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wd-50 - any recent reports, ideally from those who've been to other modernist spots.

Coming to New York at month's end and trying to firm up dining plans.

To anyone who has been recently, how is wd-50 - both savories and sweets - these days? Still novel or kind of losing its edge? I've heard mixed things.

Second, to those who've been to Alinea, moto, The Bazaar, Volt, ink, schwa, or other places using varying degrees of molecular technique how does wd-50 stand up? It clearly has the "looks" but does it have the taste? Does the experience justify a $200 price tag after tax and tip?

http://endoedibles.com

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  1. I have done Alinea, Moto, Schwa, and WD-50 from your list. The flavors and presentation at WD-50 exceeded those at Moto (though I have only been to Moto once and it might have been just an off night). Alinea and Schwa are two of my favorite restaurants, and the price of the former is substantially higher than WD-50, so I wouldn't think it a fair comparison. But I don't think it holds up.

    If "recently" means 8 months ago, I would offer the following: I enjoy WD-50 on its own merits; think it stands up well to other restaurants in its price-range, and generally offers fun (and sometimes still exciting) food, that tastes pretty darn good. I found the desserts particularly exciting during my last visit, and soon-to-be-mrsnmprisons, who is a pastry cook, concurred.

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

    1. Dufresne has always been experimental on two fronts - both with techniques and presentation, but also with flavor pairings. So it differs from the some of the others in that sense, where the chef might have a particular flavor profile, just gussying it up with interesting techniques. Wylie takes from the city of New York - everything from diner food to Italian to Chinese to Korean, often overlapping in one dish.

      As with any place of their ilk (or of any ilk I suppose), some dishes work better than others. There always seems to be one dish on the menu that maybe shouldn't have left the laboratory. But there've also been some of the most memorable dishes of my life - his "ham & cheese on rye" (braised then seared pork belly with rye spaetzle in a swiss cheese consomme) is sorely missed, and his scallops with spice bread consomme (so he's big on consommes) and cranberry fruit leather I can still taste in my mind, some two years after it left the menu.

      Of the current menu, for the most part the apps are more adventuresome than the mains, at least in terms of the gimmickry (for lack of a better term - I don't mean that derogatorily) - I think he realizes that when it's entree time, most people doing a three-courser want a nice hearty plate of food. He doesn't dumb it down - there's still interesting, unexpected things going on, especially in the accoutrements than surround the main protein - but said main protein will usually be prepared pretty straightforwardly. Your lamb chops won't be dehydrated and reconstituted with chamomile tea or anything.

      Those doing the tasting menu will get more of what you expect, a parade of smaller bites showcasing fun culinary ideas. I'm guessing based on your $200 price tag that the TM is what you'd be doing.

      Does it have "the taste" - ? Everyone's flavor profile is different. Dufresne's will either speak to you or it won't. I mean, Daniel Boulud's food doesn't speak to ME.

      As to desserts: Malcolm Livingston is doing great, IMHO. I mean, he had some tough shoes to fill, following someone who some considered the best pastry chef in the country, but he'd worked as Stupak's sous for some time, and he's very much on the same page - not afraid to use savory herbs and vegetables, and very deft at balancing them. I think he's awesome.

      Also, the cocktails are smashing. Jafrul & Tona, the two mixologists, totally own it. They're just as playful with technique and flavor as their cohorts in the kitchen.

      Comparing them to Alinea or Moto, I'm not sure it quite works. Those restaurants do tasting menus only, and at this point, only ONE tasting menu each. In some ways it's easier for them to make it work, since every person walking through the door is having the exact same thing. Also, the price point of Alinea is much higher - for the cost of dinner, you could have the tasting menu at WD... and come back the next night for a regular three (maybe even four) course a la carte meal, too.

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

      2 Replies
        1. re: kathryn

          Well, that would explain why I haven't seen him behind the bar in awhile!

      1. Well stated by you both - thanks.

        I personally was uninspired by moto and found the rest of the ones I mentioned to vary between good (volt/ink/The Bazaar as all were Voltaggio) and outsanding (Alinea and schwa.)

