Dinner @ wd-50
I don't normally do "blog" entries for normal stuff that I do in the US, but I decided to make an exception in this case. I happened to be in New Jersey for a business trip and decided to route my flight home through JFK so that I could stay a night in the city and have dinner at a very specific restaurant. This restaurant is WD-50, which is a Lower East Side landmark for modernist cooking and (according to the NY Times), one of the most influential restaurants in the world. Tom and I were planning to go here for dinner in December when we were up for Christmas, but Wylie Dufresne, the chef and owner, announced they are closing in November due to a "real estate thing" .. the owner of the building is planning to put up a new building on the site and hence, the restaurant is closing.
The restaurant focuses on molecular gastronomy, which is a discipline of food science that looks at the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur during cooking. There are some interesting techniques and tools used, such as liquid nitrogen and carbon dioxide (for flash freezing and foaming, respectively) as well as things like Maltodextrin that can be used to turn a high-fat liquid into a powder.
So ... since Tom wasn't with me, I invited his sister (who will remain name-less and picture-less at her request, although you can find her fingers in a couple pictures). It is a small, intimate little restaurant just South of Houston Street.
Our dinner reservations were 9:30pm (yes, that late ... but that was all that was available and I was determined to eat here). We arrived a bit early and so we had a drink at the bar. My sister-in-law ordered the Pea Shooter (which she said was really good, a cocktail with vodka, sweet pea, and Chartreuse) and I started with a Freyeisen Apfelwein (apple cider).
They started us with a box of sesame flatbread, which we munched on throughout the meal.
We did the Tasting Menu (so his newer creations) but skipped the wine pairing. They require everyone at the table to do the same menu (there are basically two menus ... this tasting menu and a smaller tasting menu made up of items from older menus) which is for timing of the plates. However, they were accomodating for allergies and things that we wouldn't eat. Neither of us do liver (the 4th course) and she asked for something other than "raw seafood" (so the oyster in the first course and the caviar in the 2nd).
Oyster in its "shell", preserved lemon, snow pea, hazelnut. The "shell" is in quotes because it is an edible shell made of something else. My sister-in-law's dish included beets, a sesame nibble, and a mousse.
Next course, Egg yolk-mashed potato ravioli, caviar, and cucumber. They look the same, but mine had the caviar (right) while my sister-in-law (who also didn't really do caviar) had something else on the side which looks the same but was not.
Avacado-pea soup, smoked crab, pistachio.
This course was supposed to be charred chicken liver, although neither of us really do liver, so they brought us fried feta cheese balls with pickled parsnip ribbons on top of a fig mousse. This was my 2nd favorite dish, so I was quite glad that I didn't eat liver!
Shrimp grits, pickled jalapeno. This was my favorite course and the interesting part of this is that there are no grits here. I believe she said that they do something with the shrimp, like maybe freeze-drying it, then getting it into the shape/size of grits, and then re-constitute the shrimp.
Bloodless (vegetarian) sausage, smoked marcona, shaved lily bulbs, and mushrooms. Probably my least-favorite due to the sausage although the lily bulbs were quite interesting.
Black bass, parsnip, pickled ginger, nori mustard. The bass is still with the skinn, and then the parsnip is the parsnip mousse on the right. Then the little darker yellow dots are the nori mustard. The pickled ginger is actually a pickled ginger jerkey ribbon, which is the dark brown ribbon going through the middle.
Milk breaised pork collar, sunchoke, black sesame, kaffir. The black sesame is the paste on the bottom, the small green dot is the kaffir (lime).
Cured duck breast, curds-n-whey, sweet potato, rice noodles. The "curds" is the white and the "whey" is the clear soup/broth in the bottom (not really curds and whey I don't believe. The sweet potato is the orange thin slices and the rice noodles is actually the deep-fried brown ribbon that runs across the top. Probably the best duck I've ever had.
This is the start of the desserts and she called this the pallet cleanser, although it was much more of a dessert for me than a pallet cleanser. Verbena mousse, strawberry, buckwheat, camelina oil. The camelina oil is the easy part to see and it contained shaved, pepper-sized fresh vanilla. The strawberry is the red disk, and underneath (if you can see in the 2nd picture) is the verbena mouse on top of a buckwheat "disk".
Apple tart, pomegranate, sorrel, pistachio. The apple tart is the easy part, small and rectangular. The sorrel is the green sorbet, toppped by a pomegranate sheet. The pomegranate also is "painted" on the plate, then accompanied with seedless grapes and pistachios.
Ovaltine cake, marcona almond, cardamom, sheeps milk. The cake is easy to see. Inside the chocolate tube is a cardamom ice cream although I'm not sure if the sheep's milk is part of the ice cream or the white sauce under the cake.
And finally, cookie dough ice cream inside these little tiny packages.
We were almost the last people there, since our reservations were at 10pm. They kitchen had closed and the chef/owner (Wylie Dufresne) had come out and was relaxing at the bar. We stopped by and he was very nice and took pictures with me!
VERY Very wonderful evening ... great food ... great company with my sister-in-law! We plan on going to his other restaurant, Adler, in December instead.