Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wolf Creek Restaurant and Brewery

Wolf Creek Restaurant and Brewery
Nice rustic brew pub in a strip mall in Valencia

We got held up on I-5 (it's not "the five" until you pass the Grapevine) at some construction traffic, delaying our arrival in L.A. by almost an hour. Since most eating places close at 11, we had to stop for dinner sooner than we'd planned--distance-wise, if not time-wise. Google Maps helpfully told us that there was a cluster of restaurants in Valencia, around Magic Mountain Parkway and McBean Parkway. And a little further north on McBean was an intriguingly named brew pub called "Wolf Creek."

It has the look of a mountain lodge, all wood and wrought-iron interior, though the owners are native Californians (according to the hostess). They were celebrating their tenth year, impressive for an independent restaurant, though the growth of the suburbs probably has something to do with that.

Right off the bat, they impressed us with the house bread: warm and fresh, with an unusual garlic-olive dip that we couldn't stop eating. As is our usual habit when at a brew pub, we ordered the spinach and artichoke dip as well. This one was a clear winner, very creamy with a sharp cheese, like an asiago. The spinach and artichokes balanced nicely, neither one getting lost or overwhelming the other. The multi-colored tortilla chips were unremarkable, but didn't need to be anything more than a conveyance for the dip.

Balsamic vinaigrettes have as much variation as spinach and artichoke dip, if not more. They can be oily, creamy, sweet, sharp, tangy, spicy, herby, garlicky, and so on. The salad we got was unremarkable--fresh spring greens and I remember little else--but the dressing had a great bite of mustard, which I love. We've just started attempting to make our own dressings, and I keep looking at the Dijon in the fridge and remembering the dressing at Wolf Creek when I do.

Compared to the starters, the main course was a slight letdown, though it was still quite good. We ordered a lightly breaded chicken breast with sun-dried tomato pesto, and we got two flat chicken breast fillets (as opposed to the thick full right-off-the-bone breast cuts), perfect for splitting. The problem with fillets is that they dry out so easily, and that was unfortunately the case here. Not too dry, but not as juicy as they should have been. And the pesto, while tasty, was a little on the bland side.

Still, all in all, the food was quite good, and the service was beyond reproach. We're clearly not the only ones who thought so, because several of the people at the bar were regulars. We did ask the waitstaff whether the owners were transplanted from Colorado or Wyoming, but as far as they knew, the owners were just Californians "who really liked the mountain country."

Hey, that's cool. So are we.

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