        In regard to the $200, I was indeed thinking the tasting, though perhaps a few courses and then the dessert tasting would be a better call.

        http://endoedibles.com

        11 Replies
        1. re: uhockey

          My preferred meal at WD is two apps, entree, dessert - though I'm satisfied belly-wise with a regular three as well. I just want to try more stuff, usually.

          I'm not generally a big fan of tasting menus, at least not when I've a dining companion. Just not as exciting to me if everyone is getting the same dishes. Were I dining alone, I'd consider a TM though.

          1. re: uhockey

            Looking at the current menus, the tasting doesn't appeal much to me. Thus, my preference would be to go a la carte along the lines sgordon suggests: a main and two apps for each of us + the 5-course dessert tasting.

            For the "eggs-centric" person that you are, I see "Eggs Benedict" on the a la carte. But, then, there's the Poached Egg on the tasting. If you want that, maybe they'd be willing to serve it to you a la carte.

            http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

            1. re: RGR

              Sounds entirely do-able to me. Gives more variety and choice, plus different folks can order different things. In all reality the desserts there matter most to me anyhow and I guess the tasting could always change between now and then (admittedly the current one does not do much for me.)

              http://endoedibles.com

              1. re: uhockey

                "Liquid churro, bitter cocoa, chilies, meyer lemon"

                That does something for me :-)

                1. re: uhockey

                  LOL! All those desserts sound great to me!

                  I find it interesting that this is one of those occasions when the tasting menu does not pull its dishes from the regular menu. Normally, I like that idea. But in this case, the regular menu holds far more appeal to me.

                  http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                  1. re: RGR

                    I believe Chef Dufresne uses the tasting more as a staging ground for new dishes. Eventually if they pass muster they end up on the regular menu.

                2. re: RGR

                  Two apps plus main plus five desserts would probably do me in. I'd be tapping out well before the mignardaises arrived...

                  I've never done the dessert tasting, but I was under the impression it was full desserts for each course - I could be wrong though, they might be scaled down a little, or incorporate a couple of the smaller desserts from the regular tasting menu with a couple of full ones from the ALC.

                  They're pretty good about taking dishes from the tasting and getting them to you ALC, and vice versa - making tasting-sized portions of ALC items if one of them strikes your fancy in lieu of one of the pre-set options, or you can add a course - IIRC, they'll add a tasting-size portion of any dish from the main menu for $14. Last year a group of friends and I went - we did the 2/1/1 thing, so we had lots of food coming already, but I wanted them all to try the "Everything Bagel" - the kitchen was happy to send out a round for the table. Granted, I'm a semi-regular and some of the staff know me at this point, but I think they'd have done it for anyone.

                  And about two years ago, Ulterior Epicure - who appears to have no job, unlimited money, and a ridiculously fast metabolism - did a "full a la carte menu" tasting with a friend: http://ulteriorepicure.com/2010/06/17... - more than I could handle in one night, I think!

                  uhockey - are you dining solo or do you have people(s) with you?

                  1. re: sgordon

                    Okay, first off I chuckled at the UE comment as he is quite forthcoming about his job (and who he ate with) on his site. Personally I really enjoy his site, though I've not had the chance to meet him. RGR has had the opportunity to dine with him and I've had the chance to dine with RGR multiple times - she and ellenost will be joining me at wd50.

                    Regarding portions - my gestalt is that I could eat the wd-50 tasting menu and add a number of courses. I don't know that I'm "proud" of my capacity, but I can eat as is indicated in the blog (back to back tastings at EMP and Corton, Charlie Trotter's and TRU, Les Nomades and Next......I'll just stop now.) A friend and I also cashed the entire menu at ink. in Los Angeles. FWIW, I'm rather sure I could split the whole ALC and a tasting with someone and leave (poorer, fatter, but alright.)

                    I'll be fine with a few apps, main, and dessert tasting. The good thing about New York is that if I'm still hungry I can always go for more (the Baked Alaska at DBGB has caught my eye.)

