Dinner & a Movie: Wolf, Two Ways"/>
The Dinner: Sliced baguette with Sicilian olive oil, skate with capers and lemon, semolina gnocchi with a crisp parmesan crust, bourbon-caramel bread pudding and a glass of oatmeal stout at How to Cook a Wolf (2208 Queen Anne Ave. N.)
Benicio! You look starved!
The Movie: The Wolfman, at downtown's Regal Meridian 16
The Screenplate: Hi. Not sure how I got here. Normally I live in this corner of the world, writing about things that aren't food and movies. But when Mike Seely offers you cash-money to take your girlfriend on a date, you'd be a fool not to take it.
That little preamble should be warning enough that I'm not a foodie. I can cook. But I can't recognize How to Cook a Wolf chef-owner Ethan Stowell on sight.
I can, however, use Google. So I know enough to know that Stowell is not the man who made my delicious, drool-inducing meal last night. (Seriously, re-read that dinner line-up and tell me you aren't making a little mess on your chin right now.)
So let's start there.
|Ethan Stowell wasn't there. And the meal was still delicious.|
Why is this important? Because How to Cook a Wolf (according to Yelp) is always crowded. And last night was no exception.
To avoid a long wait, me and the Missus were forced to post up on the last two seats at the cork-surfaced bar. The curved wood interior and strips of battered brass at Wolf make you feel as if you've taken shelter under the hull of a rusted-out Viking ship. Take that visual a step further and you'll see us, half-blocked by an oar at the back of the boat.
Sitting behind the espresso machine offered a perfect vantage point to watch the forearm-tatted non-McDreamy cook our meal. And excellent proximity to staff meant good eavesdropping, like when the waitress told her fellow server that he looked like "that skinny guy from 'Juno.'" (He didn't. But you could see how she thought so.)
The aisle seats gave the evening a more casual feel. We were less paying customers, more acquaintances at a really well-catered dinner party. A relaxed vibe that felt consistent with the chef's personal delivery of our skate dish, and the helpful way he told us that there was a whole hidden section of meat on the other side of the wing.
(The mark of a good chef: the guy who recognizes two newbies in his dining room yet finds a way to drop knowledge without making them feel like the amateurs they are.)
The skate came off the bone looking like spaghetti squash and was so tender it nearly dissolved. The gnocchi were the size of mutant scallops, and the girlfriend and I fought for the chance to scrape the melted bits of parmesan off the bottom of the mini roaster they were served in.
Best yet was the bread pudding. Which miraculously got finished, despite the fact that both of us feigned full bellies before it arrived.
As for the The Wolfman. Well, there's a reason I waited this long to bring it up.
Are you one of those people who doesn't read reviews of movies you know you're going to see? Bless you, my son, and your will power made of iron.
I am not that guy. So I already knew coming in that, despite a great cast, the remake of a 1941 Lon Chaney classic had potential-howler status, thanks to a middling score of 44 from Metacritic.
In Wolfman, Benicio Del Toro is a successful American actor who returns to his father's (Anthony Hopkins) English castle to investigate his brother's violent death and shoot the shit with his widow, Emily Blunt. (Qualifications: Beautiful bug-eyes for optimized expressions of terror. Status: Met.)
Normally, low expectations make for a good movie-going experience. If nothing else, the promise of Del Toro transforming into a flesh-ripping (not to mention bodice-ripping) man-demon when the moon gets full could mean some cheap thrills.
But no. Not so much.
The Wolfman is for a very specific type of person. The kind of person who likes gory flicks about guys who turn into wolves, but likes excellent Victorian-spook production values even more.
Are you this person? Maybe. But I'm sure not.
(And do you think CGI wolfmen just don't thrill the way those hand-made, plaster and make-up doggies do? Me neither.)
So while you may be able to blur your vision and just enjoy the fact that Del Toro, Hopkins and Blunt are all sharing screen-time, if you actually focus you'll notice that there were put in a film that tries to earn its scares on the cheap. Lots of blood. No scenes that made your screams go blood-curdling.
Wolf, two ways. But only one of them worth sinking your teeth into.