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Fois Gras with Anchovies on top: I almost barfed at the thought but I tried it and somehow it really works.

I understand. I mocked a recipe in the Michael Ginor foie gras book. It combined foie gras with smoked eel and green apple. It was from Martin Berasategui in the Spanish Basque region. My daughter told me that if I didn't get over there, try it and like it, she was going to disinherit me (or something like that) for having no taste. We took her advice. There are a number of restaurants where one best adapts a don't ask, don't tell attitude. Don't ask what's in the dish and don't tell the waiter what you like or want, just put yourself in the chef's hands and learn.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I am dining at WD50 this Saturday with five others. Our host worked on the building of the restaurant. Nonetheless, I will try to be sober in, if nothing else, my evaluation. However, my wife recalls details of dishes as well as anyone, come rain or come moonshine. We will give it a go and try to write something both coherent and illuminating.

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There are a number of restaurants where one best adapts a don't ask, don't tell attitude. Don't ask what's in the dish and don't tell the waiter what you like or want, just put yourself in the chef's hands and learn.

This reminds me of a conversation we had many years ago with the concierge at the hotel we were staying at in Lyon. At our request, he recommended a restaurant for lunch and also suggested that we order certain dishes, some of which were unfamiliar to us at the time. When we asked him to describe them, he replied that it was better that we not know exactly all the ingredients because, if we knew, we might be turned off. Assuring us that the suggested items were delicious, he encouraged us just to order them and enjoy. Which is exactly what we did. :smile:

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This reminds me of a conversation we had many years ago with the concierge at the hotel we were staying at in Lyon.  At our request, he recommended a restaurant for lunch and also suggested that we order certain dishes, some of which were unfamiliar to us at the time.  When we asked him to describe them, he replied that it was better that we not know exactly all the ingredients because, if we knew, we might be turned off.  Assuring us that the suggested items were delicious, he encouraged us just to order them and enjoy.  Which is exactly what we did.  :smile:

Good story. I'd be curious to know what he recommended. Maybe you want to start a thread in the France board if you can remember.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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To know about possible constraints on my objectivity towards Wylie Dufresne’s restaurant, WD50, you have to know some background about my pal Louis. Besides being a consummate gourmand (he wears his foodiness with a quiet confidence) and excellent amateur cook, Louis has also known Dewey Dufrene, Wylie's father, for 30 years. Since Louis is a talented and renown sculptor working in metal and glass, Dewey pressed Louis into serving on the design and building team for Wylie's restaurant. As part of his deal, Louis is the only person permitted to bring in his own wine. The upshot is that I can't tell you about the wine list, let alone criticize the significant part of the interior that Louis created; i.e. the gorgeous copper fireplace that evoked in my mind right way both the American Arts and Crafts and Prairie School movements; nor the amusing Pinocchio-inspired glass sconce to the right in the small entranceway, and the light-hearted hanging lamps that are on one side of the room, and over the bar, fashioned in monochromatic glass in conical shapes, amphora, and Dr Seuss hats. Like Wylie Dufresne's cuisine, the overall interior is eclectic , unexpected, and unlike any that you are apt to find in any restaurant.. As for the service, I am unable to evaluate it since everyone who waited on us was chatty and familiar with our host Louis..

WD50 is what one would call a high-risk operation. How much the choice of Clinton Street on the Lower East Side is because it became Wiley's neighborhood since his last job was at 71 Clinton Fresh Food, and that both Dewey and Wiley live in the neighborhood is hard to say. Given the nature of the cuisine, WD50 could easily be further uptown and in a "classier" part of town, although the informal and relaxed nature suggests more downtown. Getting to opening night was an arduous eight-month task, which is understandable once you see not only the interior, but also the kitchen, which is very large, well-equipped and extends into the basement. Above all, this is a serious restaurant operation that also has its own dessert chef (Sam Mason), a dozen in the kitchen, six servers and two coat-checkers. Given all that, the menu prices are a bargain for the level of cooking (the eight appetizers between $12 and $16; the eight main courses between $22 and $28; and the seven desserts $10. each) and it would not break my heart to see them go higher, if that is what is called for.