                    I'm definitely looking forward to wd50, just want to make sure my money (and my companions) would not be better served by a return visit to Corton. :-)

                    http://endoedibles.com

                    1. re: sgordon

                      "...Ulterior Epicure - who appears to have no job, unlimited money, and a ridiculously fast metabolism....

                      LOL! LOL! LOL!

                      I will say this. uhockey can eat him under the proverbial table. Mr. R. will be at WD-50 as well, so there will be four of us at the table.

                      http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                      1. re: RGR

                        To be fair, uhockey is about twice my height. :)

                        I have been to wd~50 thrice in the course of the past six years, twice in the last two. My last meal there was about a year ago, in May. Have you never been, uhockey? That sort of surprises me.

                        I think wd~50, like Corton or Gagnaire, is a gamble. When you hit it on a good night, as I did on my second meal (the epic one mentioned above), it can be truly extraordinary. Otherwise, you might leave scratching your head a bit.

                        Dufresne's version of "molecular gastronomy" is a bit different, I think, from some of his peers' versions. Whereas Achatz (I've been to alinea thrice) and, to some extent, Cantu (I've been to moto once), approach it from the standpoint of eliciting emotion, I think Dufresne is more concerned with flavor combinations, and morphing forms. I hesitate to go too much further down this line of thought until I've given it some more time in my grey matter.

                        I have not been to ink or VOLT (but that will soon change). But I have been to Bazaar, and have had José Andres's food in multiple settings. From what I can tell, he comes dangerously close to xeroxing Ferran Adria's food.

                        You asked about schwa. I've been twice, once before Carlson's "hiatus," and once after he reopened. In my opinion, it doesn't belong in this discussion for many reasons.

                        But restaurants like l'Arnsbourg, The Fat Duck, elBulli, and el Cellar can Roca do belong in this discussion. Having been to all four, I can safely say that I'd rather eat at any one of those restaurants than at wd~50. For me, those are the best exemplars of this school of cooking, because they most clearly and most effectively convey a philosophy, namely, that what we call "molecular gastronomy" is, above all, a way of thinking, not a way of cooking (see what I wrote in my blog post about Next elBulli.)

                        So, is a tasting menu at wd~50 worth $200? Probably. I can't guarantee you'll walk away doing backflips (it makes me sad that you missed the Stupak days; his desserts were killer). But, considering it as an investment on your "culinary education" as a diner, I think it's a fair exchange. Even though I can't say I LOVE wd~50, I do think it's one of those "essential" restaurants, especially if you're someone who is particularly keen on the molecular set.

                        You've been to Corton, right?

                        1. re: ulterior epicure

                          We went - this is an old thread - I went with RGR, Ellenost, and Mr. R. Overall I agree with everything you say above and while the savories were good the desserts that Malcom Livingston III is putting out are outrageous.

                          Since this time I've also been to El Bulli at Next, EL Ideas, and Atelier in Ottawa - all clearly fancying the concepts of "mg" and overall I enjoyed my meal at WD-50 as much or more than all except EL Ideas which I truly do feel is one of the best experiences currently in Chicago.

                          As to Corton - I've been - I need to go back - I should have gone back on my March trip.

                          I'll be interested on your thoughts on VOLT as I wasn't terribly "wowed." I'll be going to minibar and Rogue24 in May so it will be interesting to see how they compare. I'd also be curious about your comments on Schwa and why it doesn't belong in the discussion.

                          http://endoedibles.com

                3. I'm new to the NY dining scene but was just at WD-50 last week so this may be helpful. Had the tasting menu and it was fortunately more hits than misses (though barely). Food aside, it was a fun place to eat.

                  http://www.smilinglioneats.com/2012/0...

                  32 Replies
                    1. re: ellenost

                      I thought the main courses (monkfish, quail and lamb) were very good, some of the desserts (the menthol and ginger ice cream and the peanut and milk chocolate) also. Felt that the appetizers (especially the bagel, falafel, and rock shrimp/yuzu) were somewhat gimmicky.

                      1. re: Smilinglion

                        Well, to be fair part of their concept is tongue-in-cheek and "gimmickry" so I don't find the bagel or foie-lafel to be that offensive.

