I am stumped on this one. We have all read about WD-50. Wylie Dufresne is brilliant, taking food to another level, winning major awards, a must foodie place, etc. Lower East Side. So, after all, we all went.
Here is what I like. The service is fantastic. This is the only restaurant in NYC that when they brought our bottle of wine out with 5 glasses. One for each of the kids too which I couldn’t agree with more. How are they supposed to appreciate the enjoyment of food and wine at restaurants. It surely isn’t like they had 3 glasses. Anyway, the seating is really comfy. Big intimate booths. The restaurant has an industrial feel but hip at the same time. The kitchen is open to the restaurant in the back, very clean and simple. There is also a nice sized bar so if you happen to be in the area with out a reservation. The wine menu is extensive. There is a variety of ways to taste from singular options to tasting dinner and desserts. There has been much thought to every single thing.
But, let’s talk food. I just didn’t love it. None of us did. But I am not sure it is about that. Emily said it best. The chef obviously has a million things rumbling around his brain about what you can do with food and he is experimenting with it and we get to taste. She is absolutely right on the mark.
The girls split the popcorn soup which was a very rich corn soup that literally tasted like popcorn with hints of jicama, tamarind and a shrimp. Quite good. They also have the grilled octopus which a few of us had. The piece of the octopus was smooth, round and thick. Two pieces served over a whipped avocado cream and some lychee campari strands that were thick like octopus but textured like noodles. Very strange and not that good. Josh went with the corned duck that has been on the menu for years. Three round tastings of corned duck (think thin corned beef) swirled over a rye crisp and served with a purple mustard and a heavy horseradish cream. Hmmm.
We went on to the mains. I had the duck breast. 2 long slices of duck, no skin, served along side smoked hen o’ the woods mushrooms over a snow pea and pomegranate mixture. Fred went with the pork belly which I thought was the best thing we had. Square slices of pork belly served with a roasted sun choke and a really good chutney like concoction of ancho pineapple over a green caper emulsion. The pork belly was delicious. The girls each went with the turbot which was sort of over cooked and too dense but the sides were interesting. A cauliflower puree which was full of flavor and a thin chip of cauliflower chip on the side with barbecued lentils. The lentils were really interesting and flavorful. The last touch was persimmon which was soft like squash. Josh went with the lamb which was interesting too. Pieces of lamb served with potato noodles which were really weird texture and not that interesting in taste. There were also mustard crumbs and the dish was sitting in a pretzel consumme.
Ok, yes, yes, we did do dessert. Toasted coconut cake which was really rich dense and delicious along side a carob and pecan mixture with a brown butter sorbet. The cake was the best thing. We also went with the grapefruit custard which had elderflower and blueberry and basil on the side. That was given a resounding thumbs down and tasted like soap. Lastly we went with the milk chocolate mousse which was strange and had a peanut covering with goji berry and a whipped soy milk on the side.
Again, this is basically what I can recount from the meal looking at the menu. Nothing really made me want to go back. Perhaps the chef wasn’t in that evening. Interesting, yes. Scientific kitchen, no doubt. Would I rather have a dinner at Market Table? Absolutely. What can I say? I love good food but I am not quite ready for 2015.