Craftsman And Wolves – The Den
Cocoa Carrot Muffin with Cocoa Almond Crumble
Toasted Croissant Loaf with Cinnamon Sugar and Orange Marmalade
Roasted Banana Bread with Coconut
Vanilla Raised Donut with Biscotti Crumble
Hidden Star Apple Cider Cake Donut with Cinnamon Sugar
Financier with Chocolate and Caramelized Nib Crust
The Alfajores Kouign Amann with Dulce de Leche and Coconut Macaron
Valrhona Chocolate and Churro Sugar Croissant
No Frills Peanut Butter Cookie
Valrhona Chocolate Chip Cookie with Vanilla Sea Salt
Serving The Mission since 2012 and expanding to Yosemite Avenue in Bayview-Hunters Point four years later, it had been nearly five years between visits when three guests entered Craftsman and Wolves (CAW) on Saturday, a steady downpour outside keeping others at bay and shelves fully stocked just after 8:00am.
Still owned and operated by Chef William Werner, a two time James Beard Foundation Finalist for “Outstanding Baker” with a resume that includes The Ritz-Carlton and Michelin 3* Quince, The Den offers a slightly different look at CAW than the Valencia Street flagship, sweets slightly truncated and savories expanded while limited seating and a lack of public restrooms renders it a largely “grab and go” operation.
Best known for The Rebel Within, a masterpiece of #yolkporn that predates Instagram, it was with nearly complete change from prior offerings that guests perused their options, all but two deemed “can’t miss” following an early morning flight and the only repeat Chef Werner’s Cocoa Carrot Muffin which remains a remarkable balance of Chocolate and Baking Spices with crumbly insides but plenty of moisture.
Ordering one made-to-order item, a slice of CAW’s Croissant Loaf toasted and slathered with Orange Marmalade, it was after a short exchange with the somewhat rude clerk that Banana Bread was tasted, the addition of Coconut mellowing flavor but at the same time drying things out a bit while the square Donut to follow was pretty much flawless from eggy Brioche to bold Vanilla Icing and crunchy Cookie Crumbs.
Less impressed by an Apple Cider Donut, the Cake overcooked and parched with an overabundance Cinnamon doing the exterior no favors, it was moving on to Craftsman and Wolves’ Financier that Saturday morning’s best item was found, the Brownie-like base made even smoother by Almond Flour while the outside crackles to the tooth thanks to caramelized Cocoa Nibs.
Hoping to save the best for last, Werner’s Viennoiseries having previously proven noteworthy, suffice it to say that the “AKA” continues that trend by replicating the South American Cookie’s flavor amidst buttery layers while the lamination of a Croissant with Chocolate *in* the Batter is also impressive, though much like the Cake Donut this is an item best saved for those who don’t mind a high ratio of Cinnamon to Sugar on the surface.
Finishing up with a pair of Cookies, the “No Frills” Peanut Butter a top-tier rendition that melts across the palate, those seeking the Bay Area’s best Chocolate Chip should put Craftsman and Wolves on their list as each bite is nearly 50% Valrhona but at the same time never too rich thanks to Sea Salt that is more pronounced in the soft center than around crispy edges.