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WD-50?

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Keep meaning to try this restaurant, in town for one dinner, is it the one? If you disagree make a recommendation. Interesting menu, not touristy and no Masa price tag.

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  1. It's divisive. I loved it, many on the board don't. I found it to be interesting, exciting food with a few outstanding dishes in a atmosphere more fun and laid back than most of the tasting menu destinations. I got the tasting menu with the wine tasting and thought both were fabulous.

    It may not be the one quintessential one-night-in-New-York dinner, but I think it's worth trying. You'll either love it or hate it.

    You can do a search for more opinions about it.

    1. It fits your criteria:
      Interesting menu -- http://www.wd-50.com/menu.php
      Most go for the tasting menu $105 pp
      Not touristy -- no, not in the traditional sense. the only out-of-towners who go are foodies.
      No Masa price tag -- it's about 1/4-1/3 of the Masa price

      Wylie Dufresne is one of the most innovative chefs in the country right now. He's in the newly evolving 'molecular gastronomy' movement made famous by Ferran Adria of El Bulli (though there are lots of differences). If you are open to experimental food with interesting presentation and texture, give it a try. If you don't like your food 'weird' go someplace more traditional. Good reports of Gilt (very fancy, formal, good cooking) or 11 Madison Park (new chef Daniel Humm, good food, modern clean interior) or many many other choices.

      1. WD50 is like eating in a chemistry lab. There's a "wow you can do that with food?" vibe. Interesting, perhaps, but not very satisfying. There are tons of better restaurants.

        1 Reply
        1. re: xavier

          like?

        2. Tasting Room is always my top choice. Excellent, fresh, flavorful. No chemistry experiments.

          Other only-stop-in-town spots include: Babbo (ok, you will see some tourists), Annisa, L'Impero, The Modern. All are as good and all are in the same price range as WD-50.

          9 Replies
          1. re: xavier

            thank you for your recommendations. I think we might try The tasting Room, Annisa or Salt. We are back in August for 2 more nights so we can fit them in there. The Modern is in the the new MOMA? I'd heard the service wasn't great and the room wasn't intimate, true?

            1. re: hamahoney

              Sort of surprised you are willing to swap out WD-50 for the Tasting Room. They're not really in the same level, nothing against the Tasting Room which is ok. Wouldn't be my choice, but I guess different strokes.

              http://www.wd-50.com/images2.html

              1. re: dippedberry

                I agree, and Salt is not in the same league. Personally, I like WD-50 better than Annisa too.

                1. re: dippedberry

                  I'll go along with this assessment, as well. WD-50 is unusual, but it's not so foreign that less-ambitious diners will find it challenging. There's quite a bit of variety on the menu, and they've really toned down the quirky stuff since they opened-- we wrote about it in November. It would certainly be on my list of places to go if I didn't live here.

                  Nosher

                  NYCnosh: http://nycnosh.com

                  1. re: dippedberry

                    I agree with xavier. I've always found the Tasting Room to be excellent with a great American wine list. Not sure how their new much larger location is going to change things though.

                    WD-50 is a little weird. I agree it's inventive. I loved their shrimp couscous (made from shrimp not served with it!). But I tend to like only 50% of what I eat there. Some of the mish-mashes of flavors are just unpalatable. I know it sounds crass but I tend to expect that I'll like all the food when I pay $100 for it (before tax, tip and liqour). That said it's fun to try once and there won't be a tourist in sight.

                    1. re: shane

                      Ummm, we're tourists and can't wait for Sunday! :P

                  2. re: hamahoney

                    I also love Salt.

                    1. re: hamahoney

                      I must agree with dippedberry's reaction. I am a diehard wd-50 fan - but I understand that it is a bit inventive. At the end of the day wd-50 is about delivering great food and wonderfully complex flavors. Be adventurous - give it a try.

                      1. re: hamahoney

                        Salt is good but not nearly on the same level as say WD~50. It's also very tight quarters with mostly communal tables.

                        Annisa is one of the most overrated restaurants in the city. Though the kabocha squash dessert I had there was very good. The room is insultingly drab/boring.

                        Haven't tried The Tasting Room...yet.

                        The Modern has some interesting food. But it is not at all intimate. I think the Modern is best as a business lunch.

                        All that being said, WD~50 is a good choice.

                    2. I am almost embarrassed to admit I've never been to WD-50. Does anyone know if they would accomodate one person without reservations? Is there a bar where one could eat?