                        All things being equal I'll probably just go with a few apps, a main or two, and the dessert tasting.

                        http://endoedibles.com

                        1. re: Smilinglion

                          Thanks for the insights and excellent photos, though.

                          http://endoedibles.com

                          1. re: Smilinglion

                            Smilinglion, Thanks for linking to your excellent, detailed review and superb photos! Very helpful as Mr. R. and I will be dining there with uhockey and ellenost towards the end of the month. I was already inclined towards going the a la carte route -- as uhockey said, a couple of apps, a main, and the dessert tasting -- and your report has convinced me.

                            Welcome to NYC and to the Manhattan board. I hope to see a lot more of your reports here. :)

                            http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                            1. re: RGR

                              I prefer the a la carte menu too. I'm having trouble deciding among 3 appetizers (corned duck; eggs Benedict; aerated foie), 2 main courses (smoked char; duck), and 2 desserts (soft meringue; liquid churro). Wish they would create a tasting menu from my picks. Probably won't do the dessert tasting menu since the chef picks.

                              1. re: ellenost

                                All these dishes sound fantastic! I wish we knew about it before we ate there. All in all we had a good time (love the vibe), though we're still more classical eaters than big fans of molecular cuisine.

                                1. re: ellenost

                                  Pretty sure it is required by all, though I can't tell.

                                  Also pretty sure if you didn't want something specific they could leave it out.

                                  As to 3 apps, 2 mains, dessert tasting.....I could see that. :-) Duck/Chicken/Foie, Duck/Lamb. Also interested in that Poached Egg in a shell.

                                  http://endoedibles.com

                                  1. re: uhockey

                                    Just kidding about creating a Tasting Menu since it would be required for everyone at the table; only trying to show how many good-sounding dishes on the menu. The egg dish also sounds good. Maybe I'll get 2 desserts when you get the Dessert Tasting; are you thinking about the 3 or 5 desserts?

                                    1. re: ellenost

                                      Sorry to butt into the conversation, but I'd also recommend the Cold Fried Chicken from the app section. It was my favorite dish when I ate at wd-50 a couple of months ago.

                                      1. re: Cheeryvisage

                                        Thanks Cheeryvisage! Now my choice among apps get even harder!

                                          1. re: Cheeryvisage

                                            I mentioned the chicken above. I've had on good word it is the best dish on the menu and has been for some time.

                                            http://endoedibles.com

                                            1. re: uhockey

                                              lol, just wanted to make sure Ellen tries the Cold Fried Chicken. If it were me, I'd want all of it for myself and not share. :)

                                              1. re: Cheeryvisage

                                                Sounds like I'm now going with (almost) RGR's menu: cold fried chicken and aerated foie gras for apps; duck for main course; and 2 desserts (meringue and liquid churro). I know RGR and uhockey want the tasting dessert menu, but I'll be happy with 2 desserts :-).

                                                1. re: ellenost

                                                  So basically we'll all be ordering the same thing. I'll just be ordering more.

                                                  http://endoedibles.com

                                                    1. re: ellenost

                                                      Duck pastrami, asking about the egg in shell, dessert tasting for sure.

                                                      http://endoedibles.com

                                                      1. re: uhockey

                                                        I'm also interested in the duck pastrami and the egg in shell dishes; I didn't want to create an imbalance at the table if I was ordering more dishes than everyone else.

                                                        1. re: ellenost

                                                          Maybe Wylie can plate a few dishes "family style" for you guys... ;)

                                                          1. re: sgordon

                                                            That would be wonderful! This way the entire table would be able to try different dishes without worrying about getting too full. Of course, that's never been one of my problems.

                                                            1. re: ellenost

                                                              ...and yet you are anti dessert tasting? ::confused::

                                                              http://endoedibles.com

                                                              1. re: uhockey

                                                                I don't think I want all of the desserts; right now only 2 are "wowing" me. I'm sure they're all delicious.

                                                            1. re: uhockey

                                                              I was thinking about that egg. Normally, I'm not an egg person, but sgordon's description made it sound delicious. So, if you and ellenost are going to do three appetizers, I'll go along and add the egg. And I'm certain Mr. R. would have no objection to doing the same.

