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wd-50 menu recommendations

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I would love to read reviews of the current Wd-50 appetizer and "mains" items as I'm eating there next week with 2 foodies and 2 sceptics who are already talking about how they're not going to get enough to eat, it'll be too pretentious, etc.

What do you think of these appetizers?
1. Sunflower seed-miso soup; 2. Shrimp noodles; 3. Corned duck; 4. Eggs benedict; 5. hanger tartare; 6. Cuttlefish; 7. Aerated foie; 8. Smoked eel

These "mains"? 1. Arctic char; 2. Turbot; 3. Mediterannean bass; 4. Scallops; 5. Parsnip tart; 6. Duck breast; 7. Pork loin; 8. Lamb shoulder; or Wagyu skirt steak

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  1. I haven't been there in a while. However, if your friends are worried that they'll not have enough to eat, I guarantee you that they will indeed *not* have enough to eat.

    2 Replies
    1. re: shaogo

      Thanks for being so candid. Is your experience based on ordering from the appetizer and mains menu or from the tasting menu?

      1. re: jrwalsh

        Our experience is from apps and mains. Never did the tasting menu. I can't criticize the food nor the creativity behind it.

        What I *really* don't care for (and it's partially my fault) is that I just feel hopelessly un-hip when there. I've been to other hotspots and not gotten quite the vibe that I get there. However, I'm willing to give 'em another chance now that this post has brought WD-50 to my attention again.

    2. I adore WD-50, but this might not be the best place to take people who are worried about pretension and portion size. That said, their corned duck is a mainstay, and you can't go wrong with eggs at any place run by Wylie Dufresne.

      1 Reply
      1. re: a_and_w

        Excellent. This is just the kind of advice I need.

      2. I live around the corner from WD and make a habit of popping in when new menu items appear, so I'm pretty familiar with the current selection.

        Portion size is not HUGE, but contrary to popular belief it's not dainty either. The apps can be a little light, maybe. You won't leave stuffed to the gills but you'll leave satisfied, I'm sure.

        Also, I don't find it pretentious in the slightest. It's FUN, playful food. Anyone who's seen Wylie Dufresne interviewed will know he's one of the least pretentious chefs around.

        But on with the food...

        Apps:
        The corned duck is a mainstay on the menu, and a little tribute (or so I've always assumed) to Katz's Deli a few blocks away. But it's never really blown me away. The "Eggs Benedict" is a clever little deconstruction of its namesake. And I'm always fond of anything Wylie does with Foie Gras - you can't really go wrong there. It's often one of his big "wow factor" apps in terms of presentation. The last one looked like a pile of gravel, yet as soon as the fork touched it turned into buttery melting foie. The current one looks like... well, kind of like a sponge. Hard to describe, but definitely worth seeing - and, more importantly, tasting.

        The smoked eel is also very good. Eel is one of those ingredients he seems to have an affinity for. The tartare was nice - the meat itself maybe needed a touch of salt, but the backing flavors pulled it up a level when you got a nioce mix of them on your fork. But like I said, the apps can be a little small.

        There's one I wasn't terribly excited about - the cuttlefish had nice flavor but the presentation took away from it a bit. It looks neat - little cubes of cuttlefish and root beer gelee - but they're diced so small you don't really have anything to sink your teeth into, so it loses its toothsome quality.

        I haven't had the soup or the shrimp noodles yet - but by and large the soups he serves as apps have been very, very good. In fact, I can't remember one I haven't liked.

        Mains:
        First, I'd say avoid the turbot. It's not that it's bad or anything, it's just kind of... safe. I find Wylie is at his best with meats and shellfish.

        The duck is very good, perfectly cooked and salted and the accompaniments are all very bold and flavorful - and how often do you get parsley roots?

        The Lamb shoulder was also one of the better choices, and the lamb itself was one of the best pieces I've had in some time. The pine nut "baked beans" didn't do much for me, but then I'm not a big fan of baked beans to begin with.

        Wagyu skirt steak gives you one of WD's more oddball creations - peanut butter "noodles" - but flavor-wise it's a traditional East Asian pairing - beef, long beans, peanuts, tamarind. You get a decent amount of meat (especially for Wagyu) and it's prepared perfectly.

        Pork loin - fantastic. My current favorite. The loin is usually one of my least favorite cuts of pork - not enough fat, easily dries out. Here he sous-vides it (I'm guessing) to juicy perfection. The caraway mashed potatoes are served in deep-fried "balls" with crispy exteriors, a percect combination of textures. My only complaint would be I wish there were a little more of the coconut-mustard on the plate.

