Discreetly tucked into the corner of a strip mall, Wildest’s modest exterior gives no indication of the warm, welcoming interior that awaits. A spacious lounge gives way to a glamorous dining room, where dazzling chandeliers illuminate funky wallpaper and a towering glass wine vault that doubles as a dining room for 6. It’s akin to a restaurant in a boutique hotel lobby, with a vibe that beckons you to steal a moment at the bar with a drink before moving on to a sit-down dinner.
The starters are a wonderful prelude and can make a worthy feast on their own. The hearty duck confit taco duo, topped with fresh cilantro and snappy pickled onions, is excellent. I was an instant fan of the trumpet mushroom calamari, where lightly battered strips of meaty mushrooms stand in for squid to make a winning vegetarian dish.
The entrées are divided into “from the land,” “from the sea,” and “from the plant” categories, each containing artfully plated dishes. A sautéed Chilean sea bass flaked perfectly under the weight of my fork, though I wanted a notch more flavor from the brothy miso-ginger sauce. The light-sauce approach worked far better in the clam and shrimp pasta, where the subtle citrus notes of the lemon-wine sauce allowed the chile flake–speckled seafood to shine.
I’m always happy to see plant-protein plates get the same attention from a chef as meat-centric ones, so Wildest’s wild mushroom bourguignon was a delight, creatively layering creamy polenta, vegetables, and, of course, mushrooms. Mix the bourguignon sauce surrounding the polenta into the dish so each bite has a robust flavor.
The lengthy dessert menu is filled with tempting choices. The blueberry soufflé arrived like a fruity cloud, with a sweetness that recalled cotton candy. I prefer my soufflés a bit denser, but I found myself finishing it nevertheless. The show-stopping Coffee & Donuts surprised me in the best possible way. It consisted of a mini mug made out of chocolate that was filled with coffee ice cream, plated alongside a puffy, sugar-topped doughnut. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Best dishes at Wildest
Duck confit tacos, trumpet mushroom calamari, clam and shrimp pasta, wild mushroom bourguignon, coffee and donuts.
Starters, $13–$18; entrées, $24–$50; desserts, $12–$13.
72990 El Paseo, Suite 3. (760) 636-0441.