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: guttergourmet

                        There is a 6 or so person bar and many people eat there - I've gone for dessert and drinks before (love the manchego cheesecake - Sam Mason is a genius) and there's always someone doing a tasting menu at the bar.

                        1. re: lambretta76

                          Sam Mason is a genius!

                        2. re: guttergourmet

                          From their website:
                          "What is the wait time for walk-ins?
                          You can always call ahead on the evening you wish to dine and speak with our host, who will let you know how busy we are. We have two walk-in tables in the bar area and a counter. We also encourage people to dine at the bar where we serve the full menu."

                          7 seats at the counter

                          1. re: guttergourmet

                            I've eaten there by myself...but with a reservation. You can earn bonus Open Table points if you go/book early. No eating at the bar.

                          2. Just a caution on those walk-in tables... They're not particularly comfortable, especially if you're planning on taking your time with the tasting menu. I ate at the walk-in table this past winter and got my buns toasted by the combination chair/heater.

                            1. I highly recommend sitting at the bar if you're alone or even with one other person--lots of fun.

                              1. My wife and I went there for the tasting menu on Friday night, and I have to admit I went in there with some hesitation after reading recent reviews. After leaving, even with dinner for two, as well as two cocktails and two glasses of wine topping out at $330 after tax and tip, I'd have to say that it was one of the best meals of my life and I didn't feel cheated at all. I'll write up a review later, but everything we had was mostly fantastic (except a couple of the desserts, which were merely very good, which had been somewhat of a disappointing way to end the evening). All in all, though, 10 of 13 courses being "relevatory" or "exceptional", with the remaining three being very good (I would have loved them out of context) is a pretty good batting average in my book. Service was fantastic and it's the only kitchen I've seen in New York where the chef's aren't running around like crazy. (They also seemed to be smiling and laughing, something I've never experienced during the dinner service rush ever.) Perhaps happy chefs make happy food? (And perhaps Sam Mason was sulking in the pastry kitchen somewhere.)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: lambretta76

                                  I doubt Sam Mason was sulking. And he certainly wasn't in the kitchen at WD~50, not with Tailor getting ready to open soon. The new pastry chef is the former Alinea (Chicago) pastry chef.

                                2. Funny. I had the tasting menu on Friday night as well - we've had the menu before and gave the chef and kitchen license to try new things out on us instead of going through the "greatest hits." All said, it was a pretty satisfying meal.

                                  The highlight was probably a spaghetti-like dish of thin strips of zucchini and squid, with a little sour cream or creme fraiche on the bowl. This dish was absolutely perfect. It was light, fresh, tasty, a cool texture play and a real joy to eat. I'd have a big bowl of it if i could. I might try to make it at home tonight.

                                  The other standout dish was a sous-vide poached egg in the swiss cheese consomme (the one that the pork belly comes in) with some smoked paprika. Again, absolutely perfect combination of flavors and textures.

                                  Wines were paired very nicely as well.

                                  All said, well done and I'll come back in another 6 months to see what's up in the kitchen.

                                  1. thank you everyone who wrote. We finally went and it was amazing. The 2 of us made our own tasting menu, we really ate too much food. The kitchen actually came out and thanked us for our enthusiasm! Dufresne is truly creative and fresh. The way he pairs flavors and textures...amazing. We enjoyed every bite, especially the foie gras with the watermelon and the foie gras flavored powder.
                                    It's like having dinner at the home of someone who both loves food and is incredibly creative.
                                    Thank you again for all the positive comments!!!!

                                    1. Greetings from Portland, land of hazelnuts, mushrooms, dungeness, and wild salmon. Love the way this place sounds.

                                      Question: We are eating there x-mas eve. Being from flannel-land we are not sure what the prevailing dress will be?
                                      And please don't say "business casual". That could mean anything.

                                      Thank you all for your comments! =)

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Leonardo

                                        It's completely casual. Jeans, etc, are fine.

                                        1. re: Leonardo

                                          Well, I wouldn't wear flannel. :-)
                                          Seriously, it's the lower east side, so it's cool and casual, in that order. By which I mean, most people won't be wearing a suit or even a tie (usually someone will be, however), but if they're wearing jeans and a t-shirt, they're most likely jeans and a t-shirt that cost more than most suits. Completely casual New York is not the same as completely casual in most places. Completely casual when I lived in California meanbt people wearing flipflops and baseball caps. I'd dress up rather than down--shoes (not sneakers), pants/dress/skirt (not jeans), no sweatshirts, no hats--especially since it's xmas eve. It should be a great meal, so why not make it feel all that much more special by dressing up.