        Parsnip Tart - nice, but really just there for the occasional vegetarian diner.

        Sadly I haven't tried the current scallops yet, but often they're one of his better items, and one of the ingredients he's most playful with in terms of flavor pairings - so they're on my list for next time I go. I dearly miss the last version - with "spice bread consomme" and cranberry fruit roll-up (who'da thunk it?) - but I find that anything he does with scallops is worth a try.

        Of the remaing items - the Char and the Bass - I'd lean toward the char. For whatever reason I feel he has more of an affinity for red fish than white. And it comes with fried yucca, and anything fried is good.

        Anyway, that's just my opinion, for what it's worth. Just don't go in thinking "pretentious" - go in thinking "playful" and you should have a lot of fun.

        PS: Don't miss the cocktails! They're very clever and fit in with the whole theme.

        3 Replies
        1. re: sgordon

          You are so kind to be so thorough. I am eager to try some of your recs. May I beg another moment of your time? I'm strickly a dry red wine person. What cocktail would you rec to nudge me out away from that fixity...at least for one night?

          1. re: jrwalsh

            Well, there's a great wine list, so you don't HAVE to go for a cocktail, I guess. Sadly, their website doesn't list the cocktail menu so I'm not sure what's on there right now - there was a magnificent concoction of carbonated rye, lime peel and ginger for some time ("Son of a Preacher Man" I think it was called) - tart, not too sweet, delicious. Another recent one I can't remember the name of involved Jack Daniels - a spirit I NEVER drink, I'm a bourbon man, but the bartender recommended it - it tasted like the best banana bread you've ever had, without a drop of of anything "banana" in it.

            The drinks change as things come in and out of season though, so it'd be best to go with the bartender's recommendation. There's one bartender - Tona - who's turned me on to some great obscure wines as well, he really knows his stuff. The only thing I'd be wary of is that every now and then I'll find a drink a bit too sweet - so let them know you prefer something on the drier end of the scale.

            Have fun! Can't wait to hear how you liked it!

            1. re: sgordon

              everything was great...just one flaw, the manager. hate to say anything bad about this fine restaurant. We walked in the restaurant around 9 and was told to come back at 11 so we did, two of our friend wasn't here yet but coming, but the manager there told us that he can't sit us until everyone was here, then later inform us that the last call was 11:30 which was soon. I understand if they're doing do because they're busy, but we were the last ones there, and if we're ordering, we'll order for our friend that's coming as well, so I can't understand why he won't let us sit. Then at the end of the meal, he bought us a little treat then telling us he's doing us such a big favor (It's not my first time there, I had that last time on the house as well).

              as though that was enough, when we were signing the receipt just getting ready to go, the manager came to rush us to leave. what a douche.

              again, everything was great, the waiter who served us was super friendly, talking time in explaining every little detail, great showmanship, the food there was fun and whimsical. the only problem we had was the manager there...

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              WD-50
              50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

               
        2. I went here on a Saturday night for a birthday dinner. It was during the big snowstorm, so the place was empty - and therefore the waiters may have been a bit more attentive and friendly than usual, but I think the service was very good.

          We didn't do the tasting menu, which it seems like most people recommend. My girlfriend got the Eggs Benedict and I got the Hangar Tartare. She loved the Eggs Benedit (though thought the consistency of the jellied yolk to be gross - so much so that she only ate one of the three given to her). The hangar was very good, as were the Sweet Potatoes, the blast-frozen apples, the almond puree everything. Fantastic alone and fantastic together. However, the generous portion of cilantro was horrible. It completely overpowered everything else and so I avoided it. Just dreadful.

          In terms of the main courses, she got the Arctic Char which she felt tasted good, but she didn't like how it was presented basically sashimi.

          I had the venison which was amazing. One of the best dished I've had in the city. The best part of the dish, however wasn't even the venison. It was the fried polenta. " Wait, really? Polenta was the beset part of the dish? That's not a good thing." But it was. It was amazing. When the dish was set in front of me it's all I could smell. It was so good that we asked or a side of the polenta. It needs to be famous.

          I could have done without the fennel side, which was cold and had way too much sauce. And given luke-warm temperature the venison was served to us, the coldness of the fennel didn't have that contrast that may have been nice.

          The portions of both main courses were much larger than I'd expected. I didn't go hungry.

          The pastry chef there is very impressive. All of the dishes looked brilliant, and the profiteroles were by far our favorite of the three we ordered (gluttons!).

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          WD-50
          50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002