Wolf’s Den burger makes me howl with delight

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Bacon Cheddar Twist burger; NOTE: I got mine without the bun.

Could I have have come up with a more ridiculous headline for this?

I first heard about the Wolf’s Den, a new breakfast and lunch restaurant in downtown Mishawaka, from my wonderful stepdad, Chuck S. You probably know him. The conversation went something like this.

Chuck: Have you heard about the new restaurant in Mishawaka? I think it’s called the Lion’s Den.

Me (face crunching up with concern): That sounds like a porn store or a gentlemen’s club.

Chuck: No, wait … I think it’s the Fox’s Den. No, I remember, it’s the Wolf’s Den.

So, despite the misleading name, The Wolf’s Den is a small, 51-seater restaurant in the old Waka Dog location at 114 Lincolnway East that serves what I’m calling fancy pub food for breakfast and lunch. Owner and executive chef Jared Heath said the restaurant is named after his father, Dale “Wolf” Heath and focuses on from-scratch cooking.

“I try to make as much as possible in house, with a few exceptions, such as fries and bread,” explained Jared by email. “Although in the future I would like to find a way to manage making these in house too. All our menu items share some kind of nontraditional twist, whether it be raspberry jam, smoked salmon, pineapple salsa or fried egg, which is featured on our bone-in pork chop, one of my favorite menu items.”

He’s not working with any local farmers yet, but may look into it for the future. Over time he’d like to develop a sturdy core menu and feature specials and seasonal items on a smaller rotating menu. You can download the current menu on the Wolf’s Den Facebook page, which features, omelets, pancakes, waffles, French toast, various egg dishes, crepes, small plates, pizza, salads, sandwiches and burgers. The menu also features fancy Italian doughnuts called Zeppoles. These are filled with vanilla cream, whipped cream or fig jam and served with crème anglaise. Why have I not tried these yet?

The first time I visited, I ordered the ham and spinach quiche and the crust was unusually thick, but the flavors were good. The pastrami hash that came with it was tasty, although a bit on the salty side. That first visit we waited a rather long time for our food, but since they make all the food from scratch, I was fine waiting for my quality, handcrafted meal.

The second or third time I visited the Wolf’s Den I hit gold. The Bacon Cheddar Twist burger is a sloppy mess of full-throttle delicious flavor. Right up there with New Paradigm Brewing Co. burgers in Elkhart. Soooo good! Every Wolf’s Den burger is made from a blend of beef and pork that’s brushed with basil chive aioli then topped with lettuce, tomato and onion in one form or another. But it doesn’t stop there. For instance, the bacon cheddar twist features, of course, bacon and cheddar cheese, then caramelized onions and a wonderful over-easy fried egg. The Sweet and Tangy burger is very tasty and features onion jam and goat cheese. I can’t wait to go back and try The Fireball with serrano peppers, pepper jack cheese and fried onion strips.

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Sweet and Tangy burger; NOTE: I got mine without the bun.

As you might expect, opening a new restaurant can be challenging. Jared describes the kitchen as somewhat lacking right now, so kitchen organization has been a bit trial an error. And he’s looking for avenues to spread the word about the restaurant’s existence that won’t break the bank. But he says the biggest challenge for him is taking on his leadership position.

“I do not like attention,” admits Jared. “I prefer to work behind the scenes.”

Luckily, at just 23 years old, Jared has plenty of time to grow that, and any other aspect, of his business.

Wolf’s Den
114 Lincolnway East
Mishawaka, IN
(574) 383-5945

Hours:
Mon: Closed
Tue-Fri: 8am-2pm
Sat-Sun: 7am-2pm