Monday, March 30, 2009

[NYC '09: Dinner, day 3] WD-50: OH MY GOD

(Sesame Bread "Basket")


I can’t believe I finally ate at WD-50. This was probably one of the most amazing dining experiences I’ve had thus far. STELLAR stuff. WOW.

I was actually scared that WD-50 would be just riding on the gimmick molecular gastronomy wagon but OMG (that’s going to be the word of this post) the food was amaaaaaaaazing. Hands down the best meal during this trip.

(Corned duck on rye crisp)

I was a little put off at first when the waitress insisted we order an appetizer. I mean, I’ve never been imposed upon by the waitstaff to order so it was a little off-putting. But dayam am I glad she made that suggestion. We ordered the corned duck, rye crisp, purple mustard, horseradish cream ($15) which was my first taste of meat since about half a year ago. The smoked duck was sliced to a paper thin thickness, ensuring maximum tenderness and that melt-in-your-mouth meat was wrapped around my new favorite condiment – mustard. Great flavor combination, and it was especially enhanced by the slight sweet tinge of the filling. It was great stuff but it was definitely overshadowed by…

(Absolutely AMAZING: THIS is eggs benedict!)

THE eggs benedict ($16). This was some trippy-ass shit. It was mind-blowing already as a visual concept. I ate the “egg yolk” by itself at first and thought “meh.” Then I cut off a bit of the fried hollandaise cube, ate that in one bite with the crispy bacon and a bit of the egg yolk and, oh wow…one small bite packed massive flavor. AMAZING.


(Cutting open the fried hollandaise cube)

We tackled the entrée page right after and this was all the more special for me because it marked my official reentry into the land of meat. Debs ordered the tile fish celery root, wood ear mushroom, chinese sausage consomme ($29) and Sunny took a stab at the pork ribs, fried plantain, hibiscus, jerk consommé ($29). And as for me, I ordered the wagyu beef skirt steak, long bean, tamardine with peanut butter "pasta" ($35).

(Abstract: Tilefish)

(melt-in-your-mouth blocks: pork ribs)

The food at WD-50 isn’t JUST food, they’re works of art. Debs’ tilefish and Sunny’s pork ribs looked like they had popped out from the Guggenheim. My skirt steak was probably the least “abstract” and molecular gastronomy-esque out of the entrees but I totally DID NOT MIND. Seriously, I can’t think of a better way to reenter the meat-eater’s world than with WD-50’s skirt steak. I ordered the steak medium rare and it was cooked to ABSOLUTE PERFECTION. It was literally, melt-in-your-mouth richness. I could tear the beef apart with a fork alone. The flavor was also absolutely on target. The smokey flavor of charred beef shone through while the inner part of the steak was still juicy and moist. I’m sorry, I have to say it again: OMG. The dish came with a side of long beans which had a weird plasticy taste. I’m going to blame it on the tamarind. The other side was the peanut “pasta” which turned out just to be Asian bean curd sheets cut into strips. Distinct peanut taste and an ingenius balance to the heavy, meaty wagyu.

(What perfection tastes like: Wagyu Steak)

Desserts are amazing too. I ordered the coconut (of course!), hazelnut “tart” ($15) and – wow – how do I even explain this? The tart was more a pudding flan than an actual tart. The “crust” wasn’t a crust at all but another layer of custard that rims the filling. The chicory foam was strong and smokey and the hazelnut shavings were sandy bits of sweet sweet goodness. The dessert tasted like a sophisticated Kinder bueno bar – I could eat this forever. Debs ordered jasmine custard, black tea and banana dessert ($15). The banana and jasmine custard was silky smooth and rich. But the “tea” components were the real stars. The desserts were extremely well executed and every single individual component shone through. The meal ended with complimentary ice cream truffles in cocoa nibs. Perfect balance of cool, and smooth vanilla-y sweetness and coarse bitter cocoa. Perfect.

(Coconut + Hazelnut + WD-50 = VERY good times)

(Bring on the tea: Jasmine Custard)

(Truffles in cocoa nibs)

Service swung both ways for me. In general, I thought the service was great. I just didn’t really like our serving waitress. She was pretty cold. But the other waiters/waitresses and the maître d' made up for it. The atmosphere was great as well. It’s nice to be able to have such transcendently fine dining in such a casual, fun environment. I loved every bit of WD-50. And as a icing on the cake, the open kitchen at the back of the restaurant gave me a view of the genius Wylie Dufresne at work

FOOD: 5/5

WD-50 ($$$)
50 Clinton St.
New York, NY 10002
(212) 477-2900

No comments: