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What You’ve Read About The Wright is Wrong – American (New) – Upper East Side
October 12th, 2010 by plumpdumpling

I was secretly concerned about going to The Wright inside the Guggenheim Museum for my birthday this weekend. The menu looked classically delicious, and photos of the decor made it seem like a hip 1970s spaceship (it won the 2010 James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Restaurant Design), but the reviews were a little too so-so, and we’d been totally unimpressed by a similar museum restaurant a few weeks earlier. But, you know, I’m always happy to find out for myself how a restaurant rates.

Dr. Boyfriend and I decided to do the chef’s tasting with wine pairings, and right away The Wright scored points with me when our server asked if there was anything in particular on the menu that we wanted to make sure was in our tasting. Then she poured us each a glass of champagne, gave us a selection of breads with salted butter, and let us feast:

The Wright
blood orange gelee, cucumber, shrimp, marcona almond foam

As soon as our server put this down in front of me, I said, “Dessert!” Even now when I imagine these ingredients, I don’t think they should go together, and I certainly don’t think they should go together in an amuse bouche, but this was perfectly balanced. The gelatin and foam layers were sweet and smooth, while the middle layer of shrimp was more savory and segmented. The cucumber was the high note for me and was just the right addition to the dish, as it straddles the line between sweet and savory.

The Wright
Spanish octopus mosaic, potato, olive, tomato, lemon oil, basil pesto

If you know anything about me, you understand how funny it is that I was served this on my birthday. The only two things in the world I absolutely don’t eat are tomatoes and olives, and the thing I’m only just now learning to eat in my quest toward becoming an adult is seafood. So to see them all on one plate was horrifying/hilarious. And yet.

I was surprised at how tender and not-chewy the octopus was, but Kamran said, “That’s how it is when they do it right.” The acid from the lemon made all of the flavors so bright, but it also “cooked” the tomatoes so that they tasted more like a nice sauce than a fruity raw tomato. The earthy potato neutralized the bite of the olives so that they became a subtle background saltiness. Not a single component of the dish stuck out more than any other, and somehow, that made me actually enjoy eating them all.

The Wright
seared diver scallop, gently-cooked shrimp in chili oil, artichoke two ways, zucchini-wrapped goat cheese, red peppers

I’ve had scallops twice before, but this was the first time I understood why everyone’s always making them on every cooking show known to man. This intensely-seared scallop was salty, a little bit crispy on top and bottom, and so tender it was almost falling apart in the middle. I think I might actually be developing a thing for that specific scallop flavor that’s oceany without being fishy.

The sweet shrimp was equally as pleasing in its red chili sauce, the artichoke puree was so flavorful the drab color didn’t seem to fit it, and the coolness of the zucchini really contrasted with the sourness of the goat cheese. I probably don’t know enough about cooking to understand any fluidity between all of the items on the plate, but I get real joy from being presented with an array of flavors like this and making them work how I want them to.

The Wright
Maine lobster, matsutake mushrooms, arugula cloud

As soon as we saw the menu, I said, “I want that cloud,” and I got it. What was funny was that before this was presented, our server poured our wine and said, “I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but the next dish is very earthy.” And I was of course like, “TRUFFLES!” But it was freakin’ mushrooms. “Way to build up to nothing, lady,” I thought.

But actually, I really loved the puree with the lobster. Kamran called it “heavy-handed” and thought the amount of puree made it a borderline soup, but I’ll never mind having an abundance of sauce. The arugula foam was everything I like about arugula and none of the bitterness, so I didn’t think the actual greens were necessary, but maybe that’s the veggie-hatin’ kid in me coming out.

As for the lobster, I was totally scared at first by the way the claw meat looks like a claw, but dude, claw meat is way more delicious than tail meat. I understand that’s not how I’m supposed to feel, though. What gives?

The Wright
Kamran on fire

It was at this point that our first glass of champagne hit Kamran hard in the chest and gave him heartburn somethin’ awful. Apparently this happens to him with champagne all of the time, and the fact that I didn’t know it clearly means we’re not drinking nearly enough champagne together.

I said, “Ask our server if they have any antacid in the back,” and he did, and she said, “That would be a smart thing for a restaurant to have, huh?” and then disappeared for a while. We figured she was just pretending like she’d forgotten he’d asked, but a couple of minutes later, she emerged from the kitchen to tell him someone was running to get him some.

The Wright
antacid course

And then she presented us with an antacid course! We were so impressed by the restaurant going so far above and beyond for us so I could enjoy my birthday dinner. I’m tearing up a little now just thinking of it.

