10 Best Restaurants of 2019: #2 Wolf's Ridge Brewing

Erin Edwards

Big things are happening on the beer side at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing. The 6-year-old Downtown brewery and restaurant is adding a brewing facility on the West Side, allowing it to ramp up production of its award-winning beers. Meanwhile, executive chef Seth Lassak (along with staffers Andy Zamagias, Kris Ludwig and Dan Kamel) continues to beautifully balance rustic and modern cooking—exemplified by the menu’s hulking tomahawk pork chop and a thoughtful, root-to-flower sunchokes dish. Down-to-earth service and a stellar beverage program are two more reasons why Wolf’s Ridge keeps us coming back.

On Rustic Fine Dining

Executive chef Seth Lassak shares how one of the restaurant’s most stunning dishes comes together.

Bowls and Scallops 

The bouillabaisse at Wolf’s Ridge is a fitting example for the brewpub-meets-high-end restaurant: take something rustic (like a fisherman’s stew) and give it a classic French polish. Executive chef Seth Lassak credits his recently named pastry chef, Dan Kamel, for coming up with the idea of a shellfish-forward bouillabaisse, and it’s now one of the restaurant’s top sellers. Practical considerations inspired the addition: Columbus diners love scallops, and after six years in business, the Downtown restaurant finally got entrée bowls.

How It Comes Together

First, a broth of clams, lobster, shrimp shells, vegetables, tomato, saffron, lemon, onion and fennel is brought to a boil and then simmered for 45 minutes. The broth is strained and seasoned. Wolf’s Ridge has opted not to use fish in its version of bouillabaisse, going instead with shellfish sourced from NorthShore Seafood. Scallops are pan-seared, lobster is heated in butter, and mussels are presteamed before being bathed in butter as well. Rather than the traditional approach of serving the seafood on a platter and later adding it to the broth, the restaurant flips the equation. Once the golden broth is poured over the seafood, the overall effect is a delicate dish that may not be Julia Child’s idea of a Marseille bouillabaisse, but is a descendant that wows at first sight.

French Twist 

Rouille, a Provençal sauce that Anthony Bourdain once called a “magical condiment,” is often added to a bouillabaisse or served alongside on a baguette. “It’s essentially a mayonnaise with saffron, and then it’s thickened with a wet brioche,” Lassak says. “On top of that is the fine herbs, which ties it all together.” Wolf’s Ridge spreads its rouille on a thin, crispy crostini that balances delicately on the edge of the bowl. The best part, as one server smartly explained, is when the crostini falls—or is blatantly broken up and tossed—into the soup. Magical, indeed.

Read about our other Best Restaurants of 2019:

1. Veritas

3. Watershed Kitchen & Bar

4. Service Bar

5. G. Michael’s Bistro & Bar

6. Comune

7. Refectory Restaurant & Wine Shop

8. Gallerie Bar & Bistro

9. The Guild House

10. Ambrose and Eve

215 N. Fourth St., Downtown


Wolf's Ridge Brewing