WD-50, NYC 4

December 1, 2008

On November 25, 2008, Linda and I returned to WD-50 with Chuck and Becky. We ordered the November tasting menu, but not the wine pairings. There were a few holdover dishes from our previous meal on my birthday in July, but most had changed. I think that the menu evolves one or two dishes at a time rather than having a complete seasonal mwdaakeover. I understand that the Eggs Benedict is now the only permanent dish.

We started with a bottle of 2006 Palmina “Honea Vineyard (Santa Ynez Valley) Arneis. I had never tried an Arneis from outside the Piemonte before and was pleasantly surprised by this California Central Coast version. The basket of thin sesame crisps was put on the table.

The first course was
Shrimp, pickled plum, rosemary butter, crispy shallots
 
The fresh shrimp was barely cooked and was enhanced by the subtle garnishes. The rosemary butter was encased in the round shell.

Second
Everything bagel, smoked salmon threads, crispy cream cheese
 
Welcome to the Lower East Side of New York City with lox and a bagel. Except that this bagel was made of ice cream with poppy seeds; the salmon is at the left with a cream cheese wafer. Well, it is a proven flavor combination, but it is the unexpected transfer of textures that makes this dish fun.

Third
Foie gras, passionfruit, chinese celery
 
Fruit is a traditional garnish for foie gras, but you cannot simply scatter some passion fruit on the plate as you could with figs or apple slices. Here the passion fruit coulis is encased in the cylindrical terrine and flows out for easy eating. I am a great fan of passion fruit and thought that its sweet and sour flavor and the contrasting vegetable freshness  of the granulated and the shredded Chinese celery were a good offset to the rich terrine.

With the foie gras we started on a delicious bottle of 2006 Domaine Georges Verney “Les Terrasses de l’Empereur” Condrieu. It had more fruit than the Arneis, which was needed at this point.

Fourth
Scallops, tendon, endive, parsley, hazelnut oil

The scallops were slow-poached sous-vide in hazelnut oil. They had the freshness of a raw scallop without the gooey texture. The poaching actually brought out the flavor. The beef tendon was both a foamy crisp and a flat piece that seemed more like a tendon. The parsley was concentrated in the sauce dab. Very good.

Fifth
Eggs benedict

This has become the signature dish of WD-50 and does not rotate off the menu. The egg yolks are slow cooked sous-vide. Encasing runny hollandaise sauce for frying in the cubes is a technological triumph. To top it off and add authenticity the breadcrumbs are made from Thomas English muffins, the right base for a regular Eggs Benedict. The Canadian bacon is thin and crisp. We were advised to include a bit of each ingredient in each forkfull; we did and it was delicious. Chuck said it was “fantastic.”

Sixth
Crab tail, soybean noodles, cinnamon dashi

We all thought that this dish was disappointing. The cinnamon aroma is nice, but it is somewhat unpleasantly bitter in flavor. There were popped lentils and edamames under the soy flour lasagna sheet.

We then started on a bottle of 2005 Thorne “Rio Vista Vineyard” (Santa Rita Hills) Pinot Noir. It was rich and a good match.

Seventh
Rabbit, wild rice polenta, cassis, kale black olive
The cylinder of rabbit sausage had a noticable rabbit flavor, but was the texture of a boudin blanc. The kale is in the dark square in the middle and had all the bitter characteristics of kale; they were offset by the sweetness of the black raspberries in the shards and the coulis. The mushy wild rice wasn’t successful, but the dish was very nice.

Eighth
Squab, butternut noodles, cream soda, carob

Excellent flavorful squab breasts had been cooked sous-vide which made them moist and delicious. As I enjoyed them, I kept wondering what Wylie does with the squab skins, which are usually the main point of squab. The gel on the lower left really did taste like cream soda, but the carob-amarinth balls had little taste.

Ninth
Ricotta, capers, frozen honey

This was announced as a pre-dessert, but it could also be considered to be a cheese course. It was superb.

Tenth
Jasmine custard, black tea, banana

We really liked this, but it was confusing as to which flavor was where. Chuck, who is not a banana fan, declared it to be “amazing.”

Eleventh
Carmelized brioche, gala apple, sage, brown butter

The brown butter ice cream was superb. Becky said that this was her favorite dish aesthetically with the stained glass like fruit on the gate.

Twelfth
Concord grape sorbet-black sesame

The grape sorbet balls and the chocolate leather were a fine end to the meal.

We had a very good time. We enjoyed parsing out the dishes and enjoying the flavor and texture combinations.

Our waiter, Mars, was terrific. He got us started with our Arneis right away and carefully watched over our wine progress. He cheerfully answered our questions on the cooking and offered further tidbits. This made a big difference. The noise level was not a problem at all; we were able to converse on the food and other topics.

Becky summed up our reactions: “Overall, I appreciated the creative tongue-in-cheek presentations of the food almost as much as the taste of the food. I’m still amazed at the inventiveness of the food from the eggs benedict to the rosemary butter encapsulation. For so many courses the meal was light and not overwhelming. Each course was a surprise and a delight, even though I expected to be surprised.”

http://www.wd-50.com/

To see our blogpost from July, 2008, click here.

For March 2007 click here.

To see Laurent’s recent blogpost click here.

5 Responses to “WD-50, NYC 4”

  1. Laurent V Says:

    Hello Michael,

    Great review, i’m impressed by the foie gras dish… very surprising.

    I had 6 of your courses, including the last 3 ones (fantastic desserts i agree).

    Looking to your pictures, i realize i would like to try it again, sooner than expected !

    Cheers
    Laurent

  2. bestbyfarr Says:

    Foie gras dish was nice, great restaurant. Thanks for the blog, Ryan

    http://bestbyfarr.wordpress.com

  3. ChuckEats Says:

    I ate there earlier this year (no review) and, while the savories were better than usual, the desserts stole the show. Not everyone would like WD-50, but I think everyone would like the desserts.

  4. Becky Coyne Says:

    Thank you again for a lovely evening. Great food, but by far, better company. love, Becky and Chuck

  5. Benj Says:

    Thank you so much for your extensive write-up and even more for your pictures! I went for the tasting menu (my first trip to wd~50) and wrote up commentary on my experience at http://bennj.livejournal.com/149166.html. Some of the dishes were shared, and seeing the pictures brought back some very nice memories.

    Yours,
    Benj


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