For my boyfriend's birthday, I surprised him with a celebratory dinner at WD~50. On the way there, I didn't want him know the direction we were traveling in. So we hopped in a cab, and I blindfolded him with my scarf. When we arrived, he couldn't believe his eyes. I think it was also because he got car sick, but it was worth it!
It was awesome seeing my friend, Reggie Soang, the Sous Chef, run the kitchen from the view at the Chef's Table. I was hoping to see Chef Sam Henderson in action as Chef de Cuisine, but I think she was off that night.
Let's dive right in. We chose the tasting menu - 13 items of which 4 were desserts. Instead of wine pairings, I opted for a bottle of Coteaux du Loir 'Eparses' Domaine de Bellivière 2010, a nice Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley to accompany our meal. Not sure I could have handle all those different alcohols in one sitting.
Course #1 - Oyster in its "Shell," Preserved Lemon, Snow Pea, and Hazelnut
The shell was edible, because it wasn't even an oyster shell. How cool is that? Made me think twice about it before I ate it. "How is this possible? Edible shell? An oyster shell is hard and definitely something that you can't eat." Well, I was fooled! This "shell" was delicious!
Course #2 - Egg Yolk-Mashed Potato Ravioli, Caviar, and Cucumber
I made sure to cover that potato ravioli with generous coats of caviar. What an artistic display. If this wasn't food, then it could definitely be a stand-alone art piece!
Course #3 - Avocado Pea Soup, Smoked Crab, and Pistachio
WIth these three great foods combined, the result is a refreshing soup with striking flavors. Don't be fooled by the crab - it was tender and juicy.
Course #4 - Charred Chicken Liver, Szechuan, Injera, Melon
Wow. Each course continued to impress us! The intricate design and arrangement of the ingredients in this one was aesthetically pleasing to both the eyes and the palate. For those of you wondering what injera is - it's an Ethiopian flatbread simliar to a crepe. It's in here somewhere! I think it's next to the melon in the back of the photo. I remembered it being crunchy and toasted like a chip.
Course #5 - Shrimp Grits with Pickled Jalapeno & Veal Brisket (for me)
Wish I could tell you how much my boyfriend enjoyed the grits. I didn't taste it since I'm allergic t shrimp. My dish was substituted for veal brisket. It was tasty, but I was distracted by the shrimp grits. It looked and smelled so good!
Course #6 - Bloodless Sausage, Smoked Marcona, Lily Bulb, Mushroom
We were told that the sausage is made from either rhubarb or beets (can't remember), and is vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. I'll eat anything I'm not allergic to, so it's win-win-win for me! I really enjoyed this dish. The sausage was light and chewy but not chewiness of the tough kind.
Course #7 - Black Bass, Parsnip, Pickled Ginger, Nori Mustard
Between courses 6-7, we started to get full, but that didn't stop us continuing our dinner! Seriously, the black bass was fantastic. Slightly larger than the size of nigiri sushi and it melts in your mouth.
Course #8 - Pork Collar, Poppy Seed, Red Bell Pepper, Tamarind
The pork was perfect. Two bites, too quick. I could have eaten another piece. That's what my gluttonous side thought.
Course #9 - Cured Duck Breast, Curds-N-Whey, Sweet Potato, and Rice Noodles
Another favorite of the evening! It wouldn't be complete with a fine tasting duck. The fried rice noodle added more texture, crunch, and beauty to this dish. Not only were we amused by presentation and how to eat it, we loved the rich flavors of the duck breast and delicate meat.
Time for dessert!
Courses 10-13 below with photos (click to enlarge).
- Oat Meringue, Banana, Strawberry Yeast
- Verbena Mousse, Rhubarb, Buckwheat, Camelina Oil
- Ovaltine Cake, Marcona Almond, Cardamom, Sheep's Milk
- Cookie Dough Ice Cream
And finally, a special mini birthday treat - popcorn ice cream cake.
Thanks to Pastry Chef Malcolm for preparing this!
I loved it. I loved it all. Chef Wylie Dufresne, you are an amazingly talented and creative man! My birthday surprise was a success.
With it's final season approaching fast WD~50 will be introducing a new tasting menu that it'll be serving until it's last day on November 30th. So sad, I know. I'm hoping to go back and try the new menu as well as the vault menu ( which features favorite dishes from past tasting menus). If you're not looking to indulge in the either of the tasting menus, you can always sit at the bar and enjoy any two dishes (even dessert) for $25. Quite the deal, I'd say.
Maybe WD~50 will open up somewhere else in the city one day, in a non-hostile, rent rising environment. I really hope so!
50 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002