Change is never an easy thing, but I find it best to tackle it head-on. That’s why when the Brewer’s Hill restaurant formerly known as Roots reopened as Wolf Peach (1818 N. Hubbard St.), I rushed to try it out. First testing the waters for lunch with a co-worker, a few weeks later I found myself back at Wolf Peach a little after 7 p.m. on a Wednesday.
My friend and I walked in and asked the host if we could sit at the bar. He pointed in its direction and said it’s all ours: seven bar stools with no bodies perched atop. The bartender perked up when we pulled out the chairs, and although the rest of the dining room was nearly full, he seemed a bit lonely.
If you were a patron of Roots, you’ll notice the bar was moved from the southern end of the restaurant and is now an extension of the open kitchen. The new location really opens up the space and allows more tables to get a piece of the spectacular skyline view. If you’re at the bar you still can sneak a peek at the amazing view, but you might be preoccupied by watching the knife-wielding chefs (I can’t be the only one who finds it amusing!), and back-and-forth deliciousness coming out of the wood-fired pizza oven.
The bartender passed us a drink menu and poured us water. I always appreciate a bartender who provides water without asking. Keep me hydrated, and you'll keep me drinking.
The wine by-the-glass offering is modest with seven whites and seven reds to choose from, but the prices are fair, ranging from $6 for a Stella Pinot Grigio to $10 for a 24 Knots Pinot Noir, or a Sivas-Sonoma Cabernet Sauvingnon. I opted for the $8 Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc and my friend chose the similarly priced Domaine De Couron Cote du Rhone.
The remainder of the wine list is made up of nearly 70 offerings available by the bottle. At the upstairs bar there are no beers on tap, but the bottled beer selection’s breadth includes domestics and imports, cider, regional offerings and micro brews (prices range from $4 to $8.50).
At the bartender's suggestion, my next drink was one of the specialty cocktails called the Wolfhound (Rehorst Citrus Honey Vodka, fresh grapefruit juice, rosemary syrup and grapefruit bitters). The presentation was very clean with one piece of grapefruit as the focal point in the martini glass.
Maybe it had something to do with all of the fruit flavors involved, but the first couple of sips were a bit difficult to handle. The rest of the cocktail went down just fine, but I now question if I like grapefruit as much as I thought I did.
As we were half way through our second round of drinks, owner Tim Dixon walked in and greeted the bartender before sitting down, then nodded and said hello to my friend and me. It’s always good to see the owner, even if he’s only there for a drink or two.
As for bar snacks, I found my four years of living in the South paid off. It’s rare to find an establishment north of a Mason-Dixon line that can do pimento cheese spread justice, but Wolf Peach nails it. As my friend and I shoveled the chips and cheese into our mouths, the bartender informed us they use the pizza oven to make their own chips. A nice touch.
And after having the same delectable pizza I enjoyed at lunch weeks before, I chose a liquid dessert. Made with house-mulled, spice-infused brandy, Mull It Over also includes Carpano Antica (red vermouth), Ace Hard Apple Cider and nutmeg. I wish I would have gone with this drink from the beginning; it was one of the best cocktails I’ve had in recent memory.
My friend and I eventually said our goodbyes to the bartender, but before we could get out the door I heard my name yelled. Just as attentive as he was all night, the bartender noticed I forgot my takeout box. It was a gesture I appreciated even more at lunch time the following day.
The combination of the tasty drinks, amazing use of cheese and friendly service puts Wolf Peach at the top of my socializing and dining lists. If you don’t normally make it to the Brewer’s Hill area, Wolf Peach should be your reason.
For hours, menus and to learn the meaning of its name, visit Wolf Peach’s website.
Photos courtesy of Wolf Peach.