Mar 26, 2006


My favorite restaurant of all time is WD-50. The restaurant is aptly named because it makes people think of WD-40 which has nothing to do with food and is slightly offputting to the appetite. I say aptly named because what you get at WD-50 is not your typical fare and that is why I like it so much. It's not for everyone. I can think of a few friends who would enjoy it but most wouldn't. The chef, Wylie Dufresne, can spend upwards of months figuring out how to make a particular dish. Many of the chefs in the city go to WD-50 to get new ideas. His name pops up often in the New York Times Dining section. The kitchen, open view, is immaculate. And the service is that perfect combination of being attentive while avoiding being stuffy. The only way to eat at WD-50 is the tasting menu where you get to sample a little of everything.

I wouldn't say I love every dish I've eaten there. Some are downright questionable. But if you enjoy the amazing experiences your tastebuds can give you, you'll never be disappointed. I always feel thankful after each course.

Here's a sampling of what was on the menu this weekend.

Rabbit sausage, deep fried porcini, kumquat, tarragon sauce. Quite a simple dish and not all that weird for WD-50. The fried porcini was wild.

Carrot - Coconut ("Sunnyside up"). My wife has a dislike of runny eggs (I'm English so I love them) and this one didn't agree with her at all. It looks like an egg but the white base is a coconut concoction and the 'yolk' is a carrot puree. What I couldn't figure out is how he encased the puree into something almost identical to an egg yolk.

Foie gras, candied olives, freeze-dried green peas, beet juice. One of his signature dishes. You need to cut open the foie gras pate to find the candied olives and beet juice. Candied olives, as you can imagine, are a trip.

Beef tongue, fried mayonnaise, tomato molasses. His signature dish. I've heard it took him months to figure out how to make deep fried mayonnaise. It has to be frozen into cubes and then cooked for a specific amount of time at a specific temperature. Beef tongue for those who haven't tried it is probably the most intense tasting piece of meat I've ever had.

Shrimp Cannelloni, shiso leaf, chorizo & thai basil sauce. The cannelloni is all shrimp. The outside is flattened and then boiled gently and used as a wrapper for the rest of the shrimp. Shiso leaves are a nice touch here. They have an incredible taste. I've never seen them in the stores; only in umeboshi plums from Japanese markets.

Miso soup, sesame/tofu noodles, shiitake mushrooms. This one was nothing special except you get to make the noodles by squeezing them out of a tube. Kind of cute.

Langoustine, freeze dried banana, deep fried celery root, mustard greens, banana mustard. The mustard, some kind of whole grain mustard mixed with banana puree, was amazing. I'm sure easy to make as well. Freeze dried banana goes well with langoustine believe it or not.

Duck breast, parsnip ricotta, spaghetti squash, black vinegar. The key component of this dish was the black vinegar. It's made from black asian vinegar and black squid ink.

Tangerine sorbet, baby basil, olive oil, salt. For some reason olive oil and salt go extremely well with ice cream. I've had something similar before at Otto (Mario Batali's restaurant).

Manchego cheese cake, manchego cracker, foamed pineapple, pear, thyme. Best cheese cake I've ever had. The combination of pineapple, cheesecake and thyme worked extremely well.

Squash sorbet, pumpkin seed cake, chocolate soil, mole. Not as impressive as I thought it would be but good. The sorbet was made with pumpkin. At least it tasted like pumpkin. I was expecting something more radical like butternut.

And to finish off we had a small jelly made of red bell peppers (no picture). It didn't work at all but like I said I'm always glad I have tried things like this. And then Marcona almonds, chocolate, curry. Yummy. Try it out if you're in New York City.

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