Things are looking up for Downtown Los Angeles these days, as more and more of the area’s restaurant and hospitality fixtures eye a return to the neighborhood — along with, soon, more office workers and tourists, too. Marble-lined jewel box Bottega Louie is coming back next week, and now a different Parisian-influenced operation has reopened its own gilded doors nearby, though this time with a slightly different perspective and focus. Here’s what’s happening at the Wolves, Downtown LA’s stunning cocktail bar at 519 S. Spring Street.
First up, it’s important to know that the Wolves space itself, with its scalloped golden ceiling, inlayed wooden details, and wrought iron touches, has returned largely untouched. The steampunk-meets-Paris bar and dining area — named one of Eater’s most beautiful rooms in 2018 — has been kept intact since closing at the start of the ongoing global pandemic, and people are already inside snapping pictures again.
What has changed, though, is the direction of the food and overall focus of the operation. Chef Laurent Quenioux, a celebrated veteran of French-California cooking whose peers include names like the vaunted Joachim Splichal, is on to oversee the culinary side of the cocktail-focused hotspot. Not only will Quenioux bring his brand of French home cooking (honed through decades of working on pop-ups and in actual bistros around the city) to the Wolves, the menu arrival means full dinner seating, servers and all — not just ordering pub food from the bar. Quenioux will run the kitchen, turning out dishes like sautéed duck hearts with wild mushrooms, while also utilizing lots of imported cheese and charcuterie.
Quenioux will work to pair his food with the bar’s ongoing and extensive cocktail menus, led by barman Nathan McCullough (Mezcalero, San Diego’s Bracero). There will be rotating drinks that change often as well as classics that never leave the menu, plus rarer things like a brandy-based spirit from Stephen Soderbergh (who is friends with the Wolves owner Isaac Mejia) and harder-to-find mezcal and tequilas. The upstairs bar, which will open in the coming weeks, will be a more experimental high-end space for cocktails and mixology, and will likely feature one-off pop-up dinners from Quenioux as well, with a focus on luxury ingredients and sourcing.
Quenioux’s cooking is now available at the reopened Wolves on Spring Street, with dining room hours from 5 p.m.. to 11 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; the bar remains open until 1 a.m. or later.