I had the best lunch last Thursday. In addition to the great food and even better company (Sarah! June!), it was a last hurrah before maternity leave draws to an end. These past four and a half months have been a glorious introduction to motherhood, and I am thrilled for what’s to come.
But first, lunch.
I’ve been desiring a meal at Ria and Matt Wilson’s pop-up WILD for weeks now, but only got my act together with my return-to-work date looming in the distance.
Prior to popping up at Canelé, Matt spent time in the kitchens at Bouchon Las Vegas, Son of a Gun, and Sqirl, while Ria cooked at The Mansion Las Vegas, Daniel Boulud Brasserie, Canelé, and Sqirl. Killer resumes, the both of ’em.
WILD, as defined by its Instagram blurb, is “playful, experimental and knows no cuisine boundary.” Matt and Ria’s anything-goes-so-as-long-as-it’s-delicious-and-seasonal approach means that the menu changes from week to week (sometimes even day to day), dabbling in different genres, techniques, and cuisines along the way. You never know what you’re going to get…
The duo are clearly having a blast at WILD, and I love how you can taste their collective energy in every bite.
Sarah and I shared six dishes on our lunchtime date: three items from the regular menu plus three specials. One of the specials, a Kimchi Coconut Ramen ($14) with buttered noodles, scallion, and pork belly, was a bowlful of soul. The slices of chashu were as tender as can be, while the broth was so very slurp-worthy.
Another special on offer was the Shrimp Potstickers ($12) filled with Santa Barbara spot prawn and Ridgeback shrimp with chili peanuts and golden enokis. While there was a lot to love about this dish, the texture of the dumplings’ skins, toothsome and delicious, was my favorite part.
The final special that we dug into was the Uni Mousse Vol Au Vent ($9), an airy urchin mousse complemented by a buttery, flaky base, a sauce made of peas, and plenty of fresh herbs.
There’s always a ricotta cavatelli ($14) on the menu, with the preparation changing with the seasons and the chefs’ whims. This afternoon, the luscious little dumplings were complemented beautifully by preserved tomatoes, sugar snap seas, burrata, and fresh basil. Simply divine.
The “house terrine” ($12) changes often as well. This week’s was made of duck and served with thin slices of house-smoked duck, raisin mostarda, sauternes gelee, and toasted bread. While the duck two ways were fantastic, the sweet and potent mostarda stole the plank for me. I’ve got a thing for good mustard.
And finally, a vegetarian “Hot Stone Rice Bowl ($10) comprised of Satsuki rice topped with black kale gochujang, market vegetables, and pickles. A poached egg ($2) was served alongside for us to mix in at the table. This dish brought a hearty, spicy piece of K-Town to Atwater Village.
There’s a lot of wildly creative and delightful cooking going on at WILD. Get here for lunch (Wednesday through Friday) and weekend brunch stat. Now, that’s an order.
WILD at Canelé
3219 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039
One year ago: Bourbon Steak – Glendale
Two year ago: Hui Tou Xiang Noodles House – San Gabriel
Three years ago: A-Frame – Los Angeles (Culver City)
Four years ago: Bacon Almond Brittle
Five years ago: Dahlia Lounge – Seattle
Six years ago: Taihei Restaurant – Monterey Park
Seven years ago: Augustin – Ho Chi Minh City
Eight years ago: Reading Terminal Market – Philadelphia