Wildebeest isn’t just about the odd bits
Judging from the name, one would think that the restaurant Wildebeest specializes in wild meat. For those who can’t place quite place the animal, a wildebeest is another name for a gnu, “either of two large African antelopes having a mane and beard, a long tail, and curved horns”, according to my dictionary.
To be sure, the restaurant, which opened last month, is meat-centric . But I was a bit surprised to find at a recent media event that it’s not all about odd animals or even odd bits. In fact, according to co-owner James Iranzad, the place was named by his then two-year-old son: the wildebeest is his favourite animal.
Iranzad explained that while the restaurant’s menu does feature less mainstream dishes such as beef tongue, and offal like sweetbreads, those don’t dominate the menu. Offal is often offered as specials when it's available. (The restaurant runs on the whole-animal cookery philosophy, and goes through about one pig and half a lamb every week.) More standard proteins, such as short ribs, chicken breast, and halibut, are staples.
For wine bar snacks, the restaurant smokes their Castelvetrano olives in-house, giving them a very unique bacon-meets-olive flavour.
Here’s a look at some of the dishes, which are meant to be ordered to share, family-style. Below, Carolyn Ali photos.
The aged ham plate includes Leoncini, a 24-month-aged parma ham, an 18-month aged La Quercia prosciutto, and Tiroler Schinkenspeck.
Heirloom radishes are combined with honey yogurt and a beet sorbet for a uniquely sweet salad, topped with “crunchy bits” made of dehydrated malt, hazelnut, and beer.
A twist on a crostini, crisped chicken skin forms a base for crème fraîche and sungold tomatoes.
Dungeness crab is incorporated into a Japanese-influenced chawan mushi egg custard.
Halibut is poached in olive oil and served with grilled leaks and whey sauce.
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