L2O

It was not an easy task for L2O to be our next meal after the tremendous evening we had the day before at Alinea. But i was not really worried. From what i had read on a few blogs (U.E. and Chuck), i was convinced that L2O could provide a lot of pleasure too and be maybe the best surprise of this trip.

Restaurant L2O is located in front of the Lincoln Park, in a very nice area of Chicago North. After a 10 minutes taxi drive from our hotel, we arrived there at 8pm, on time and hungry (yes, yes, hungry…).

Once we entered the restaurant, we were immediately seduced by the beauty of the place.

Our table was nested in a little alcove, bringing a great intimacy and a small romantic touch, not bad at all. The table is in marble (or a sort of marble, no idea), with very comfortable seats.

The service is quite young, probably the youngest we got during our stay but performed quite well and was extremely attentive to us.

For the aperitive, we decided to start with a glass of white wine (a greek viognier from Skouros domain) and i immediately have a look to the wine list, again really attractive and offering a nice « by the glass » wine selection.

For this last meal, we’ll go of course for the tasting menu, but no wine pairing this time, i wanted to try some american wines for my last meal and we selected a chardonnay from Dumol 2005 – really good and meeting 100% my expectations : buttered, oaked but still fresh and correctly balanced.

Then we start the menu with the following appetizers :

Salmon

This first small appetizer confirms the feedbacks i had : we are in a restaurant specialized in fish. And the fish quality here is of an extremely high level, even for this small first bite.

Tuna

This was confirmed by this second appetize where we got raw tuna matched with lime foam.

Kinmedai, cherry wood scentend, shiso bud

And here comes the first starter : a fish i never ate before and i must admit it was absolutely stunning. What a quality of product, and what a finesse and subtile pairing with the wood scents and the shiso buds. I loved it. We loved it.

Tuna, yuzu, soy sauce, olive oil

This next dish was great but less surprising then the previous one. The yuzu and soy sauces are really good and we were happy they were here to bring some stronger tastes to balance the tuna itself.

Tofu

I miss the details of the dish. And this is a real pity as i remembered it being the best of the meal. First time of my life i’m eating tofu like this one. Amazing taste, enriched with the onions, sauce and flowers. Fantastic.

Spanish mackerel, pickled cucumber

For this next course, we were served fresh and raw mackerel, first time i eat mackerel in such a way. And in opposite of the tastes i was used to have when eating such fish cooked and caramelized, it’s of an absolute sweeteness here and brillantly paired with a light olive oil and some cucumber thin slices. Lovely.

Halibut, butter poached, oyster, frisée, parsley,

This course was the most impressive course of the meal from a visual perspective. I enjoyed the arrival of the dish on the table, and was positively surprised by the first bites i took.

The fish had a fantastic taste and was perfectly cooked (to me). I enjoyed the soft but crunchy parsley texture. The oyster (under the frisée) brings some iodic and freshness in the plate. Excellent fish course. Another one…

Swordfish, fennel, olive, bow tie arugula

That was the single disappointing dish of the evening. It was nice, good, but had nothing exceptional too. Probably due to the cooking of the swordfish, slightly too overcooked for me.

Suruma Ika Taglioni, parsley

This next course brings this meal again at the top. A very delicate dish, perfect cooking of the squid, a light and creamy sauce and very tasty taglioni : excellent again.

Skate wing , bordelaise, asparagus

First time i got skate wing prepared like this and it was really interesting. The concept of serving it slightly caramelized with asparagus and mainly bordelaise sauce gives this dish an originality that was very successfull. Great quality again of the fish : very good.

Pork belly, truffle, potato

I was questionning myself how a restaurant focusing so much on fish will serve and assume a meat course. Actually, it was good but not reaching the same quality level of the fish courses we had before. The truffle taste is well balanced with the potatoes while the pork is really well cooked but it doesn »t bring you to the next level where you are thrilled by what you eat. It was good but not unforgettable.

Shabu-shabu Medai, Kombu bouillon

Back to some fish again, and we liked it. Some hot bouillon was served together with a set of raw fishes we had to cook using the bouillon. It was the best possible end to this meal : incredible quality product, we enjoyed a delicious moment there tasting all these fish pieces.

Mango

I must say that except at Eleven Madison Park, i’ve found all the desserts we had (at WD50, Alinea and now here) from a very good level, probably higher from what i’m used to experience in France. This one here was again very good, bringing tastes straight to point but not to strongly, neither heavy.

Praline

Eating this one, i remembered the souffle i ate at Pierre Gagnaire 2 weeks before (i couldn’t finish it). This praline souffle is this time light and easy to eat, the praline taste and souffle texture are cleverly balanced in a way that this dessert can easily be eated. Great.

Mignardises

It never ended… what a nice meal again. From a quality perspective, and focusing on fish only, it’s one of the best fish menu i ever enjoyed.  The desserts and mignardises were perfect too. It’s not only innovative and good, it’s also about discovering new products and cooking methods. L2O succeeded in that higher that we could have ever imagine. And after the pleasure and emotions we got at Alinea, we really enjoyed L2O thanks to the already quite strong and solid food identity they demonstrate.

Except this swordfish course, really below the others, it was an excellent meal, in a fine and delicate atmoshere, served by a great and young team. Definitely a must for any foodie traveller to Chicago.

Before leaving the dining room, i asked to meet the chef (a french chef : Laurent Gras) but he was already gone : that was actually the single regret we had leaving L2O.

This closes a 5 days trip and 4 very good and different meals. I would visit each of them for sure again if i have any opportunity in the future. But not short term as my next trip is now scheduled in February 09 and Tokyo will be our new destination !

GoTiquement vôtre,

Laurent

Publicités

Alinea

I had high expectations, very high even, when entering Alinea in the surroundings of Chicago old town.

Actually, to be honest, i booked this whole trip in the States just for going there (but don’t tell my wife please).

I also built all my other meals and flights based on this one at Alinea.

So what can i say after spending 5 hours there ? That i probably never experienced such a global performance before, ranking this meal immediately in my top 3, together with the Fat Duck and Noma. These places can’t be compared, and i’ll not try to do it. They have one thing in common : you come out there with a smile on your face and the feeling of an intense pleasure that will thrill you days and days after.

I succeeded to book a table 2 months earlier for this friday evening, around 9PM. Quite late but i secured my dinner knowing i was flying from NY a couple of hours ago and i didn’t want to take any risks.

Actually, all went perfectly well and we arrived there fresh and ready as never.

The entrance of Alinea is a little bit surprising. A dark house, a discrete entrance, a long hall with modern red lights, you do not see any door in this hall. Then when walking forward, an automated door opens on your left and you enter in the welcome hall.

On your left and also on the floor above : the dining rooms, on your right : the kitchen and an impressive number of people in action there.

We are seated in the small dining room on the left, at a nice and large square table for 2, nice intimacy, just 10 people in the same room, lovely.

A totally delicate and modern atmosphere. No plate, no fork or knives on the table, just a small towel and a glass of water. We are then warmly welcomed by one of the personnel member in charge of this room, they were 3, including an extraordinary sommelier.

And as from now on, we’ll just let us guide by the team, 25 fantastic dishes and wonderful small bites will be served in a perfect timing, paired with 13 different wines.

Here is the Tour Menu of October 31 :

Trout Roe, coconut, hyssop, passionfruit

Cocktail of Henriot Brut, Pineau des Charentes and Campari

We immediately started with an extremely good first dish. High quality of trout roes. I also enjoyed the cocktail, quite well balanced and not too strong.

Lemongrass, bigeye tuna, sesame, yuzu

This second course (bite) is amazing. Delicate tastes, the products are placed on a thin lemongrass leaf, a chirurgical work, also in the taste balance. Rich in mouth with no dominant player … fantastic.

Cauliflower, five coatings, three gels, apple

Venica Venica Tocai Friulanno « Ronco delle Cime », Collio 2007

I’m a fan of cauliflower. Ok, i know, sounds wierd, but i love cauliflower.. could eat that every day. So when appeared this dish with the vegetable in different textures, i was in heaven. Because the dish didn’t meet my tastes only, it was extremely well realized.

Chicken liver, bacon, caramelized onion, vin santo

Another great bite. Imagine how much time it takes to create this small bite, knowing how precise the tastes are. Stronger then on the previous dishes, it was really good and impressed me by the detail level of the realization.

Crabapple, foie gras, brown sugar sorrel

When i saw this sort of antenna with this small bite at the top, i asked me « how to eat that one ? ». Answer is simple : move your head forward, open your mouth around the bite and take it. Again, i was impressed by the accuracy of this small bite. Tastes were so subtiles, the presentation was so original and precise. I realize i was living one of my best experience ever. Of course, frustration can raise as these bites are a ‘one-shot’ tasting,  but because of their ephemere existence, it increased my personal pleasure of eating them.

Pear, olive oil, black pepper, eucalyptus

I loved the material, no standard plates here, most of the dishes/bites are served using very original containers. This bite was of the same level as the previous one : explosive, tasty and so subtile.

Cobia, tobacco, radish, cedarwood

Fonthill « Sea Air » Verdelho, McLaren Vale, Australia, 2006

That dish could be one of the dish of the evening. This white bowl arrived on table, topped, then the waiter took out the top and you discover this small bite, raw fish, while some smoke is coming out and parfuming the table. The bite itself was wonderful. I’ll remember for long the taste of the fish there.

Celery, pork belly, shiso, sudachi

Michel Chapoutier Hermitage blanc « Chante Alouette », Rhône, 2003

This dish is suggested on the same approach as the previous one (without smoke). It was maybe the only dish (from the 25 we got) that was a level below, good, no more.

Halibut, chamomile, shellfish, fennel

This one is one of the higlight of the meal. A new dish created recently by Grant Achatz. It was simply extraordinary. A mix of delicate tastes, great products and clever textures.

Lamb, saffron, poppy seed, pistachio

Andrea Franchetti Passopisciaro, Sicily, 2006

We are keeping the same quality and pleasure level with this lamb course. The saffran and pistachio are giving this dish a great dimension, strong tastes but not brutal. Even here, Grant Achatz manages to keep tastes so well balanced and even bring finesse and subtility thanks to the seeds. I loved it.

The same dish once the glass (with an empty bottom) is removed.

Rabbit, prune, shallot, burning leaves

We felt this one arriving from far, before it reached our table… because of the smell of burning leaves parfuming our room. A finger food bite, totally original and more important : tasty as hell. Wow wow wow, no words to express our feelings here (again).

Concord grape, yogurt, mint long pepper

This small bite was an explosion of tastes. And i really appreciated the intelligence of switching here with a fresher bite. Great.

Transarency of raspberry, rose petal, yogurt

This one is « just for fun » but was tasty as expected. And now, here comes THE moment of the meal for me when, while i was eating the raspberry dish (… and playing with the inox coil) arrive these 2 square red « flags »… nothing else than Kobe beef, almost frozen. The waiter putted that on the corner of our table and moved to the next dish… Interesting…

Hot potato, cold potato, black truffle, butter

H. Billot brut rosé, Ambonnay

I remember i was loosing my words when trying to describe the feelings i had eating this dish. Cold potato soup, hot one topped by a truffle leave. It was amazing. And i really enjoyed the pairing with the rosé champagne. Not convinced at the beginning but i must say it worked well. Generally speaking, all the wines suggested here in the pairing menu were cleverly choosen. I clearly enjoyed the wine itself but also the moment where for each wine the sommelier came to us and explained in a very detailed way why they had choosen this wine.

Yuba, shrimp, miso, togarashi

Guess what ? This shrimp course was very good. Finger food again. But always in a way that you feel the product behind some apparent modernity, and always in a way that tastes are putted forward. Brilliant.

And while we are moving from dishes to dishes, our 2 little red flags are still there, the meat rising the dining room temperature.

Alaskan king crab, popcorn, butter, curry

Chéreau-carré Muscadet « Comte Leloup de Chasseloir, Ceps Centenaires », Loire, 2002

What a dish here !  Quite rich tastes, the butter is well present but not too much, a great quality of king crab, i enjoyed not only the visual but also the generosity of the plate. And again, look at the details, the textures, it looks so clean, so obvious, …

Wagyu beef, maitake, smoked date, Blis elixir

Drouhin-Laroze « Clos de Vougeot » Grand Cru, Côte de Nuits, 2002

And here we are. 30 minutes after they brought us the 2 meat pieces at our table, we are now served this wagyu beef course. Under the meat slice, some mushrooms. The waiter indeed picked the meat slice and topped the mushroom with it. The meat remains raw and works as a ‘carpaccio’ except it has been warmed during 30 minutes in the room and slightly cooked by the warm of mushrooms and sauce. I must say i don’t like mushrooms a lot (except truffles 🙂 ) but in this case, i could eat everything and was totally thrilled by the beef. Amazing. And looking back to this course preparation, i was again impressed by their anticipation, the timing where all this happen. Fantastic.

Black truffle explosion, romaine, parmesan

I was looking for my second breath, trying to find a way to come down to earth when this black truffle explosion course arrived. Geez, i couldn’t go down, i stayed in heaven. The picture doesn’t reflect the power and quality of this small bite but i can tell you that i’m still thinking today to this sequence of dishes i’ll never forget.

Venison, potato, sunflower, sweet spice

Cims de Porrera « Classic », Priorat, 2004

This (magnificent) next course was of a very good level… probably i would have found this course on-site excellent in other circumstances. But after the kobe beef and black truffle explosion, it’s difficult for the next dish to exist. This one is doing well and when thinking back to this meal, i must admit it was even … excellent.

Bacon, butterscotch, apple, thyme

Grant Achatz likes to play, and this small bite coming from space can testify it. On one thing bacon slice are « sticked » more things you can imagine. I wondered how they do that. These guys are in permanent research for accuracy and performance. Crazy. Oops : on top of that, it was tasty….

Strawberry, violet, niçoise, oliver

At this stage of the meal, you almost don’t know where you are (we received the printed menu after the meal). One thing is sure : you know that you are living something unique, watching and tasting a unique food performance.

Dry shot, pineapple, rum, cilantro

On the road to the desserts, this small paper pocket with some fruity powder : finger food again. Good.

Pumpkin, gruyere, Blis maple syrup, smoke

Klein Constantia « Vin de Constance », Constantia, South Africa, 2004

What to say… on a white pillow placed in front of you, the waiter brings the first dessert. Of course, the weight of the plate has en effect on the pillow and some smoke and parfume is coming out from the pillow itself. What a show. Funny ? … yes. But is the dish itsfelf at the level of the visual show ?

Answer is : definitely yes. There was a perfect match between the tastes and the wine. The smoke doesn’t only bring fun but also a great parfume playing with all your senses. And again, what a generosity in the plate : large portions, even for this 23rd course …

Oh, of course, at the end, the pillow is totally flat…. no time for a little nap.

Chocolate, fig, olive, pine

Christian Drouin « Coeur de Lion », Pommeau de Normandie, France

In some restaurants, you end your meal with some light and fresh desserts, not here. Strong tastes, huge work on the textures (the performance is there to the end). I enjoyed it but not as the pumpkin dessert.

Dry Caramel, salt

Last small bite : some dry salty caramel. Funny indeed but also tasty. A nice end.

What i’ll remember from this experience is 2 things : 1/ the pleasure i got eating all these dishes, each one being different from the previous and next one. You don’t know what to expect, you’re always surprised by something : a taste, a texture, a smoke, the plate visual itself, … 2/ the performance. Being able to deliver 25 courses like this in a perfect timing (i didn’t insist on that but the timing between the courses was perfect) is a great performance. Performance also in the detail level in each dish : there is a considerable amount of work for each single bite there. And there was no failure. Not even a small one.

Some comments on the service : lovely, professional, passionate and with a great sense of humor, what we really appreciated. They gave us 2 black enveloppes with a printed copy of the menu inside and explained us that the size of the circles beside each dish indicates the size of the dish (main, small, bite…). Genious…

So, at the end of this meal, words are unecessary. At least to me. My single remaining objective was to meet and thank Grant Achatz, the 27 years old chef. My wife and the welcome hostess aranged it and while we were almost out, he came to us and kindly greeted us. I congratulated him for this extraordinay meal and was given his book, signed by him as souvenir. Lovely.

Outside Alinea at this hour of the day (2 am), we were quickly brought back to reality : Halloween night, crowded streets, people shouting and fighting for a taxi. War time (almost).  But nothing could hurt or break our happyness. We did it and will never forget it. We’ll even try to redo it in the future. Hopefully.

Laurent V

Eleven Madison Park

Our second NY dinner was planned at Eleven Madison Park, the day after WD-50.

We arrived on time (8pm), and were facing the beautiful entrance. How many guests are eating here ?

Once comfortably seated in a small square table located in a corner of the huge dining room, our dinner can start with a glass of champagne from Henri Goutorbe, Cuvée Prestige, from Ay and some delicous amuses.

These amuses were really excellent. Not exceptional, but excellent. Fresh, tasty, crispy. Very good start.

We of course decide to select the Gourmand Menu, a 12 courses menu, with wine pairing for me.

The dining room is beautiful and huge indeed with high ceilings. The flowers decoration reminds me the Cinq in Paris in some way.

The atmosphere looks more strict of course than WD-50, but very cosy and enjoyable. The service was also quite strict and highly distant at the beginning but we managed to have some talks, and a couple of hours later, the ice was broken and we enjoyed nice chats with the guys taking care of us.

Back to the menu, a 12 courses « surprise » menu, they asked us if we had some allergies or products we didn’t liked, and also asked if we would like to add some Alba truffles on one dish… we said yes.

Royal Sterling Caviar, baked potato ice cream with sour cream and chives

Henri Goutorbe, Cuvée prestige, Ay, Vallée de la Marne, Champagne

Excellent first dish. The ice cream was fantastic : subtile taste, sweet, matching really well with the cream and the caviar.

Heirloom beets, liquid sphere with Lynnhaven « chèvre frais »

Some pure molecular but now classic dish here : we were told that the cheese was coming from one of the best regional US producer, and i must say it was really tasty and excellent.

Cape Cod Bay Crab, roulade with advocado, lime and yoghurt

Trimbach, Riesling, Cuvée Frédéric Emile, 2001, Alsace

One of the highlight of the meal ! Great product quality, tastes were extremely well balanced and the overall freshness was really appreciated.

Foie gras, terrine with golden pineapple, pickeld pearl onions and rum-raisin brioche

Chateau Tirecul La Gravière, Clos du Chateau, Monbazillac, 2003

Another highlight of this meal : the pairing with the pineapple can be surprising but after first bites, it works perfectly well and even sounds logical.  The brioche and small emulsion served besides were terrific as well.

Alba truffles, russet potato gnocchi with Parmiggiano Reggiano

Rocche dei Manzoni, Vigna dei Dardi, Barolo, Piedmont, 1998

The cooking of the gnocchis was great. Overall, this dish was very good but not exceptional. The truffles came in a small box, and they grated some slices on our dishes. The smell was there but it was really not tasty at all. Later on when paying the bill, we’ll discover they have priced this extra truffle course at 180$ for the 2 of us. Hum. What to say. Just trying to forget it.

Maine Diver Scallop, seared with acorn squash, satsuma tangerine and ginger

Dirler, Gewurtzraminer, Saering, Grand Cru, 2003, Alsace

Fortunately, the next dish came on table and this scallop course was excellent. A very nice course, not only from a visual perspective. Strong tastes, perfect cooking, maybe the best dish of the menu to me.

For the next fish course, i never managed to get the detailed course description as the printed menu they gave us at the end of our evening was wrong on some dishes. Ennoying but no that much as this course was probably the less interesting one of our meal.

Same description issue for the next dish, we didn’t get the right description (and i didn’t ask for the good one when i realized it some days later – shame on me).

The previous fish course was OK, no more, while the last one here above, was really good again.

Fot this last dish, we enjoyed a nice burgundy wine : Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier, Clos de la Maréchale, Premier Cru, Monopole, Nuits-Saint-Georges, 2004.

A word about the wine list : one of the best i’ve seen recently. They said that wine is also their expertise, hard to check on evening only, but at least their wine menu is impressive and of high quality.

Colorado Lamb, herb roasted with parsnips, cumin and sheep’s milk yogurt

Excellent dish. I appreciate the cooking of the lamb, the whole components working well and offering a great pairing with the wine.

Fromages

Quinta do Noval, 20 year tawny

American cheese again, i loved them. Very interesting.

Malted Milkshake, sorbet with tahitian vanilla and Terre Bormane olive oil

Billecart Salmon, Demi-sec, Champagne

My preferred dessert without any doubt. Second time i have malted preparation for a dessert (after my Ledoyen lunch) and this was one was as good as the one we got in Paris.

Milk chocolate, palette with bosc pears and chestnuts

Chateau de Suronde, Quarts de Chaume, Loire Valley, 2000

Good dessert, nothing exceptional but good.

Mignardises

We ended our meal with a great selection of petits fours, we tried all of them and they were just excellent… 🙂

We left EMP around 1am, pleased with the evening we had.

The wines we got were diversified and of an excellent quality level. The service appeared to be extremely professional and efficient, maybe too « mechanic » at the beginning but much more relaxed and friendly at the end. We appreciate it and thanked them for that.

The meal itself was of very good level. More « classic » and less creative of course than WD-50 but generally speaking, the dishes were working well : very good quality product, a great work is done on the tastes too. Except this truffle story, we experienced a very nice dinner and i would go back there for sure, and not only for their fantastic wine list.

That was our second and last meal in NY, moving the day after to Chicago and looking forward to Alinea.

Stay tuned.

Laurent

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