Despite a full house that included Daniel Boulud and Gordon Ramsey as part of a large group celebrating Restaurant Daniel’s tenth anniversary, Wylie was relaxed and not the least bit distracted when he came to or table to meet us and chat with Louis. As if to drive the point home as to his control of the kitchen, every dish came to the table as intended. There was nothing to question, let alone send back. While we did not taste anything that transcended New York City restaurant cooking (we almost never have), what we did eat was some of the most interesting and challenging we have had here. So not only are the dishes prepared as intended, some of them look beautiful upon arrival. A case in point was the appetizer “Oysters, granny smith apple, dried olive, pistachio”. It was laid out like a carpaccio with the white and black of the oyster making an abstraction. Because the dish belonged to one of my dining mates, I only had one bite. Its taste reminded me instantly of the “Ostras con Alemendras Tiernas” (oysters with raw almonds) that I had had a few weeks ago at El Bulli: both dishes fresher-tasting than most oysters. My squid linguine, poached and served in a cup-like bowl with Asian pear, small pieces of Serrano ham, and sweet paprika was sophisticated comfort food and not fishy, which testified to its freshness. Louis and my wife, on Louis’s urging, had “Corned duck, rye crisp, purple mustard, horseradish cream” that also included strips of fresh horseradish. The duck was juicy, with the dish being a host of textures (crunchy, chewy, softness) that hit the palate at differing moments. Louis called the creation “harmonious”.

I seemed to be the only person that felt a longish wait between courses, but nonetheless worth it. The lengthy pause was broken up with a “freebie” from Wylie of two small piece of rabbit sausage with pistachios that made you wish there were more. I had loin of lamb with thin slices of cucumber and wood sorrel served in a spiced pear consommé that gave it an Asian accent. I was at first flummoxed by the broth, feeling that it was more suitable for a fish dish. Soon, I found myself in synch and ended up highly pleased. My wife enjoyed the dish very much from her first taste. Louis ordered “Pork belly, black soy beans, turnips.” That he described as having layers of meat and fat with the fat being very sweet. Sturgeon with red lentils, fava beans and nori was meaty and full of diverse textures from the legumes and the nori. Another dish on the menu that Louis recommends, but which no one ordered is the panned-sautéed skate wing with tender and fleshy lemon gnocci made with preserved lemon.

Pastry chef Sam Mason works in the omnipresent components style of desserts. Following Wylie’s dictate, desserts are not overly sweet. Two of the desserts had dyhydrated elements: roasted pineapple and a caramelized banana, which my wife felt were like a marathoner in need of water. Nonetheless the banana served on top of a tart with licorice sauce and chocolate ice cream was good; the roasted pineapple with Manchego cheese and pineapple sorbet less so. Among other desserts on the menu, Louis touted the “Citrus panna cotta, grapefruit sorbet, huckleberry sauce.”.

I would like to think that my opinion of WD50 wasn’t any more than a bit tilted by dining in the company of a friend and collaborator of Wylie. For sure I will return with my wife on our own; and she is not one to have her head turned. Not only did she praise the integrity of WD50, but would not understand if this restaurant did not have the success of a Gramercy Tavern. In other words, this is adventurous, non-hand-holding dining for people who know where to go for cuisine that confronts the palate and makes you think and reflect upon what you are eating. And to think that at 32 years of age, Wylie (and his cuisine) is still a work-in-progress.

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Robert,

Thanks for the detailed report. I can't wait to go. I'm a big fan of Wylie's from his 71 Clinton days. WD50 is number one on my to-go-to in NYC list.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  • 3 weeks later...

I had a excellent meal at wd 50 last week.

I believe Wylie now has his dream restaurant or more likely kitchen which he can now explore a more adventurous cuisine that could not be done in his much smaller kitchen at 71 C.F.F.

I believe he has taken a risk as in I'm sure his cooking will not excite the mass diner as 71 C.F.F. did.

