Located at 43 S. Washington Street, it is easy to miss Whole in the Wall, a small and understated restaurant that caters to a crowd looking for food that is both well-prepared and well-sourced. Luckily, the bold shade of red paint of its facade caught my eye. Soon enough, its menu would have me talking as well.
Whole in the Wall’s interior consists of beautiful woodwork, complete with parquet flooring, tapestries and wooden paneling from floor to ceiling. On the intangible side, Whole in the Wall provided us with optimal customer service and pleasant conversation with its owner, Eliot Fiks.
For an appetizer we opted to sample the entire prix fixe. We tried crisp broccoli tempura florets and spiced falafel, as well as baba ganoush and roasted tomato hummus served with warmed pita slices. The baba ganoush, a spread made from eggplant, was my favorite of the dipping sauces, yet the hummus was suffocated by the addition of a sun dried tomato paste. We also had a garlic bread ball, which was served in a bowl of its own; a distinction we thought it merited.
Next came the minestrone soup, which was the soup du jour rather than a staple for its Restaurant Week selection. It was tasteful but otherwise not particularly memorable. Other options include Japanese miso and creamy mushroom soup.
As it came time for an entree, the photographer and I further globe trotted with our taste buds. My dining partner selected a duo pesto pasta with a spinach pesto and sun-dried tomato pesto. I chose the whole enchilada, the spicier option. The enchilada was deliciously seasoned, however, the garnish of cucumber, tomato and dilled sour cream not only obstructed its presentation but lent the dish an unwanted taste of Israeli salad.
My dining partner’s pesto was light and refreshing. We were both surprised to learn that pesto was not simply a pungent basil sauce but rather any sauce created from mincing herbs, tomatoes or peppers on a pestle. Whole in the Wall is most noted for its renowned selection of homemade pesto sauces.
In terms of cuisine, Whole in the Wall excels in its worldliness. It has no singular genre, rather, it features an eclectic mix of tastes from dishes around the globe. When restaurants do this they often run the risk of confusing or neglecting certain items on the menu. However, in Whole in the Wall’s case, the lack of a geographic focus did not mean a lower standard of taste.
We completed the meal with the brownie sundae teaser. Suggestively advertised as being “almost as good as … well, you know,” the first bite of this dessert did indeed come close. The brownies, feted with whipped cream and a sweet raspberry sauce, were presented on a dainty porcelain dish. A deceptive mode of presentation for a dessert that sent an excellent and bold shock to our palettes.
Although I would prefer a restaurant to stick to one cuisine, Whole in the Wall’s scope of tastes provides multiple opportunities for a tasty meal. Its generous accommodations to dietary restrictions is also a perk for the ethical eater. If traveling the course of the world in the span of one meal excites you, then this is definitely your joint.