                                                              I think the idea of dishes "for the table" is a good one.

                                                              For sure, I'll never out order you, but I'm going to try to keep up. :))

                                                              http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                              1. re: RGR

                                                                Gosh, I hope WD-50 doesn't make any changes to the menu otherwise we'll have to figure out a new plan.

                                                                  1. re: RGR

                                                                    Meh - change is fine. There isn't anything on the menu I'd not eat - some things just sound better than others.

                                                                    http://endoedibles.com

                                            2. re: ellenost

                                              I think you know the answer to that. ;-)

                                              I'll e-mail them to inquire whether the tasting is required for all.

                                              EDIT: They don't have an e-mail addy. I guess calling would work.

                                              http://endoedibles.com

                                              1. re: uhockey

                                                I believe their website asks that the entire table participate in the Tasting Menu. I'm sure I'll be "fine" with 2 apps, 1 main, and 2 desserts ;-). My problem is deciding on which 2 apps and which main. Any recommendations from those who've been to WD-50 would be greatly appreciated.

                                                1. re: ellenost

                                                  I'm not having much difficulty deciding. So as not to lose my Foie Gras Queen status, I'm having the aerated foie gras as one of my apps. For the other, the cold fried chicken. For my main, the duck breast. Dessert: the 5-course tasting.

                                                  uhockey, We should order whichever dessert is not included "for the table."

                                                  I have no idea what Mr. R. plans to do with regard to course selections. He's not as obsessed with this sort of thing as we are, i.e., planning way in advance what he will choose. I doubt he's even looked at the menu yet.

                                                  http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                  1. re: ellenost

                                                    Of the two "classic" apps that'll likely never leave the menu - the duck pastrami & the eggs benedict - I'm more of an Eggs Benny fan. I find it both tastier (but then I'm a big fan of regular eggs benedict) and more fun. The duck pastrami is good, his little twist on the flavors of Katz's, but... the Benedict is fun AND decadent. The texture of the yolk is almost like fudge, and, y'know, "deep-fried Hollandaise Sauce" just tells you all you need to know.

                                                    That said, the duck pastrami has been on the menu as long as I can remember - it could be I'm just a bit burnt on it.

                                                    The Aerated Foie is another one that's been on there awhile - he always has one foie gras prep, though it used to change about once a year. This one he's stuck with for awhile. I'm more of a hot seared foie guy personally, but WD's foie preps, even though he does cold, are always pretty great. One of those ingredients he just seems to have an affinity for.

                                                    I think, especially given that you guys are doing an "extended" meal, the kitchen would probably (but don't quote me on it) be cool incorporating a dish or two from the tasting menu for you. Like, if two of you wanted foie gras, they might sub the "foie-lafel" for the aerated on one for you. Or you could "pair" the eggs benny with the poached-in-a-shell for an egg course.

                                                    I find with Wylie's cooking there are a couple of rules I go with - bigger flavored proteins - mammals, duck, shellfish - tend to be the more exciting entrees, while white fish I've found, for the most part, to be "safer" in terms of flavor pairings. But there are always exceptions - the Cod with Nori from last year was fantastic, so go figure. I also find that anything Wylie does with octopus I love, yet anything I've had there with cuttlefish or squid I've been kinda "meh" on.

                                                    Anyway... assuming you're all sharers, I'm sure you'll all get to try lots of different things. Were I to walk in tonight... well, when you put the words "pork" and "cheek" together it's a done deal for me, let alone adding "Iberico" to the mix. So I know what ONE of my apps would be...

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

                                  2. I'll write in my long winded way sometime, but for now all I can do is sit back and be wowed.

                                    The room is good - soft and nice, a bit loud at times but not LOUD. They played Kid A from start to finish and that alone made me smile.

                                    The Fountain of Youth is a cocktail I can love. :-)

                                    The food, on the whole, was all very good and some of it great.

                                    Our server, Andrew R, and the team in the kitchen including Malcolm Livingston II and the others were all friendly, accomidating, and pleasant.