The Wright
roasted suckling pig, glazed quince, quince puree, mustard pig jus

This is the course I told our server I specifically wanted, and boooooooooy, was it the must-have dish of the night. The layer of skin on top was so caramelized-crunchy, the pork was so cooked-for-hours that it fell apart under my fork, and the quince was such a nice twist on the classic applesauce. It was like a sweet pig pie. Sweet. Pig. Pie.

The Wright
blood orange supremes, Greek yogurt sorbet

Our palate cleanser was good enough to be dessert course all its own thanks to the Greek yogurt. I’ve been eating Greek yogurt for dessert just about every night for the past many weeks, so it was neat to see what someone with actual cooking skills could do with it. This was like the sour frozen yogurt that got super-popular a couple of years back thanks to Pinkberry (and my favourite, 16 Handles), except more natural-tasting.

The Wright
Valrhona dark chocolate mousse, walnut caramel, concord grape ice cream

Ellie and I were just talking last week about how great concord-grape-flavored anything is, and then bam!, I get this dessert that used the grapes so well without automatically pairing them with peanut butter. The chocolate mousse was so decadent, and the chocolate glaze on top was in some sort of perma-melt state that left it shiny and gooey. There were tiny chunks of walnut brittle in the mousse to give it contrasting textures, and the bar of caramel might have been better than the ones the little old lady next door made for us every year for Halloween in Ohio. I just love the way a candied nut falls apart in your mouth.

The Wright
caramelized Bosc pears, puff pastry, Tahitian vanilla ice cream

I described this ice cream to Kamran as “why I say I love vanilla ice cream”. It was immensely vanilla-y and defied anyone who might use vanilla to mean boring. The pastry was architecturally tough and didn’t crumble under my spoon as I stole chunks of it off of Kamran’s plate, and the pears practically melted in my mouth.

The Wright
assorted birthday cookies just for me, because I am really special

I guess I’m not known for my subtlety, but I was still surprised to have this plate brought to me and remember that I mentioned it was my birthday in my reservation. Oops. But also yes! I loved that the kitchen put this together for me, and to finish the night by scooping up my own name in chocolate with a mango macaron was incredible.

Rating One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne-Half Star

The Wright is just right for people who consider themselves foodies, but I also think it’s a great fit for anyone who wants to get into fine dining but is intimidated by the formal decor and freaky ingredients. The bright, colorful room feels casual, and the service is friendly to match. The ingredients used by the chef are all high-end but not ostentatious, so there’s nothing to make new foodies squeamish, and the inventive combinations and expert preparations elevate each individual component beyond its humble beginnings.

The only complaint we had was that there was no wine with the dessert course, and that’s the wine we most look forward to. Still, this is the most affordable tasting we’ve had at $68, and I’ll assume most of the extra $42 for the wine pairings went into that champagne.

The Wright
Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10128 (map)


18 Responses  
  • Heesa Phadie writes:
    October 12th, 201011:49 amat

    WOW, WOW, WOW! I am utterly impressed. First off…happy birthday :P

    I can’t believe the caliber and quality (not that I can’t believe that they’d be that good), at that price. The Wright (from your write-up) sounds amazing. How would you place in with some of your top favs?

    It seemed a little heavy on the seafood, but I wouldn’t mind that myself. I’m glad you’re getting more into scallops….they’re my favorite.

    This place just seems so awesome…what with going out of their way to help Kamran…and with the Birthday Course. Every single part of this meal looks fantastic. How many courses total? 7? Did it fill you up? I probably would have liked a bit more veggies anf maybe some poultry…but dang, can’t complain about what ya got (expect no Port Wine with the chocolate :()

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      October 12th, 20102:23 pmat

      Well, Craft is my favourite meal of all time, and wd~50 easily gets 5 doughnuts, so I guess I’d put The Wright right under them. It’s on par with our meals at Craftbar or Kajitsu or Tocqueville (which we went to again a couple of weeks ago and had an even better meal that I haven’t had time to review yet).

      I would’ve definitely loved to have tried their sirloin with bone marrow marmalade, but I’d also hate to lose out on the experience of the scallop(!) and the lobster, so what can you do? Except go back another time, of course.

      So, there were 5 real courses, plus an amuse, a palate cleanser before dessert, and the birthday cookies. We were STUFFED (and a little drunk) by the time the cookies came around, but of course we plowed through them like champs.

      Definitely a great place and a GREAT value.

      • Heesa Phadie writes:
        October 12th, 20102:39 pmat

        I mean this in the nicest possible way. FU!

        I’m so jealous. I need to move to NYC for a year and just gain an absurd amount of food eating like Jeffrey Stiengarten morning, noon, night and midnight.

        • plumpdumpling writes:
          October 13th, 20107:56 pmat

          Do it! Just put aside $250k for an apartment and two meals a day. Go for dinner at places like Momofuku and The Modern that give you take-home gifts so you can eat those for breakfast every morning. Tooootally doable.

