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Monday, Nov. 19, 2012

Wolf Peach Starts Strong

Tim Dixon opens restaurant in the former Roots

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Roots restaurant was known for its unique setting, perched on top of Brewers Hill, and a kitchen that was a pioneer in “local source” ingredients. So it was quite a surprise when Roots closed its doors in September. Earlier this month, the restaurant returned with a new owner and a new name. The owner is Tim Dixon, who also owns the Iron Horse Hotel, and the name is Wolf Peach.

Wolf Peach? It is an old German name for a tomato.

The interior remains much the same. The upstairs bar, though, has been moved near the open-air kitchen to allow more tables to enjoy the view—a wise move.

The kitchen has added a wood-fired oven for pizzas and other items. The lower level, known previously as Roots Cellar, remains the same. But where Roots had a different menu for the Cellar, Wolf Peach uses the same menu throughout.

The new restaurant is also open for lunch, with a menu featuring sandwiches, soup, salads and pizzas among its options.

The menu’s theme is rustic European, with dishes that are neither complicated nor fussy. Chef Dan Jacobs returns from his stint at Roots. The small plates and larger meals are grouped in simple categories: vegetable, fish and meat. You will also find wood-fired pizzas and breads, spreads and chips. Selections of cheese and charcuterie change daily.

The choices are intriguing and the ingredients can be unusual. This may be the first local restaurant to offer shishito peppers ($10), Japanese chiles that are milder than jalapenos but still pack some heat. This large serving features the peppers in olive oil and sea salt. There must be at least 40 of them! Another selection is brussels sprouts that are roasted with shallots and then combined with red grapes. It’s an odd pairing, but the results are surprisingly tasty.

A salad of crispy kale with winter vegetables and lime dressing ($9) includes thin slices of radish, beet and turnip. Be sure to consider the soup of the day. One offering of rainbow beans had bits of ham, chopped fresh herbs and a flavorful broth with hints of wolf peach.

The meat and fish choices are enticing. The sublime steak tartar ($8) presents minced raw beef with capers and garlic aioli. An egg yolk is added when the plate arrives at the table. You can eat it on slices of grilled rustic bread. Sausages are a house specialty. Smoked kielbasa ($14), served with red cabbage and a potato latke, is quite good. Chicken paprikash ($20) naturally is made with paprika. The chicken is tasty, and the plate also includes a lamb sausage. A must-order dish is the grilled octopus ($12). It is served over farro, an ancient grain. The pieces of octopus have wonderful tenderness—it rarely ever gets this good.

The pizzas ($8-$13) are of good size and have a thin crust. Gluten-free dough is an option. Pizzas here vary from a traditional margherita to one with goat cheese, leek, mushroom and lamb sausage.

The dining rooms exude charm and the service is very good. Dishes will be served immediately after they are prepared. The wine list is sound but not flashy, with most bottles under $50. The beer list shows strength in its regional and micro options.

Wolf Peach retains the best of the former Roots and continues to explore new directions. This is a restaurant that will mature well, like a fine wine.n

 

Wolf Peach

1818 N. Hubbard St.

(414) 374-8480

$$-$$$

Handicap Accessible

wolf-peach.com