Building a following with craft cocktails and gastropub fare
For foodies, it’s always tough when you discover a hidden gem. Do you tell all your friends, or keep it to yourself to boost your odds of getting a table easily in the future?
At Whiskey and the Wolf, that’s a dilemma that didn’t present itself, as from the moment we walked through the door it was clear that the cat was already out of the bag.
A stop at the cozy gastropub on Alexis Road (the former re-location of the Elbo Room) on a Friday night around 6:30 had the party already in full swing. While Whiskey and The Wolf bears little resemblance to the former Elbo Room, it retains a comfortable, neighborhood feel. The crowd was comprised of a mix of ages, from young millennials to Baby Boomers.
The room’s navy blue walls and dark wood accents provide an intimate feel. While little details enhance the feeling of hospitality: real flatware, like you’d find at a fine-dining restaurant; a sconce for every booth, allowing you to read the menu despite the room’s romantic lighting. Despite the crowd and piped-in music, there is no trouble hearing a dining companion across the table.
We selected, as an appetizer, the potato croquettes, both because they sounded delicious, and how often are you offered a croquette these days? The little pillows of goodness were a mixture of mashed potato and Havarti cheese, coated in panko bread crumbs and fried. We tried the regular version and the loaded, which was the evening’s special, and all agreed that while loaded was good, the basic croquettes could easily stand alone, with no embellishment.
Old favorites, with a twist
Whiskey and The Wolf’s menu is only one page, which doesn’t make the choices any easier. The variety of sandwiches made it difficult to choose. The roast beef offerings, listed in a separate menu section, were definite contenders, but the perch sandwich was also tempting. One member of our party considered the DBLT – double bacon, double lettuce, double tomato – and the Grilled Three-Cheese Magic before settling on the Crispy Chicken Thigh sandwich, while another member of our party ordered a Chicken Cobb salad.
The food arrived at the table artistically plated.
The roast beef sandwich (which won out, this time, over the perch sandwich) was sliced thin and piled high, with horseradish sauce drizzling down the sides. The chicken thigh sandwich was tasty, and crispy as promised. The charred broccoli with parmesan side was a welcome option served in a portion with enough to share.
It would have been a great meal even without the Bananas Foster for dessert, but the warm, caramelized bananas over vanilla bean ice cream, split three ways, was the perfect ending— to the meal, and the work week.
What’s in a name
When restaurateur George Bardwell (who runs the restaurant with his brother Tony) stopped by our table, we eagerly ask him a pressing question: what’s the story behind the name? “The story is, there is no story,” Bardwell said with a laugh. “My brother and I went back and forth for months trying to come up with a name.”
Bardwell’s brother, Tony, lives in Chicago, but the two are so close that running the restaurant together long-distance over the last eight months hasn’t been a problem, he said. “We talk on the phone constantly,” he said, “but then, we talked constantly before we opened this.”
They grew up just a few blocks from their new venture and both have years of restaurant experience. And while Bardwell says their mutual love of the business makes being partners easy, it’s not an easy business. “This is not for the faint of heart,” he said.
3515 Alexis Rd., Toledo
419-690-4280 | whiskeyandthewolf.com
Hours Monday 3pm-10pm
Friday and Saturday, 11:30am-midnight