Frances Cottrell visits the House of Wolf restaurant in Islington.
The House Of Wolf, named because wolves have a pack mentality, thus representing the team, and because the owners have always thought them ‘cool’ is a new drinking and dining concept in Islington.
The House Of Wolf is a three storey building on Upper Street with a ground floor bar, a mid level cocktail den and a top floor loft restaurant. The idea of cool runs through the concept from the juxtaposition of the venture in a traditional pub, to the website and design, the presentation and description of the fantastical cocktails, and the choice of chef residences it houses.
Our evening began in the Apothecary Cocktail Bar which serves ‘experimental elixirs’ largely inspired by Victorian themes. The bar is very dimly lit and even reading the menu was a bit of a struggle, but the decision to order a David Bellamy was an easy one. The creativity is evident, and the level of effort which goes in to each drink is really quite extraordinary.
So, quite some time later, our drinks arrived, undoubtedly fabulous and we greeted them with real enthusiasm. It was a shame that staff here weren’t so effusive and ultimately the wish to engage with them about the drinks dwindled rapidly.
So then upstairs to the chef residency: Blanch & Shock (although each month a different collective will be invited to host). Thankfully the lighting and staff were much improved here, and the room itself is beautifully understated with light touches of quirkiness.
The six course menu began with hunks of homemade bread, which were delicious and moreish. The second course was sadly a serious low-point though, and raw prawns wrapped in lardo were almost inedible. But, fortunately the following seabass, duck and then exquisite beef courses were absolutely delicious.
A lightness of touch and creativity with good quality (often foraged) ingredients was a pleasure, and the chefs personally presented the majority of dishes to us. These charming men proudly presented each plate, expertly communicating the construction of the dish, and this added a real sense of occasion to the evening. Textures of apple for dessert were scrumptious, but as with all courses, you were left wanting slightly more.
The House Of Wolf is about to launch a Sunday lunch menu that is bound to be an antidote to the traditional roast dinner, and the Blanch & Shock run has been extended, I assume due to its popularity. The space is very interesting, and I think with a little more charm from the cocktail bar, could become a great success.
Address: House of Wolf, 181 Upper Street, N1 1RQ
Phone: 0207 288 1470
Please note that the House of Wolf closed in February 2015.