          Are you watching “Next Iron Chef”? How about Jeffrey not being there this season? Whenever I see him judging on shows like that, I always trust his technical arguments, but boy, is he an ass, personally.

  • Ells writes:
    October 12th, 201012:34 pmat

    I wanna go! I wanna go!

    I’m so proud of you for eating that octo-plate. And! Concord grapes! Nummers!

    Also, you can go back to Run Bitches Run. I think the coast is clear on the shadow nice-girl blog.

    xoxo

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      October 12th, 20102:28 pmat

      I have to stop writing reviews like this, because Kamran’s now rubbing it in my face how much I loooooove octopus and olives and crap. It’s awful. What am I if not a seafood- and olive-hater?

      I love the nice-girl blog! And you’re not even writing about running anymore. Give it up and commit to growing fat and Southern.

      • Ells writes:
        October 12th, 20106:10 pmat

        The nice girl blog’s so … blue though.

        • plumpdumpling writes:
          October 13th, 20107:59 pmat

          But it’s so sweet and southern, just. like. you.

          • Ells writes:
            October 14th, 201012:49 pmat

            Right. Yes. That’s me.

            I mean, its design isn’t quite as appropriately chipper as the eye melting neon of this site … but don’t you read blogs in reader anyway? You probably don’t even have to look at the blue blue blue.

  • Bachelor Girl writes:
    October 12th, 201011:08 pmat

    Now THIS is what people are talking about when they use the phrase “birthday feast.”

    Love the last photo. There’s really nothing better than your name written in chocolate, right?

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      October 13th, 20108:02 pmat

      Do you ever eat macarons? They’ve never interested me in the past, but now I totally get why they’re the new cupcake, and I feel like they’re something a southern belle such as yourself should be snacking on all day while sitting on her veranda.

      You do have a veranda, right?

  • Sammy Skye writes:
    October 13th, 20105:59 pmat

    oooh yum!!! i literally want to eat the octopus off the computer screen. the wright is now on my ever-growing list of restaurants i need to go to asap.

    in other news, love birthday perks. made reservations on opentable for my bday at gramercy tavern and made sure i wrote it was my birthday. they brought out at least 3 extra courses and every dessert in the joint. made me feel very important.

    so impressed they ran out to get the antacid. talk about customer service!!!! do you think they would do that for anyone? or just because they knew it was your birthday?

    happy belated birthday!!!!

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      October 13th, 20108:09 pmat

      The octopus?! Out of all of that, you want to eat the octopus?! I don’t comprehend.

      Anyway, I’m relieved that I’m apparently not the only one greedily mentioning my birthday. Doing it at Gramercy Tavern was GENIUS.

      The servers seemed friendly with everyone, but it could have just been the birthday thing. A server who didn’t even touch our table wished me a happy birthday as we were leaving, so it must have gotten out that I was lookin’ for special treatment. Oops!

  • You’ll Know That I Know That You Know I Know What Time It Is — Unapologetically Mundane writes:
    October 14th, 201012:02 pmat

    […] Cornelia Marie on it, and a box of chocolates from Derry Church after reading a review of them. And the best dinner! Swoon! […]

  • Dishy writes:
    October 16th, 20106:43 pmat

    OKAY. COOLEST THING EVER that Dr. BF is wearing a Ramones shirt with a jacket to a fancy restaurant. That alone speaks volumes. Check & check.

    Everything about this meal sings bday extravagnaza (Very Happy BDay BTW)~!

    I love scallops more than any other seafood, and agree that claw meat is way better than tail. The green foam looks a bit scary, but sans bitterness I think I’d even like that. TOO cool that personalized greeting AND antacid! All in all, a perfect way to mark a very special occasion. Here’s to another fab year!

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      January 12th, 20113:36 pmat

      Aww, I forgot about this comment until I linked the post to someone today! It’s so funny you noticed what shirt Kamran’s wearing, and though it’d embarrass him to know I told you, I think he was pretty proud of himself for it. Now if only I could get him to wear the John Deere shirt my dad bought for him.

      • Dishy writes:
        January 12th, 20119:15 pmat

        How could I miss a Ramones t shirt at a fancy restaurant! Cooler than a tux. My grandfather worked as an engineer for John Deere most of his career (back when people actually had a career w/ a single firm…) – Tell Kamran to get that shirt on STAT!

  • donuts4dinner.com» Blog Archive » The Modern at MoMA – American (New)/French – Midtown West writes:
    January 7th, 201112:05 pmat

    […] flavor into their dishes. There’s really something special about eating inside a museum, but The Wright at the Guggenheim is a better bet for your […]


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