When Brian Howard opened his greatly anticipated restaurant Sparrow + Wolf last spring, he made it clear from the beginning that his menu would be a place for constant change. Most restaurants that practice this approach maintain a few favorites, but Howard unleashed something closer to a wholesale menu revamp in January—and it’s every bit as fascinating and delicious as the original.
Start with a crisp salad of boutique lettuces from Urban Seed, our burgeoning local urban farming project, layered with crunchy grains and dijon mustard, and a small bowl of vibrant poke made with buttery hamachi, puffed rice and Sichuan chile oil. S+W has quickly garnered a reputation for vegetable dishes that seem simple but pack powerful flavor, and there are at least three new ones: a tartare of beet, green apple, fennel, lemon and olive oil; a skewer of robata-grilled Brussels sprouts doused with jungle curry and crushed peanuts; and barbecued salsify, which transforms an underused winter vegetable into a tender, smoky delight, served with Asian pear and maple garum (fish sauce).
Howard’s charcuterie program is running on all cylinders and must be experienced upon every visit. Our recent tasting offered several varieties, including a heritage pork and Wagyu beef country pâté en croute. The rotating selection of raw oyster toppings now includes warm shiitake mushroom and lap cheong (Chinese sausage) vinaigrette, a super savory complement. For ultimate decadence, check out the uni melt, a fancy and fantastic play on grilled cheese with toasted brioche and burrata layered with bacon jam, sea urchin and a house-made version of the Japanese condiment kosho made with salt, chilies and blood orange.
Replacing the beloved braised pork shank is an over-the-top rich slow-cooked lamb neck served with herb crepes. Its natural side is an addictive dish of miso-kosho polenta with maitake mushroom and a dried and fermented duck element known as katsuobushi. Always check to see if the specials might include a grilled yellowtail collar lacquered with a sauce fashioned from Thai bird’s-eye chilies. It’s incredible.
If you’re familiar with Howard’s food, you can tell with this reading that his latest creations fall in line with his signature style, creating hearty, ridiculously tasty stuff with a wide range of influences.
Sparrow + Wolf 4480 Spring Mountain Road #100, 702-790-2147; Wednesday-Monday, 5-11 p.m.