I'm a language and food lover who likes to write about and share hidden cultural gems with a healthy dose of dry wit.
Published March 8th 2013
There's a cool new kid on the Windsor end of Chapel St and it seems everybody wants a slice of the action-or at least, the Parma.
Gone is the grimy old Swan Hotel and in its place sits an open-aired, clean-lined and totally funky-looking bar/restaurant, its walls dotted with eccentric displays and large wolf models (deceased, naturally). It is, in a word, interesting. From the old singer sewing machine display, authentic bar sign collectables to the glass cabinets showcasing champagne glasses swathed in pearls, The Wolf and I feels much like a museum-cum-gallery-cum classy rumpus room- minus the saggy beanbags.
The décor is posh without being overly so, yet casual, without feeling lazy. Cactus in glass bowls dot the inside tables, while scraggly-looking shrubs (somehow oddly charming) adorn the old outside settings. There is an obvious attention to detail, which is sub-consciously assuring when one is planning to eat anywhere (except perhaps in Asia, where anything goes).
Friday and Saturday nights the place is pumping, with people spilling out onto the pavement, the chatter rising above even the grating revs of the regular ''chap lappers'', keen to show off their new arm tatts and car stereo equipment.
Perhaps, for that reason, My friend and visit the wolf on a particularly grey Monday night, when the crowds and general state of frenzied existence are a good few days away. We seat ourselves in the open window, perfectly positioned to people-watch (me) and car-watch (my friend). I am here to be impressed, following a recommendation given by a good mate who wildly exclaimed that the Wolf dished out the "BEST Parma I've ever had'. Yes, the Wolf had a lot to prove- and prove, it sure did.
The well thought out menu offers up a varied selection of pub and other goodies with a slight Scandinavian twist- there's plates to share (think cured salmon graverlax, kingfish, Danish meatballs, scorched squid, quesadillas, Merguez sausages and King prawns) main-sized salads, gourmet-ish entrees, pub classics, an interesting sounding gnocchi dish with sweet corn sauce, and three choices of steak (extra for sides of broccolini, potatoes or salad). Something to suit everybody.
I opt for the duck salad ($19) (with rice noodles, watercress and spicy nam jin dressing) whilst my friend cannot surpass this rare opportunity to taste the best Parma ever ($22). The salad is a punchy creation, the chewy noodles adding bulk to the bitter leaves and crisp bean shoots, with tender chunks of more-ish roasted duck to keep you wanting more. The dressing was fairly heated, but not to the extent that it wiped out the other flavours. That being said, I will admit to food envy, my friend's Parma looking pretty damn edible! With an entire plate to itself, the perfectly golden-crumbed beast sat with a bubbling layer of cheesy goodness and thick-cut ham, accompanied with shoe-string fries and a nice garden salad, it seemed rude of me not to sample.
The chicken was moist, the coating crunchy on both sides, and the cheese was not that hideous (albeit common) plastic-y type that tastes much like rubber, but rather a deep, soul-satisfying mozzarella blend that just made everything taste delightful. Later the waitress tells us that the Wolf's Parma's are freshly crumbed every day, which apparently, is rarely done. Who knew?
On the drinks side, there is a good section of wines by the glass and bottle, and staff are happy to offer you a tasting if you are undecided.
After a delicious, well-balanced meal without the hefty price-tag? I would definitely head to the wolf and I. Lunch specials are also available- $15 for a burger or Parma- but if you prefer a bit of nightlife and hustle and bustle, then Friday and Saturday nights are the go.