So a little more about my experience at WD-50...
I remember getting out of the cab and protesting to the driver that this, in fact, couldn't be the right area. It didn't seem like the place where you'd find anything other than bodegas, much less one of NY's hippest eateries. Sure enough, though, the cross streets were right--I was in the right spot. I could tell that I was in for an entirely different experience than the one I had at that 10 Columbus Circle place...
I arrived about 45 minutes early for my reservation, so I sat down at the bar for a cocktail. I picked their Haru no Sake
martini, which--if I remember correctly--contained aerated sake, shiso, citron (I think), and cubes of aloe gelee. It reminded me of a similar martini I had at Bar Masa, but it was much more complex and yet very refreshing. Sitting at the bar also gave me chance to talk to the bartender about the restaurant, etc. Occaisionaly other members of the floor staff would come over and join the conversation. What struck me was how laid back everyone was--even at their high level of professionalism. Being a waiter myself, I was jealous! Not that I dislike my job or anything, but this place just seemed like a blast to work.
Once my friends arrived, we sat down at our table. I laughed when I saw that the tables were set with almost home-style placemats. There were lots of little touches like that that added to the feeling of unpretentiousness. We hadn't even begun to eat when we all agreed unanimously that we loved the place.
As much as I wanted to go for the tasting menu, out of deference for my friends, I opted for the a la carte menu. In the end though--between tasting eachother's food and the cool little extra courses that came from the kitchen--it felt as if we had had a tasting menu. Anyway, here's what we had:
Apps:Mussel-olive oil soup, water chestnut, orange zest
This was potent yet subtle. At first all you can taste is overwhelming essence of oyster, but after a second or two you can taste the bite from the orange zest. The olive oil tied the flavors together nicely.Octopus, celery pesto, pineapple, mojama, marcona almonds
I ordered this strickly based on the fact that it was, well, octopus. I had never had it up to that point. The meat had such a great texture and flavor..an instant favorite. The almonds added a nice counterpoint to that texture.Foie gras, grapefruit-basil crumble, nori caramel
This was the dish I was most looking forward to (being the foie gras nut, I am). For some reason the foie gras dish is always my litmus test of a restaurant. Not that it's an accurate gauge or anything. It just seems that chefs really try to put their signature touch on it more than most other dishes. This dish was great. To me, it showed how the odd juxtapositions present in Wylie's dishes are simply means to an end and not meant for shock value. The nori caramel, while a lot stronger in flavor than I imagined it, didn't overwhelm the rich foie. I thought it was so cool how it came rushing out of the tourchon. I want to know how he did that! The brioche croutons were a nice touch, but I found myself wanting a little more of the grapefruit's acidity to cut through the nori flavor a bit.Slow poached egg with parmesan broth, chickpea noodles and tomato powder
This was one of the tasting menu courses that the kitchen sent to our table, much to our excitement and gratitude. The slow poached egg (poached for an hour at 147 degrees, if I remember correctly) had the most luxurious, melt-in your-mouth texture which was contrasted nicely by the crunchy chickpea noodles. Depth of flavor was added by parmesan broth. To me, this showed better than any other dish Wylie's subtle mastery of flavor and texture. We all had ear to ear smiles.
Mains:Monkfish, oyster mushroom, squash, pumpernickel cocoa, pear consomme
I didn't get to try too much of this dish, but what I had worked nicely. The natural sweetness of the monkfish was echoed nicely by the pear flavor. I'm not sure what effect the pumpernickel cocoa was supposed to have, though.Wild King Salmon, quinoa, blood orange puree, toast oil
Wow. Man, this was one of the best things I've ever eaten, period. I normally don't order salmon when I go out to eat, but when I saw "toast oil" listed as one of the accompaniments, I simply had to see what the heck it was. I didn't think it was literally going to be a toast-infused oil. By golly, it was! And it was good! It tied all of the elements of the dish together in a way that, well, only toast oil could have. It tempered the brightness of the balsamic-poached salmon beautifully. Later on, Wylie and one of his assistants who came up with the idea explained it to me. The oil was made from toasted sourdough and grapeseed oil, and the idea behind it was to echo the flavors of orange marmelade on toast (hence, the blood orange puree). I guess it was originally concieved to go with vegemite (!) paper in another dish. Needless to say, I've been irritating everyone with endless accounts of this dish lately. Short ribs, smoked flatiron beef, kimchee spaetzle, papaya ravioli
I'm a big fan of kimchee and, well, short ribs, so I knew from the beginning I would love this one. It didn't disappoint.
Desserts:Grapefruit in grapefruit
This was the other little extra taste that came from kitchen. The name pretty much sums it up. It was basically grapefruit foam around a scoop of grapefruit sorbet with a little bit of struesel on the bottom. It had a great refreshing, cleansing effect after the savory courses.Olive Clafloutis, tangerine sorbet, cherry-walnut emulsion
I ordered this one mainly because I wanted to see how they could manage to work olives into a desert. I thought the olive would completely overwhelm the entire dish, but it dovetailed beautifully with the tangerine and cherry flavors. Truly an engaging dish.Lemon curd, basil meringue, blackberry chutney
I love basil in sweet courses and it really added another dimension to the otherwise lemon-heavy dish.French Toast, brown butter ice cream, raisin puree
I want to eat this every day for the rest of my life.
Afterward, I got to spend a minute or so in the kitchen and meet Wylie and some of the other staff. I was a bit star struck and at a loss for words, but everyone was so cool and willing to answer questions. It was a great way to cap off an amazing evening. While I have a giant list of restaurants in New York that I want to visit, I have a feeling this will become a regular destination.
Edited by iheartoffal, 18 April 2005 - 12:49 PM.
Nothing to see here.