Little Wolf Is In The House


April 7, 2024

Words by: Twyla Campbell

Photography by: Erin Walker

Come hungry, leave happy

The house is old, the kitchen is tiny, and the stairs are steep and creaky, but there is hardly a homier, more convivial vibe than that which is found at Little Wolf. 

This is a Shaun Hicks project and if ever a venue suited a chef, the house at 8424-109 Street is it. The 80-ish-year-old building’s previous tenant was High Dough Pizza until owners Brayden Kozak and Brian Welch relocated it to the south side. Before that, it was home to Three Boars, another Kozak Welch restaurant where Hicks worked as general manager. In 2023, when he was looking for a space to call his own, the vacant venue was “the devil I knew” he said, referring to the building’s age-related shortcomings. 

Oftentimes, quirks and creaks lend a space its charm but it’s the food that will hold people’s attention and what’s coming out of the kitchen is definitely doing that. Hicks offers food that is creative, delicious, beautifully presented, and served without the pomp which often accompanies this level of execution. What he makes is creative enough to get experienced eaters excited, but not so over the top to intimidate lesser seasoned diners. 

Slabs of thick, fried focaccia seasoned with zatar and served on a generous amount of sumac-dusted hummus is a perfect entry point for first-timers to share, or for anyone looking for something to pair with a pint in the tiny lobby bar. Similarly, the smoked, marinated Nocellara olives call out to wine drinkers or fans of bitter spirits like Aperol and Campari. On that note, the liquid offerings at Little Wolf are (no surprise) as sound as the food.

If the tom yum fried garlic scapes are on the menu, dig in while they last. Topped with shimeji mushrooms and spiked with black lime (made with a process similar to black garlic), they are surprisingly addictive. The roasted crimini mushrooms on sunflower puree with a scattering of pickled raisins are another example of how Hicks excels at elevating humble ingredients by layering them with interesting elements. 

If you’re after one dish in particular, the current preparation of black cod belly should be it. Served with a bold combination of fermented tomatoes and cucumbers in a kaffir lime coconut oil, a bite containing all components is simply magical. 

There is nothing big or bad about this Wolf. Servers are cheerful, attentive and happy to share their knowledge. Hicks says it’s important to him that staff are excited about working here. “I do care and I want staff to care. People are taking a chance on us. Genuinely caring gives a different result. It’s noticeable.” 

People are dishing up what Shaun Hicks is serving—both on the plate and from his culinary pulpit. After years of cooking in kitchens owned by others, he now gets to showcase his talents in a space of his own. The floors may be uneven, the stairwell overly narrow, and the second-floor dining room prone to raucous—albeit joyful—noise levels when filled, but this house feels like home. 

Open five days a week with hours that extend to 1 a.m. on Sundays allows industry workers the opportunity to connect and catch up over well-made food and drink. It’s a Three Boars tradition that Hicks is happy to continue. “I wanted to open an eating and meeting place where people can afford to come more than once a week,” he says. Mission accomplished: our bill split three ways for five dishes and one drink each came to just over $30 (before tip). 

Little Wolf doesn’t take reservations, and securing a table can be a bit of a feat, but with warmer weather ahead, the patio will allow for extra seating. Get here if you can.

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