Review: Wolf Shack

Time to wolf down some food... oh heaven. That was far too easy. Let's paws for thought. I'll need to beef up my act in the pun game before making a pig of myself. Already I veal like a swine in my latest culinary tail. Well, at least I'll bring home the bacon after this review. But will they?

"They" being the Wolf Shack Pack – thanks to waitress Aishling for that term – the staff of this striking eatery along the Derry-Londonderry quay. It's striking in that its design is what you'd call retro for the common people – very Granny Annie's in nature, made for mass appeal. Here is another one of those "another world" restaurants where, once you enter, you are in an environment entirely at odds with everything outside the front door. Barring tap water, there is nothing remotely watery here. Not even the Coke, and certainly not the sauce.

The menu warrants examination, front and back. "Respect the elders. Teach the young. Cooperate with the pack..." The words on the cover sound very Kipling to me, but it's actually Del Goetz's Wolf Credo, penned as a means of what we ourselves can learn from wolves. A nice touch entirely suitable for the name of these premises.

Nice is also a word you'd use for the menu's contents. Rather than being an "all you can eat" kind of place, the Wolf Shack is more like somewhere with "all you could want to eat". Burgers, pizzas, steaks, curries, chicken and fish. The works. Having dined on pasta, chicken and fish recently, I decide to sidestep any temptations for pizza I may have and go for a ten ounce medium sirloin with salt and chilli chips.

Beforehand come the "Breaking Bad" Garlic Dough Balls, accompanied by garlic butter and aoli dips. The former dip is suitably strong and the latter dip is suitably creamy, with a sharp lemony tang enduring in the back of the throat from the aoli. As for the rather large dough balls themselves, I'd love to say it'd be a "crime" to miss out on them, but consumption is sort of tricky. The filling is fluffy and pleasing, but the crust is a little too hard and hot for my liking. Still, they are more than serviceable as an appetiser, even if they wouldn't be something to get false teeth into.

As the salt and chilli chips are laid before me, I immediately see what looks like jalapeños and start to worry a little. They're not my best friends. Thankfully, the chilli peppers are not all that red hot and one bite of the chips puts me right at ease. These chips, along with easy to eat onion rings and breaded mushrooms, are a pretty good support act for the charcoal grilled steak in pepper sauce, which may be a little too tough on the outside but is absolutely delicious on the inside. So much so, actually, that I can't resist having one bite too many.

I find some of the pudding choices to be rather out there – a Haribo and bubblegum shake? Since when? - but my own choice, of caramel butterscotch waffles with ice cream, chocolate and berries is a well balanced mixture – hot, cool and sweet all at once. You might say it's waffly versatile – sorry, I mean awfully versatile. Like the Wolf Shack itself, a distinctive, dependable restaurant and bar with something for everyone.

Simon Fallaha

/The Wolf Shack is on 24 Queens Quay, Derry-Londonderry. Opening times are 12-3 pm and 5-9 pm, Monday to Friday, 12-10 pm Saturday, and 12-9.30 pm Sunday. For more information, @wolfrest123, on Facebook.

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