WD-50

NEW-YORK !!! Here we are ! …

Days, no : months i was waiting for this foodie trip coming true. And for this first meal on US soil, i had booked a table at WD-50.

WD-50 was of a high priority for me in New-York. Based on the reviews and pictures i’ve seen since a couple of years, i definitely wanted to try it.

I scheduled this meal one day after my arrival at NY giving me some time to accomodate to the timezone. Not sure i did well as i was more tired then the day before…

After this meal, i must say that it was good, sometimes very good, but didn’t meet 100% my expectations, and actually, WD-50 is the most special restaurant of this level i’ve ever seen. This is not negative at all, it just means it is special. Location, food, wines, atmosphere, service… they were all different here from what i’m used to live.

The place is located in the south-east NY area, no huge buildings there, small streets where actually you couldn’t expect to find such a famous restaurant. Yes, famous, as the chef, Willy Dufresne is quite well known in the food world, for his appart cooking, for his creativity.

The entrance of the restaurant is hard to find, located in a small house in a middle of popular street. Once you get inside, the feeling is more to have entered a trendy bar. Surprising but we liked the atmosphere : extremely relaxed, nice welcome. Small problem : there was no table ready for us at 8pm (and i was hungry as hell). We are suggested to take a seat at the bar and start to look at the wine list and menu. An excellent cocktail for my wife, a sherry for me (what a great wine list by the way, i encourage many french restaurants to give more attention to the by the glass wine selection they suggest, often too small and classic).

20 minutes later, we are seated in the middle of the room, with a small view on the kitchen (as you can see on the picture, tables of 2 are quite close from eachother). We go of course for the full tasting menu, combined with the wine pairing menu for me.

Crispy crackers with sesame

Hamachi, butternut, amaranthe-carob, cream soda
Selim Vino Spumante, Brut de Conciliis 2006 (Campania, Italy)

Good introduction. A pity that this soda taste was not matching the rest to me.

Grilled corn pebbles, lime mayo, scallion
Selim Vino Spumante, Brut de Conciliis 2006 (Campania, Italy)

Very good. Soft and sweet tastes. Crazy textures. We loved it.

Chestnut-horseraddish soup, smoked mackerel, bartlett pear, verjus

Excellent again, and surprising as little pieces are hidden inside the soup. Was almost ready to order another one.

Scallops, tendon, endive, parsley, hazelnut oil
Riesling ‘Priorissa », Josef Schmid 2005, Kremstal, Austria

Another good one. Original tastes with this grilled pork above the raw scallops. A dish where you have to eat all components together and then it reveals its potential.

Eggs benedict
Bourgogne Passetoutgrain, Domaine Chevillon 2005 (Burgundy, France)

Again, interesting textures for pure tastes (the yolk texture was amazing).

Crab tail, soybean noodles, cinnamon dashi
Bourgogne Passetoutgrain, Domaine Chevillon 2005 (Burgundy, France)

A the begininng, it seemed to be the best dish of the meal, but then this cinnamon taste is appearing from nowhere and it didn »t work 100% to me. Very interesting as it is the first time since many meals i’m submitted to so many questions, issues : why this ? how to eat this one ? why this taste pairing ?

Fried quail, banana tartar, peppercress
Zinfandel ‘Pato Vineyard’ Neyers 2005, Napa Valley

Can’t comment this one as i hate banana.

Duck breast, spaghetti squash, almond polenta, grapefruit molasses
Zinfandel ‘Pato Vineyard’ Neyers 2005, Napa Valley

Too many strong tastes in the same plate here for me. The cooking of the duck was perfect. Each component here is great but they don’t work together for me here (in opposite to the scallop where you HAD to eat it mixing all tastes together).

While discussing with one of the waiters, i learned from him that the people seated at the table next to us were from Alinea, and Grant Achatz himself was sitting there in front of me. Funny knowing i’ll be there 2 days later. Small world, even here.

Ricotta, capres, frozen honey

This one was at the end the best dish of the meal. 3 tastes (maybe the reason), no more. And just excellent. This could be a Pierre Gagnaire dish.

Jasmine custard, black tea, banana
Chenin blanc ‘Off the rack’, Plantagenet 2006, Western Australia

Except the banana, it was excellent again.

Caramelized brioche, gala apple, sage, brown butter
Pansal del calas, Montsant dulce Capcanes, 2004, Montsant, Spain

Fantastic dessert, the brown butter ice is one the best thing i’ve eaten in a dessert. Huge.

Concord grape sorbet-black sesame

At the end, i must say i enjoyed it, but not 100%. I found the dishes delivered here sometimes too complex, from a taste perspective. Playing with textures is funny and when done appropriately, i’m totally OK. Playing with tastes is more risky. On 2 or 3 dishes here (hamachi, crab tail, duck), it didn’t matched my personal tastes, and i couldn’t understand how the dish was working. One thing is sure : the food is totally unique in a sense that creativity is there everywhere and more than in all places i’ve been before. Tastes are clear and strong while the chef dares a lot of strange/new/disturbing pairings.

The desserts were fantastic, maybe the best one we got during our stay.

The atmosphere at WD-50 is really different from what you can experience in France but i liked it. At the end of our meal, we were invited to meet the guys in the kitchen. We thanked them for the meal, and met the pastry chef, Alex Stupak, who was working at… Alinea before ! Told you, small small world.

A few words over the service : young guys, doing a great job, no ties, no suits, delivering great explanations and transmitting with knowledge and passion the dishes and wines offered to us. Really enjoyable.

It was a good start to our stay, the cheapest meal we did at the end, i would like to try it again, maybe in a better shape and choosing some « à la carte » dishes in order to review or confirm my impression.

We were the last « normal clients » to leave the restaurant, leaving the team with the Alinea table. Some minutes later, i litterally felt in my bed, for a huge sleep. Tomorrow is another day, with another dinner scheduled. Stay tuned.

Laurent V

6 commentaires

  1. Nice one, been there a year ago. Now I just came back from New York on monday and we’ve had dinner at Tailor, which goes in the same direction but where the experimentation isn’t pushed as far. Maybe a good pick for comparing it directly to WD-50?

    Have a nice stay

    Alex

  2. And I realize again, everyone loves those WD-50 desserts, they’re just genius! The first one always seems to mark the transition from savory to sweet with the capres there.
    I’ll always remember the white chocolate-potato-malt-white beer ice cream dessert I had there, it hasn’t been topped so far:
    http://blindtasting.twoday.net/stories/4421806/

    so once more, have a nice stay

    A.

  3. Lucky you!!! everything seems so perfect…enjoy your stay in NYC🙂

    Miss Gourmandise

  4. Vraiment , j’adore ! cette cuisine est rock’n’roll. Quelle créativité, osée souvent. Et Alex Stupak est vraiment une « bête ». Vivement la suite :-)))

  5. Tout à fait d’accord Walter : rock’n roll ! C’est marrant parce que c’est le premier mot qui m’est venu à l’esprit en milieu de ce repas : rock’n roll… et totalement décomplexé.

  6. You bring up a very good point about playing with textures versus playing with tastes. The latter is a bigger risk, but in the hands of most chefs, it simply does not provide a bigger payoff. Very few chefs can gamble and win consistently. The diners, instead, are often the ones whose shoulders must bear the risk. Nobody wants to eat something terrible to finance a chef’s development.
    Oh, and I agree that Alex Stupak is a super-talented pastry chef. Quite a nice guy, to boot.


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