I went with a friend so I was able to sample quite a bit of the menu, and service was perfect, which is rare for a restaurant so young. Our waitress Mary was a walking dictionary of the menu. Mary followed Wylie from 71 C.F.F to WD50 and I would recommend to all to ask for her. I started with the Oysters, granny smith apple, dried olive,pistachio. I enjoyed this dish,but to be honest the texture through me off a bit. :blink: My friend had the Artichoke soup, mussels, chorizo, tangerine oil which I tasted and was a great blend of flavors. Next I had the Foie gras\anchovy terrire, pommelo, tarragon. This dish was a tour de force. :wub: It had to be one of the best appetizers I ever had. My friend had the Squid linguine, asian pear, serrano ham, sweet paprika, again an excellent dish. I then went on to have the Monkfish, snow peas, black trumpet mushrooms, bonito broth, mint oil. While my friend had the Pork belly, black soy beans, turnips. The Monkfish also had a round disk of Monkfish liver in it. Yum! Very light and refreshing. I tasted the pork belly. Oh my god it was awesome. I can't wait to return again and I must add that the presentation of these dishes were over the top. The Foie gras looked like a jewel on a plate.

Desserts where also awesome.

Robert R.

Robert R

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Had a very good meal at WD50 last night. Foie Gras was everything described here. Monkfish poached in bonito broth was sublime. Very very nice. Wife had the artichoke soup that she described as much better than both my dishes. However her skate was average - oily (clearly a case of heightened expectations after the soup). Desserts were good but not great. The service was very good, especially for a new place. WD was in the kitchen on Mem day, toiling over the sweet cooking range he got custom made in the south of France. Took out a couple of minutes to talk to us. The place was humming. My advice - GO.

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Robert R., whether the review is tomorrow (which I think it will be) or not, WD50 has three stars written all over it. (God help me if I'm wrong). The NYC dining scene is in dire need of a "hot young chef" and it has been obvious for a year or so that the Times food section really likes Dufresne, as witnessed by that seven-part series they do, the feature story on his devising dishes for the opening, and running a picture or two of his dishes (as in the recent article on pork belly).

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Robert,

I agree with you on the account of all the press it has gotten, But it was interesting to hear one of the staff point out to me that they did not believe three star's are written in stone do to the fact that the service is casual even though they believe the food is three stars.

Robert R

Robert R

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This from a reliable source involved with WD50: Grimes’ review is to appear this coming Wednesday. If our dinner there last night is a harbinger, Wiley Dufresne merits three stars. This meal showed the kitchen in even better form than my first meal there a month ago. Because we were with “family” (our friend Louis from my initial post about WD50) we received a preview of two dishes going on the menu as of last night (Friday, June 6) and one dish still a work-in-progress. Nonetheless, my wife and I and the three others at the table all were in agreement that this was, without a doubt, everyone’s best meal there so far. I am returning for dinner there next week and will let you know more about the menu changes.

The main-course dish that debuted this past Friday is a deboned and pressed poussin which rests along side a poached quail egg, both sauced with a pumpernickel foam. Roasted fennel seeds; sweet marjoram leaves; split peas; and a puddle of an intense “jus” were added to enhance the conception. The dish that Wylie is still fine-tuning is rouget. In its present state the fish rests on two dried cherry tomatoes with a salsa of dried cherries and Chinese sausage on the side. The fish was placed on a sauce of nasturtium (an edible flower) and cucumber.

Our waitress brought us five desserts, two of which are new creations from pastry chef Sam Mason that may now be on the menu. Celery sorbet atop of peanut-flavored rice crisps was superb with the taste of celery both pronounced and refreshing. The texture of the sorbet was technically perfect. Warm cherries with walnut foam resting on crunchy caramelized walnut bits was, as my wife noted, a kind of dessert one might find at El Bulli. This was an absolutely delicious dessert, although we questioned if it was necessary to make the walnuts sweet.

Of course none of the above gives me insight as to how Grimes will rate WD50. However, I have to change my guess to what Robert40 brings up. Its location and informality suggest to me a two-star rating with a three-star text.

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I had a delightful meal there a few weeks back. It's a dream place for a chef. The kitchen is about the same size as the dining room. LOVE the informal wine service, Dewey is a great host--and the food was terrific. That pork belly is easily one of the Great New Dishes of the year. The infamous foie with anchovies actually works!! And I thought the calamari "pasta" was sensational. I was deeply apprehensive about this meal--really didn't know if they were going to pull it off. But it was. I think, very fine--a rare example of food that is both actively "challenging" and good. I'd do it again--and again--in a heartbeat. And will.

abourdain

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