has just released new spring/summer cocktail and food menus, and we recently sat in on a preview run-through with owners Sean and Inez Fitzgerald (bartending) and chefs Gary Bryant (house executive chef) and David Cook (menu designer and consulting chef).
As you can see on the first page of the bar menu (PDF below), the Fitzgeralds and crew have been having fun while drinking a lot. Just check out the list of 20-plus bullet points of random advice ("a balanced diet is a muffin in each hand") and worthwhile tidbits (use the hashtag #walkinwobbleout for 10-percent off your food) for evidence.
Sean says they've created 36 new cocktails since February, for a total list-length of 96 drinks now. His goal is to change up that list every 90 days. "We track sales and cut the losers," he says. "If it's not selling, I get rid of it."
For this round of creation, he says the staff started with a list of 200 drinks, trying each three to four times before culling the herd. "We crossed them off until we felt like every one is a winner."
The staff began making almost all of its own syrups and infusions in recent months to both step up its game and keep prices lower, and the final menu reflects a list of everything from sweet and dessert drinks to "time-honored, classics and original recipes."
A few we tried and really enjoyed:
• Sterling “Dutchess” Archer — Ford’s Gin, Housemade Strawberry Cordial, Aged Acetum Balsamic Vinegar, Fresh Lemon Juice, Raw Egg White, Rhubarb Bitters, Muddled Basil, Cracked Black Pepper
• Death & Company — Larceny Bourbon, Coffee Infused Carpano Antica Vermouth, Demerara Syrup, Raw Egg Yolk, Cream
• Classy Dame — Lee’s Spirit’s Dry Gin, Bryyh, Blood Orange Juice, Orange Bitters, Housemade Raspberry Cordial, Nutmeg
The Wobbly Olive also now exclusively hosts a set of Absolut Elyx copper pineapples
, which raises money for clean drinking water in the developing world
. And bar manager Phil Arana has been joined one day a week by former V Bar frontman Adam Gasper
On the food front, Cook overhauled about 60 percent of the menu, only keeping the top sellers and dishes like chicken-and-waffles which regulars demand. Not unlike the rigorous process to pare down the drink list, Sean says he and Cook meet at Sean's house to begin playing around with ideas. "He makes things, I point and grunt, and he finally sees my vision and runs with it — he makes it sexy," before Bryant prices everything out and figures out the kitchen flow from station-to-station.
Again, balance is key to the Fitzgeralds, and Sean says he ensures plates for vegans and vegetarians in addition to omnivores. For this menu, he says he was craving "big flavor, but light dishes."
Cook says he interpreted that as something in the realm of a curry. So even though he's a French foundational chef, he brought in the essences of India, Indonesia and Thailand here specifically. "I tried to do some fun things that other people around here weren't doing," he says, citing plates like the Khao Soi-style Rabbit Tacos, essentially a deconstructed rice noodle dish served stacked on a wonton crisp with mango and chili vinegar.
Chef Corey Wilson
, with whom Cook has been working lately, should be credited with initially turning Cook onto the Asian fares, himself having been inspired after a visit to Vancouver's Vij's
. Cook says he bought a $1,500 Indian spice kit online and some books and got to work exploring. In order to execute his ideas now on a restaurant scale, locally, he says he's driving between nine separate import markets weekly and blending all of Wobbly Olive's spices in-house.
The culmination of all the effort is best tasted in the phenomenal new Spicy Indian Chickpeas small plate on Wobbly Olive's menu. The foundation of its potent seasoning is Cook's version of Panch Phoron
, a Bengali spice mix of black cumin, black mustard, fenugreek, fennel and kalonji. The dish also introduces us to candlenuts
Check out the rest of the new menu here: