WD-50 – 50 Clinton Street – New York, NY
So while most of my eats in New York were of the on the go cheap eats type, I did sneak one solid sit-down meal in. I justified this by spending 48 hours in New York and using no transportation other than the cab to and from LGA, so walking 10 miles a day – I felt the binge eating we did was well deserved.
Rezzies at a place like Per Se, Le Bernadin, or Daniel were a bit hard to come by and I felt Eleven Madison Park was probably a bit pricey and had heard mixed reviews. So, being a fan of molecular gastronomy, WD-50 was the obvious choice. A long hike from midtown to the East Village landed us at Wylie Dufresne’s restaurant.
We had been eating pretty much nonstop for two days straight, so did the smart thing which was to go with the smaller “Vault Menu” as opposed to going with the full blown 12 course Tasting Menu.
The box of sesame flatbread in lieu of bread was a great way to start – perfect sesame flavor with a nice crispiness. The amuse above was a basil panisse with eggplant noodles underneath, a bit of deep eggplant flavor with an interesting textural twist to begin the meal.
So on to the heart of the meal. The first course out is a bison tartare topped with a Bernaise ice cream that offered a nice complement to the tartare, which had great flavor but was a bit chewier than usually steak tartare. The peppers added just a bit of heat, and the thinly sliced Asian pears were subtle but a nice topping.
After the winter we’ve had, the chestnut soup was a great dish. Deep, nutty flavor with the right amount of salt, and the celery, though a small amount, added a punch of celery taste that went perfectly with the chestnut.
I’m usually underwhelmed by cod, and this dish was no different – it wasn’t bad, it’s just hard to make cod really excellent – the fish was perfectly cooked with a soft texture and just a bit of flakiness, the saffron sauce added some great color and aesthetics to the dish.
The most interesting of the savory courses is the last one – a perfectly cooked rare slice of lamb loin, a bit fatty, but deeply flavorful. The goat cheese added to the richness of the meat which was muted only a bit by the barley. After the bulghur on the last dish, adding the barley seemed like an odd choice, but it worked well.
By far my favorite course of the evening, and with the exception of dessert at Alinea, that’s usually not the case during a tasting menu. The toasted coconut cake accompanied the coconut foam perfectly, the brown butter ice cream adding a nice temperature contrast. Wanted to lick the plate after this one.
And so we were sent on our way with an edible packet of chocolate sauce, a nice topping on a decent meal.
Was a bit disappointed in how straightforward the Vault menu was – it was good with some interesting ingredients, but overall lacked the variety and quirky techniques that I’ve experienced at some of other places in Chicago like Moto, Tru, and Alinea. (See my moto review - http://eatinginchicago2014.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/moto/) Perhaps it’s because it was the smaller menu, although it was kind of billed as a “greatest hits” type of deal, which I’m sure it’s not looking through some of the previous reviews of this place. Even so, it was a solid meal – well done, quality ingredients, interesting even without the liquid nitrogen and foams and powders, and for $90 it’s a pretty fair price for a meal this caliber in Manhattan. Depending on how often I’m hitting NYC in the future, I may swing by again, and next time, I’m going all out with the full tasting menu.