50 Clinton St, LES
People often misuse and overuse the word unique, but to describe my dining experience at WD-50, there is simply no other word to use.
Going into a restaurant that is famed for its molecular gastronome of a chef, Wylie Dufresne, it is assumed you’ll be getting some surprises along the way. But wow – my senses were shook all around and turned upside down.
Before I go on, I should say I am a guest blogger here – having dined at WD-50 with my husband and the famed We Could Eat bloggers themselves. We created our own “tasting menu” of sorts by sharing everything we ordered: apps, mains, and desserts.
The restaurant was rather small and largely unassuming at first glance, although the artwork, brightly colored walls, and beautiful bathroom space projected a subtle modern fashionability. From the hostess to the waitstaff to the specially-designated beer-pourer, everyone was incredibly pleasant and knowledgeable. We felt well-attended to and important.
The appetizers we started with were a delectable introduction to the world of molecular gastronomy. The famous Eggs Benedict (essentially deconstructed and using the brilliance of liquid nitrogen) was absolutely brilliant and lived up to its reputation. The Foie Gras was light and creamy, although did feel a little rich by the last passing in our round-table tasting. Shrimp Canelloni was a pipe dream masterpiece as the canelloni itself was made out of shrimp! The food’s structure was as intriguing as the taste. Finally, the Cuttlefish seemed to me almost a “tofu of the sea” as it especially picked up the flavor of the rootbeer gelatin cubes (by itself, however, a bit dense and unremarkable).
Famous Eggs Benedict
Shrimp cannelloni, cranberry, daikon, mint
Cuttlefish, cashew, rootbeer, watercress
While waiting for our entrees, we all happily noshed on the unbelievably-thin goodness of sesame crips in lieu of bread. Another basket, please!
Although I didn’t personally eat the group’s red-meat dishes (the Wagyu Flap Steak and Iberico Pork Neck), I most thoroughly enjoyed the Duck Breast with it’s sharp cheddar and apples and the Cod. Ohhhh, the cod. Stacked Napoleon-style with steamed vegetables on a bed of mashed peas and coconut (just a hint) and sitting in a light dashi broth, the most amazing part of the meal was definitely the nori pasta that blanketed the stack.
Duck breast, apple, cheddar, kimchee-cous cous
Iberico pork neck, endive, buckwheat, clove
Wagyu flap steak, barley, malt, turnip
Cod, peas-n-coconut, nori, carrot dashi
Dessert is too often an after-thought. Not so with Iron Chef champion, pastry chef Alex Stupak. Trying to pick the most unexpected of flavors, we settled on the Caramelized Brioche, Lemongrass Mousse, and Soft Chocolate with Peppermint Ice Cream. All of the desserts were hallmarked by flowing lines and abstract shapes, but more importantly, tasted phenomenal. At this point in the meal, you think you can’t possibly be surprised by what is put out in front of you, but then you taste a whole wheat sorbet or some almond foam, and you know you can.
Soft chocolate, peppermint ice cream, black cardamom, toffee
Caramelized brioche, apricot, buttercream, lemon thyme
Lemongrass mousse, brown sugar, jack fruit, whole wheat sorbet
Throughout our meal, we all were challenged to taste textures and flavors, both individually and combined with others, that made us outright giddy. All the while, we could see Chef Dufresne himself in the open kitchen, directing and overseeing his staff with such calmity and ease. It made you truly wonder what goes on in this brilliant man’s head.
It's Wylie in the Kitchen!
Special Guest Reviewer Rosefarmer