HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >

Discussion

Top Chef-ism.. and the restaurants they visited

I will preface this question by explaining that I keep strictly Kosher and so would never be able to visit these restaurants. I am also a mega, mega top chef fan.

Last night, they visited David Burke Townhouse and WD-50 (2 others as well, but no so curious about them). The food looks amazing, but seems to have concepts that I am extremely unfamiliar with.. I am sure that due to their TopChef fame, these restaurants are now packed and inundated with reservation inquiries... So.. Can someone please tell me - is the food REALLY that good? Or is it just the name people go for? (I suspect some will say its a mixture of the two, but I want to know if the food is really, genuinely amazing).

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

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. wd 50 is amazing. that is the only one i went to.
    http://teenchefteddy.blogspot.com/

    1. I haven't been to David Burke's restaurant, but have been to WD-50. Personally, I'm not really a fan of WD-50. If you visit the Manhattan board, you'll find that it's a very divisive restaurant among Chowhounders.

      I have been to Marea and thought it was wonderful. That uni lardo on crostini they showed is really delicious. I would have never thought to put those two ingredients together -- but they really work. They recently won the James Beard award for new restaurant. So I surmise it's been packed before their Top Chef fame. Them being on Top Chef will probably make it just that much more difficult to procure reservations. I haven't been to Ma Peche (but have been to his other places). But it seems that I must make a visit one day.

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

      Marea
      240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

      Ma Peche
      15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

      1. WD-50 has been around for a number of years and is usually crowded but not overwhelmingly difficult to procure reservations. The typical reactions to it are either very positive or very negative. Personally, I like it and think its very tasty and innovative.

        David Burke Townhouse I've never been too but did go under its previous incarnation davidburke and donatella. I found the food to be quite average. Whatever was unique and creative about David Burke is now so ubiquitous (cheesecake lollipops, angry lobster, etc) that it comes across as "eh". Sort of an all style, no substance type restaurant based on my small sample size there.

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

        1. I love WD50 personally. I am probably even more of a fan of Alex Stupak's desserts compared to the savoury side of things. Now that people know that he's leaving, it may be a bit more trouble to get a reso there but I would definitely try to go before he's gone.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

            Went with a coworker after work last Thursday, no reservations, got there at around 6:15 and had zero wait at the bar where the full menu is served. All night there were seats open, definitely a viable option if you can't get a reservation. Wasn't blown away by the food, though.

            1. re: diearzte2

              To be completely honest, this is kind of a silly question...I understand your perspective being Kosher though. However, if you're a Top Chef fanatic, one should know that they don't really associate with bad restaurants, chefs, provisions, etc...

              As far as WD-50 goes, the long and short of the place is this; it is, without a doubt, one of the most progressive, and elite kitchens in the USA...and for this reason it will continue to be a divisive spot to chow down. I will offer this to critics of Wylie and his food...if your complaint has anything to do with presentation, perceived small portions, or thinking the way he cooks is "silly," then you're likely just a well-moneyed, imagination-less person who has no appreciation for whimsy or outside-the-box thought processes.

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

              1. re: BellyBomb

                Yes- I know TC does not associate with bad restaurants, but everyhting is objective. I wonder if TC chooses places based on them being up and coming (eg. david burkes townhouse) rather than being amazingly good.. hence my question :) sometimes being kosher and not being able to try this stuff myself is a major drag!

                1. re: marissaj

                  "I wonder if TC chooses places based on them being up and coming (eg. david burkes townhouse) "
                  ~~~~~~~
                  Townhouse has been open since 2003 (it was redesigned a couple of years ago)...it's hardly "up & coming." Marea has been open for about a year and a half, and WD-50 for over 7 years. Ma Peche is the only new one - it opened this past April - but David Chang is already such a rock star in NYC's restaurant scene that his new place was grandfathered through "up-and-coming" status and went straight to "established."

                  oh, and one of the best things about CH is living vicariously through fellow Hounds' culinary experiences when we can't enjoy them ourselves!

          2. I don't think it's that they're that good, I think it's that their chefs have distinct -- VERY distinct -- points of view. Remember also that Top Chef flew David Chang to Singapore for the final of the last Top Chef, and Wylie Dufresne was on Top Chef Masters. "That good" is almost incidental in this context.

            1. Absolutely love wd-50. I ate at Per Se last week and wd-50 the week before. While Per Se was wonderful, wd-50 is the one that we repeatedly discuss at home and go "Wow, remember how great that was?!"

              -----
              Per Se
              10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

              1. "I am sure that due to their TopChef fame, these restaurants are now packed and inundated with reservation inquiries"
                ~~~~~~~
                the locations were chosen because of their existing/established reputations - you'd be hard pressed to find many New Yorkers who are into food and *don't* know anything about these particular restaurants or the chefs. it's not likely that anyone in the city who hasn't been to one of them yet is going to run out and try it now just because they saw it on last night's episode...though in this economy, when even the best and most popular places can't fill their tables, i'm sure they wouldn't mind an upswing in business ;)

                5 Replies
                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Thanks! It is so weird to me to think there is a whole food world I cant indulge in; and more than slightly disappointing ;)

                  1. re: marissaj

                    i hear you! Celiac disease + soy intolerance = waaay too much food-related disappointment/denial in my life :)

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      While dining out, I spend a lot of time telling my dining companions that they have to try a certain appetizer/pasta dish/something else that's full of gluten because someone on Chowhound said it was great, and I obviously can't partake.

