It was more than a year ago that I announced my impending trip to wd~50 on my personal blog and got a load of comments from my mostly-Ohioan readership that mostly talked about how ridiculously small and not-at-all-like-real-food the dish in the picture I posted was. I was skeptical, too, to be honest, but it turned out that the meal was fantastic–really, really fantastic–surprising, playful, and memorable.
It must have overwhelmed me so much, though, that I failed to write about it, and my boyfriend has been bothering me about it ever since. Now that we have a January reservation to try the current tasting menu, I figured I owed it to him to at least post my photos from the evening. Here’s all I can remember from September 13th, 2008:
I started out the night with a peanut butter and jelly cocktail that was more peanut than peanut butter, but the bold flavor really prepared me for what was to come. We ordered one appetizer, two entrees, and the three-course dessert tasting menu, but the waiter brought us the five-course dessert tasting on the house. (Which makes this review entirely biased, naturally.)
Fried quail, banana tartar, peppercress
Sweetbreads, peanut, beet-pomegranate sauce, pickled sweet potato
Wagyu flat iron, coffee gnocchi, coconut, cipollini, sylvetta
Something foamy and possibly celery-y that I can’t recall
Grapefruit curd, pine nut, meringue, nasturtium ice cream
Jasmine custard, black tea, banana
Toasted coconut cake, carob, smoked cashew, brown butter sorbet
Yuzu ice cream, marcona almond, chocolate packets
The service was great, and the waiter didn’t mind repeating the word nasturtium for me about a hundred times until my boyfriend said he’d explain later. Like everyone else, we were impressed that chef Wylie Dufresne was actually in the kitchen, although my boyfriend happened to be directly in his line of sight and felt a little uncomfortable with the way Wylie was making eyes at him all night.
The decor was dark and simple, which made for a lovely contrast with the bright and complex food being served. Plus, there seemed to be a spotlight pointed directly at each table, which is why you basically never see a bad wd~50 photo.
I understand that looking at the menu alone, the dishes are a little intimidating, and the flavor combinations aren’t immediately complimentary (sweetbreads and beets?!). After my first meal there, though, I’m convinced that Wylie can do no wrong, and I’m excited to eat more ridiculous food (and less ridiculous ones, like the caramel apple) next month when we try the new tasting menu.
50 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002 (map)