WD~50 stands for Wylie Dufresne in 50 Clinton Street, NYC. Wylie is the head chef and owner. He holds one Michelin star.
I knew WD-50 was a bit of a gamble, the reviews are mixed and opinions are many. The style of WD-50 is experimental, using modern and to some extend molecular techniques. Comparing my taste in restaurants with the positive feedback, I felt certain that this creative place was a must visit for me if I wanted to experience the probably most experimental side of NYC dining. I went there the night I got to New York City, 15th May. At home I had without any luck tried to book via OpenTable. Thus I decided to walk in at 6pm at opening time and planned to eat at the bar if no table was available. Fortunately I didn’t need to sit at the bar. There was a free table for me.
Right from the start it was clear that the service was something special. I really felt taken care of in a genuine way. My server was patient and gave me all the time I needed to dwell on the food or providing extra time for getting more appetite.
I chose the tasting menu, of course, and a glass of champagne to celebrate that I was back in NYC again.
Then the bread basket arrived full of nice thin sesame crackers. Light and tasty.
Fluke, carob peanut, fennel
This was a super delicious piece of fluke and a light and pure starter. The peanut stuff at the bottom reminded me of peanut butter.
Everything bagel, smoked salmon threads, crispy cream cheese
The salmon was subtle and balanced with flavours of sweet onions and this was certainly a new presentation of the bagel. I enjoyed it.
Foie gras, passionfruit, Chinese celery – signature dish
The quality of the foie gras terrine was excellent, completely smooth. The dehydrated celery was sweet and crispy. The foie gras terrine was hollow and when cutting through it liquid passion fruit floated out. The passion fruit was highly acidic and had a slight bitter note to it. I can understand certain people may not like it, feel it’s too sour or too overpowering for the terrine, but not me. I really liked it.
Scrambled egg ravioli, charred avocado, kindai kampachi
It’s the potatoes in the front. They had a taste similar to pop-corn. It was a somewhat odd dish this one, it kinda lacked distinction. The flavours were creamy and mild. I felt it was missing a counterpart to provide some character. Still good, though.
Cold fried chicken, buttermilk-ricotta, tabasco, caviar
The next dish is said to have been inspired by leftovers from a chicken dinner. The tabasco had a surprising effect on my taste buds, because after eating a little of it the flavours of the caviar and the dough around the chicken came more out. The whole dish tasted much better, lifted by the tabasco. Brilliant. Again, I found the composition and the ingredients a little strange, like chicken and caviar but, I also found that I really enjoyed it.
Sweet shrimp, red pepper, black sesame, shiso
The prawns were very good and I loved the black sesame that was subtle and not strong. This dish was clearly a much richer course than the previous and it bridged nicely to the following.
At this point I asked for a glass of the Oregon Pinot Noir from Evening Land 2008. It was a rich but structured wine with lots of fruit and spices. It was quite powerful, very nice scent. There was a creamy touch to the long aftertaste. I loved the wine, and I find that after this trip, I have taken to Oregon Pinot. Not bad at all.
Beef and bearnaise
Another nice and surprising dish that played with textures. The beef was the most liquid part here; of course I would have expected the bearnaise to be that. I love both consommes and bearnaise sauce, so it was an easy thing for me to like this inverted steak bearnaise. It was marvelously balanced and the tarragon was pure and clear with the delicate beef soup.
Lamb loin, black garlic romesco, soybean, pickled ramps
The piece of free range Colorado lamb was a tender little thing. I’m a little difficult with lamb and very sensible to a woolen touch which this piece had. But the garnish really matched the lamb – especially the burnt garlic and the crunchy ramps.
Chewy lychee sorbet, pistachio, lemon, celery
A rather rich but nevertheless excellent cleanser followed.
Hazelnut tart, coconut, chocolate, chicory
The first of the two desserts was absolutely to die for. It was full blown, no holds barred hazelnut flavour enhanced by the salt on top and combined with the subtle coconut. I’m not sure which part of this was the chicory.
Caramelized brioche, apricot, butter-cream, lemon thyme
The second dessert was even better. The brioche was filled with apricot with such a pure and intense taste, and the dish as a whole was incredibly distinct and matched the sweet but fresh flavours.
After the desserts two pieces of chocolate accompanied my Jasmine tea. The chocolate shortbread, milk ice cream was a new representation of chocolate and biscuits. The packaged comprised tiny and crunchy chocolate balls inside the edible chocolate leather. The chocolate was developed by genius pastry chef Alex Stupak. His desserts were the best I had in New York.
At the end of the meal the kind server asked if I would care to see the kitchen. Wylie was there and we shook hands. Great thing. Great evening.
The unpretentious style, the creativity, the playfulness and the brilliant tossing about with American classics, like the up-side-down bagel and the inverted Steak Bernaise, is what I love about WD~50.
Full and well I strolled back to the subway and got off at Grand Central station, which was my stop. What a fine first night alone in NYC.