627 Fourth Avenue, Downtown San Diego
I hate to pigeonhole a place, but when you stake out a central-Gaslamp location, write the word "Shots" in giant letters along the back wall and name it Werewolf, you've pretty much decided to cater to a non-discriminating (read: young) drinking crowd.
The place does offer a full dinner menu, though, so when I found too long a wait at a "classier" establishment around the corner, I thought I'd brave the wild scene of Werewolf and give it a fair shake. It didn't hurt that it was mostly empty at the time.
Perhaps on busier nights guests don't receive the almost over-welcoming level of service I experienced. Overt friendliness must be endorsed by the restaurant's charter or something. One server actually took the trouble to learn the first name of everyone in my party, while another periodically dropped in on our booth and took a seat — you know, just to hang, and to make sure the food tastes great. Like people do.
Actually, the food wasn't bad. Apparently the chef didn't get the memo that this is foremost a party place.
Given the environment and the illustrated depiction of a werewolf on the menu cover, I expected otherwise. Granted, I veered away from the likes of burgers, meatballs and tacos, opting instead for short ribs with roasted Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes.
Entrées range from ten to sixteen dollars, but between cocktails, appetizers and sides, you might easily find yourself spending more than you'd like to at a place clearly inspired by the same zeitgeist as Teen Wolf.
I suppose if nothing else, naming a restaurant for a mythical movie monster wearing sunglasses is an admonition against taking anything here too seriously. Probably, if you can embrace the quirkiness of it, soak yourself in booze and share in raising a few middle fingers in the general direction of stuffy nearby establishments, Werewolf is for you.
But I'm not as fun as all that. And tasty short ribs aren't so tough to come by that I need to subject myself to a fresh young take on the American gastropub to get them.
Still, if you're aroused by the phrase "audacity of hope" and the idea that body shots might happen any minute, check out this oddly conceived eatery while it's still here.