here offers an intense variation made with beets, orange, avocado, fennel, yuzu, and almond. There’s nothing quite like the delicate pattern of the Hamachi Crudo in terms of presentation, except perhaps the exceptional flavors in the mix of nuoc cham, kumquat, radish, herbs, and puffed rice. A mind expanding main plate offering is the White Miso Black Cod, prepared delicately with watermelon radish, bean sprouts, dashi, and spicy wasabi greens.
The brunch menu gives LA mainstay Roscoe’s a run for its money with Chicken and Waffles that come with buttermilk, maple butter, and a pungent hot sauce. Also on the brunch menu, Chai French Toast, made using brioche and whipped maple cream. Perhaps the signature brunch item is the Tortilla Espagnole, a deconstructed version of a Spanish omelette that includes cage-free egg, potato, onion, pimentón, and aioli.
Overall, this is a lush menu in a great-looking space, and a concept that creates whole-food based recipes bursting with contrasting flavors and textures – a welcome gourmet destination on Melrose Avenue.
Wolf is open for dinner from 6 to 10 Tuesday through Saturday, and serves brunch from 10 to 3 on Saturday and Sunday.
7661 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046