                                    ......and aside from the fact that they require ALL persons to order the dessert tasting, no ifs/ands/buts (policy is policy,) I can only say Malcolm is running on genius mode right now. I've not had better desserts in the US in at least a couple of years and the only people I can even think of doing something as imperssive as him are Jordan Kahn, Juan Contreras, and Kamel Guechida - and though it may be the "new" effect of it, I think Malcolm may be the most wowing of the four. 1 pre-dessert, 5 regular desserts, plus mignardises and all I can think is that I want to go back tomorrow to try the ones I missed.

                                    And I might...

                                    http://endoedibles.com

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

                                    1. Having put off going to WD-50 fearing science experiments on the plate, I was shockingly surprised at how accessible the food was and how much I liked it.

                                      The pillows of Aerated Foie Gras were light and airy with wonderful foie flavor. This Foie Gras Queen couldn't have been more pleased. The delicious Sweet Potato Soup was given an extra dimension with the addition of lime, and the complex scallop ravioli were incredible. I tasted Mr. R.'s Corned Duck. Great flavor immeasurably enhanced by the mustard and horseradish cream. I also sampled a piece of his Cold Fried Chicken. Very tasty.

                                      My main course Duck was quite tender, the red cabbage (which I think had onions mixed in) was like a slaw, and the consomme was surprisingly spicy though not unpleasantly so. Two minor complaints: (a) the duck skin seemed to thave started out crispy but that was lost because of the consomme, and (b) cutting meat in a bowl is awkward. But I guess these two issues can't be avoided given the consomme element. I tasted Mr. R.'s Wagyu. Superb! And the black-eyed peas accompaniment was outstanding! I also had a taste of uhockey's pork main. I know he loved it, but it wasn't my thing. I also tasted ellenost's Smoked Char. Though it had a pleasant smoky flavor, I'm not a fan of Arctic char.

                                      I swooned over the first three desserts on the Tasting Menu, as well as the mango pre-dessert. (Note to uhockey: Unless I'm missing it, No. 3 is not listed on the menu. Do you know what it is?) No. 4 was the Chocolate & Beets. I adore beets and while I'm not the biggest fan of chocolate desserts, this combination worked very nicely, and I loved the Ricotta Ice Cream. However, as they went along, the dessert portions increased in size. So, by the time we got to No. 5, I was beginning to feel a bit full. The Root Beer Float turned out to be a gargantuan mound. Looking at it, I couldn't help thinking of the Devil's Tower in N. Dakota. Not very visually appealing to me. Though I've never had a root beer float, I do like root beer. But I didn't care much for this dessert. So, after eating a small portion, I turned the rest over to uhockey who, after having consumed his own, had no problem polishing it off.

                                      As uhockey has said, Andrew provided service that couldn't have been warmer or more attentive. His evident joy in what he is doing was infectious. As we were finishing up, the manager, who had come to the table to apologize for the rule about the tasting menu, came back to invite us to visit the kitchen, described the various stations, and encouraged us to take photos. Wylie Dufresne was not in last night, but Chef de Cuisine Jon Bignelli did a masterful job. And he's a really nice guy! Pastry Chef Malcom Livingston II was there to accept our well-deserved high praise.

                                      A delicious meal shared with wonderful friends. Mr. R. and I will definitely be back.

                                      WD-50 photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                      http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

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

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: RGR

                                        Great report and as usual great pics!

                                        We too had put off going to WD-50, expecting molecular gimmicks versus serious food. Well, I have to say that I concur with you. We really enjoyed our evening here and would return frequently if we lived nearby.

                                        J and I along with another couple had a great evening at WD-50 this past Saturday. We all had the tasting menu as we wanted full immersion into all things Wylie.

                                        Highlights were the Everything bagel, Foie-lafel, Poached Egg, Lamb loin and Menthol dessert. Midlights were the majority of other courses and the lowlight was the Milk Chocolate dessert (a disappointing way to end a stellar evening).

                                        The highlights were great adaptations of favorites. The surprise preparation of the bagel, the light airiness of the foie, the edible cracked egg shell, the pine nut "red beans and rice" served with the lamb and the refreshing yet sublime menthol dessert.