                      1. re: whitneybee

                        i recently did that at Scarpetta here in LA. a friend & i had dinner there with my folks when they were in town for a visit, and i made all three of them try Scott Conant's famous spaghetti for me. the problem was that none of them have a palate liek mine, so when i asked about the flavor, none of them could give me a satisfactorily detailed (i.e. Chowhound-worthy) description! :(

                        -----
                        Scarpetta
                        355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                    2. re: marissaj

                      Well, you *can*. You just choose not to, in much the same way that I choose not to eat mammals or birds. So I indulge in a lot of vicarious eating, as goodhealthgourmet notes upthread. Still, the porkophilia that has gripped Manhattan for what seems like forever cannot end soon enough for me.

                  2. Ma Peche is one of my favorite restaurants (going tomorrow for dinner). Food is delicious and creative. Service is very friendly and professional. I was thrilled to see Ma Peche last night on Top Chef!

                    -----
                    Ma Peche
                    15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: ellenost

                      Hi Ellen - would you rate it higher than ko?

                      1. re: Scotty100

                        I love them both equally. Had a fabulous dinner at Ma Peche tonight: new baby shrimp and cucumber slices appetizer in a wonderful broth that was very refreshing. Also had the crab that was among the freshest I've ever had with a calamansi dipping sauce. New cod main course and a trio of veggies: brussel sprouts, carrots and cabbage with beef tongue. I received a gift from the chef: ricotta gnocchi with black truffles and chives--brilliant!

                        I have a reservation for Ko for Monday that I know will be equally wonderful. The shaved frozen foie gras and the soft cooked egg with onion subise and caviar are classics. I think Ko put the delicious duck breast back on the menu.

                        1. re: ellenost

                          Mmm...been 2 years since I've been at Ko and I need to return but first I think I will try ma peche. Sounds great!

                          1. re: Scotty100

                            Last night was another brilliant dinner at Ko! Everything was creative and delicious. Service, as always, was professional and friendly. Favorite dishes: sweet ebi; cavatelli; scallop in clam chowder; toasted brioche, bone marrow and cippolini onions in gruyere broth; duck; calamansi sorbet; carmelized apple cake with oatmeal ice cream; and, of course, my usual favorites: soft cooked egg with hackleback caviar, onion soubise and mini potato chips; and the shaved frozen foie gras with lychee, pinenut brittle and riesling gelee.

                            For those who have not yet dined at Ko, please expect to enjoy a 2 hour dinner or a 3 hour lunch.

                            I've lost count as to the number of times that I've dined at Ko (probably about 30), but with food and service still among the best in NYC, I look forward to my next 30 visits; I know I won't be disappointed.

                    2. In my experience (and I am a line cook at 3 Michelin star restaurant in the city):

                      WD-50 is very, very good, and very, very interesting, but lacks a lot of "wow!" moments

                      Marea is phenomenal. The fusilli with red-wine braised octopus and bone marrow is the single best dish I've had in the past year.

                      I would only go to a David Burke restaurant if someone else was paying.

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

                      Marea
                      240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: dafunk

                        I would agree...I equate David Burke to Todd English...same level. Very average. And while the townhouse is a nice room, the food is very average and comes across as gimmicky rather than "creative". I was surprised he was on that episode last night. He's not in the same league as the others.

                      2. Having visited all four of the featured restaurants I can attest that they are all high quality restaurants and that they were chosen not only because of how amazing they are but their very distinct points of view.

                        WD-50 is a very interesting restaurant that has fun with its dishes but always remembers that there is no point in any of the techniques unless the food tastes great. This is a surprisingly affordable restaurant and I have often been able to get a reservation same day. My only complaint is that they don't have the best wine list.

                        Marea is wonderful and the quality and execution is perfection. If you can't afford Le Bernardin but want to see what high end fish should be like, go here.

                        David Burke Townhouse is a wonderful restaurant. I found it amusing that TC portrayed the food as being out there and might scare off a few people. The food is thoughtful and done in such a way that it makes perfect sense but it completely original, but not off-putting or strange.

                        Ma Peche had great ideas, but when we went the execution wasn't quite there yet. This was over the summer, so hopefully they have worked through those kinks.

                        They were great picks and I hope this feature helps their business and encourages people to try new things.

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

                        Le Bernardin
                        155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

                        Marea
                        240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                        Ma Peche
                        15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: scharron

                          Ditto about the wine list at wd-50. We stuck to cocktails and finished with a glass of a good rosé. I wonder what their corkage fee is... Would be a nice place to take your own bottle.

                          I also like Ma Peche quite a bit. Haven't been lately, but I thought it was really very good and very different from the rest of Chang's empire.

                          -----
                          Ma Peche
                          15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

                        2. oh hell yeah, marea is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC. actually, it IS my most beloved. i went there yesterday for my birthday.