a WD-50 review, in all its peculiar glory
i have had some excellent meals recently, certainly review-worthy, but have been fairly busy and have neglected posting. my meal at wd-50 last night was so curious that i felt i'd be doing a chowhound disservice not to share and discuss.
we arrived at 830 promptly for our 830 reservation. our table was not ready, we were seated at the bar to have a drink. boyfriend ordered a glass of red, i had a dirty hendricks martini which the bartender whipped up flawlessly. 845 rolled around, i could see boyfriend glancing at his watch, beginning to become impatient (this was a sunday night, mind you.) 855 rolls around, the maitre'd stops by to apologize for the wait and tell us our drinks are on him. table should be ready soon. after one additional apology about ten minutes later, we are finally, at around 915, a tad disgruntled but very hungry and appeased by our recent apologies, seated.
waiter promptly brings over an additional apology for our wait: some tasty sparkling rose. this too is certainly appreciated. we elect against doing the tasting menu, and i dont know if the extras we received were due to the waitstaff making amends for our 45 minute wait or if the extras were with everyone, but there were certainly plenty included a la carte that i cant imagine having gone for the tasting.
first they brought out the everything bagel ice cream with strange yet tasty slightly aerated, chopped looking, smoked salmon. the ice cream bagel is strange indeed, but the saltiness of the poppy seed and sesame seed on the icecream bagel manages to balance out somehow. it was not extraordinary, but it was certainly thought provoking.... what you will see turned out to be the theme of the meal really.
next came our two appetizers: the lamb belly and the eggs benedict. the deconstructed eggs benedict, known to be one of WD's signatures, was really a winner of the evening. the yolk doesnt cloy, and the hollaindaise that surprisingly oozes out of the croquette type concoction is seamless. the textures and flavors meld perfectly. the lamb belly didnt meld together nearly the same way...it required a lot more focus...what are the flavors here? somethings not coming together and i can't put my finger on it. i didnt know whether to focus more on the odd flavor combinations or texture combinations. i never reconciled the two.
next we had an order of the aerated foie...we had planned to share just one before moving on, but they brought a plate out for each of us to have our own. i am a foie lover at all times, and rarely pass it up on menus. while i enjoyed this incarnation, i found the focus on smoothing the texture of the foie to compromise the meaty richness that makes foie so delightful and decadent. i felt it had been so whipped (aerated apparently) that the texture had been reduced to something a bit too much like temptee cream cheese and the bold flavours slightly dulled down as well.
our next bonus was the cold fried chicken from the tasting menu with ricotta, hot sauce and caviar. i was intitially put off by the very conspicuously raw appearance of the chicken, but was pleasantly surprised by my first bite and enjoyed the contrast of the salty caviar with the pungent tabasco.
for his main, boyfriend ordered the halibut with chinese mushrooms and some sort of white brothy consomme i believe was said to have sausage in it, but i dont recall a sausage flavor jumping out at me upon trying it. this was a visually simple, yet very aesthetically pleasing dish and one with just enough flavor to make you savor your bite, without making you overthink it like much of the menu. this was certainly one of the stand outs of the night. for my main, i got the appetizer portion of the shrimp noodles with zucchini, mushroom, and chammomile yogurt. this was good, and interesting because the noodles were actually made out of shrimp, but it was not terribly nuanced. perhaps this was my fault for ordering something that may not have been one of the more ambitious options on the menu. that being said, it was enjoyable, but not extraordinary.
a pre-dessert of vanilla icecream with some sort of slightly cloying jelly pocket inside was brought around next... there was a crumble around the icecream ball, however, which redeemed the unnecessarily syrupy insides. it was something i didnt feel compelled to finish.
for our desserts: bf chose the cornbread pudding, which he was happy with, but i did not try, and i went with the hazelnut tart with coconut, chocolate and chicory. this was a rich, good, satisfying nutty and well-thought out end to my meal.
because we certainly received a number of free bonuses throughout, we wound up getting an impressive amount of food for the total amount of our check. if we had elected to do the tasting menu and had spent 350-400 ourselves, i don't think i would have left as happy as i did last night. i enjoy thinking about my food, but i don't want to just enjoy thinking about it...i want to savor exquisite flavors as well. wd-50 managed to strike the balance on some of the dishes we had, but certainly not on all of them.
i'd be very curious to hear what other peoples recent experiences at wd-50 have been as well...