Bianca: A Cool quirky outdoor cafe, an awesome burger joint and a whiskey themed small bar. You wouldn’t be remiss if you thought these were all the things Wollongong was missing…boy was I wrong! In a span of one month I’d made the short trip down the coast to the gong for a food related adventure. And each trip I came away a little more envious than when I first arrived.
‘The Hungry Wolf’ is the kitchen arm and all around little sister of ‘The Howlin Wolf’ a cosy little whiskey bar that I just wished was my local. Nestled across the corridor from the small bar is the eatery. Tucked away in a small arcade, the Hungry Wolf emphasises a ‘create your own’ salad/bowl, po-boys and a variety of share plates. The hardest decision Alex and I had to make that day was what to order. It all sounded so good!
The amount of food ordered bordered on the ridiculous but we really wanted to get a wide breadth of the menu and the food on offer, so stretchy pants truly became our best friends.
We started with two of the bowls, these work by choosing your preferred salad, a choice from five, for example. One with red cabbage or House ramen and then adding one of The Hungry Wolfs ‘thangs’ i.e. one of their proteins, be it Lamb shoulder or tofu. Our first ‘creation’ consisted of a ‘Wild Rice and Avocado bowl’ –w/herbs and citrus $10 and then adding ‘Whiskey Pork Belly’ $5. This was almost an Asian style flavour profile, we got slight hints of soy sauce, which wasn’t stated on the menu and one that was most welcome. The pork was soft and tender but we wished there was a little more crackling as the skin was a little limp and lifeless BUT really that was only a minor flaw in an otherwise excellent dish. We have never had avocado and pork belly as a combo before and it’s one we’d happily come back to over and over.
Our second bowl was the ‘Pearl Barley and Roast Tomatoes’ w/garlic, chilli and thyme $10 and then adding the ‘Korean Fried Chicken’ – crispy wings with howlin sauce $5. The chicken wings had a light crispy batter and the flesh was particularly juicy. The howlin sauce lived up to its name with a rather strong kick that lingered after each bite. Alex, the precious petal struggled. I really enjoyed the mix of spinach leaves and spring onions which added a bit of crunch. The chicken was done in more of an Asian style but the actual ‘salad’ with the pearl barley was more akin to a risotto. Which I found interesting. This came a close second to the Rice and Pork belly salad. I would have preferred bite sized chicken pieces opposed to the wings and drumette’s as it did become a little messy.
Next we moseyed on over to the big plates, where we sampled the ‘House Standard Cornbread’ – w/pickles and mustard $10. This was our least favourite dish of the day, the cornbread was rather dense, dry and a little lacklustre. I’ve never really been a fan of the mealy Southern American staple. Much preferring my biscuits and gravy.
We fell in love with Po’Boys during our American trip and have been delighted, yes I said delighted!! To see them popping up on a fair few menus in Sydney and Melbourne. I love brisket so couldn’t go past the ‘Brisket Po’boy’ –w/mushrooms, tomatoes, rocket and aioli $10. This was a stand-out. The brisket, super tender, flavourful and slightly sweet. I love mushrooms and they really made this a much heartier roll, they were cooked well and were particularly juicy and plump. Alex ordinarily does not like mushies but even he enjoyed them. More than anything, I was actually really impressed with the bread roll… I do sometimes take my bread obsession to places it should not go. The sub-type roll was charred and crispy on the outside but juxtaposed nicely with the fluffy ‘interior’ which was great to mop up the juices that flowed bountifully from the moreish roll. I can’t recommend it enough.
And to finish it all off a big honking serving of the ‘Fancy Fries’ $6 – oddly from the ‘small plates’ section on the menu. There was really nothing small about these. Thin French fries, smattered with chilli and coriander accompanied by a creamy aioli and tomato sauce.
We were both really impressed with the diverse menu Johnny and Angus have put together. The servings are generous, the prices are a steal and the food….well it speaks for itself.
We didn’t get to experience the bar in all its night-time glory but we were able to hang out and eat in the Howlin Wolf and it’s definitely somewhere I could see myself hanging out on a Friday night.
Photos by Alex