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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).

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

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  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.

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      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.

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        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.

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              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.