                                        The midlights were all excellent preparations of each course, using top quality ingredients with a deft touch. I guess I expected a bit more unique combinations or preparations and instead found each course to be very accessible and straightforward. Perfect in many ways.

                                        The lowlight Milk chocolate dessert was simply disappointing. The plate was composed of a circular dollop of creamy milk chocolate flanked by a spooned portion of plantain gelato and small discs of soy(?) cookies. The chocolate tasted more milky than chocolate, the gelato and soy were both rather plain so the end result was a plate that I wish were something else.

                                        The Rice krispy treats that followed with the arrival of the check quickly made up for the milk chocolate. The treats were excellent.

                                        Service throughout was outstanding and pacing for the 11 course meal was perfect. Substitution requests of Crab for the Foie and Wagyu beef for the Lamb were graciously accommodated for J and gave us a chance to sample a bit more from the menu.

                                        After desserts, we were given a brief tour of the kitchen and had a quick chat and pic with Chef Dufresne. He was very gracious and personable yet fully engaged in the details of the evening. Really great to see. We wish more of the greats would stick to one or two kitchens vrs the empire building and inevitable diluting of their passion/brand.

                                        We compared our evening at WD-50 with the chef's table tasting menu we enjoyed at elements in Princeton. Both evenings were to remember and if I were to choose one to return to, it would be WD-50 to experience more of the menu.

                                        After dinner, we stopped by The NoMad for a nightcap and to check out the space for an upcoming dinner. Loved it and look forward to dining there very soon.

                                        1. re: Foody4life

                                          Thanks for the compliments, Foody4life! :) Excellent report on your part. Glad you enjoyed it.

                                          Interesting that you compared it to elements. The first time we dined at elements, we ordered from the a la carte menu. The second time, we did the Chef's Table. I have never thought of the food there as being molecular in nature. I consider Scott Anderson's style to be uniquely his own, i.e., can't be pigeon-holed. We're going back at the beginning May to do the Chef's Table again.

                                          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                          1. re: RGR

                                            thanks RGR. My comparison of WD-50 to elements was less about the molecular nature but more along the line of using unique ingredients especially high end / difficult to source proteins, unique pairings, artistic plating with a willingness and desire to be outside the box. The result is a great success for some (me included) and disdain from others (those who typically prefer more traditional portions and plating). Chef Anderson can be polarizing to a degree but we're very glad he's doing what he's doing.

                                            Prior to going to WD-50 we had the disdain perspective. We were happily wrong.

                                            1. re: Foody4life

                                              Gotcha! I'm a little bit of a picky eater, i.e., certain foods I don't like and won't eat. When we did the Chef's Table, we weren't asked about avoids (not a problem for Mr. R. and our dining companion, both of whom eat everything). A few of the dishes Scott served us did contain things I avoid. This time around, I'm thinking of contacting them to provide a short list in advance. Hopefully, that will make for a better experience for me.

                                              http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                          2. re: Foody4life

                                            We must have been close to you, Foody4life!

                                            My husband and I had a grand time. We had 4 appetizers, 1 entree and 3 desserts, which was about perfect.

                                            From the start, the service was really excellent. Our waiter was patient, helpful and attentive, without being overly so. We asked if we could have the everything bagel and the poached egg in the shell and he graciously obliged. The bagel was a delight, just a wee bit tiny. The poached egg looked just beautiful, but I didn't totally love the flavor combination of poached egg and caesar dressing.

                                            Those 2 apps were followed by cold fried chicken and corned duck. The cold fried chicken was just marvelous. I loved the combination of chicken, ricotta, tabasco and caviar. Seriously good. The corned duck was also pretty great; the duck was nicely prepared and tender. My only complaint was that the mustard was a tad overpowering.

                                            Our main was the smoked char with bearnaise spaetzle and broccoli rabe. It was not the most beautiful dish to look at, the colors and textures looked a little like a ghastly stew, but the flavors came together nicely and the spaetzle was sublime.

                                            2 of the desserts were very good, not exceptional. We quite enjoyed the liquid churro with lemon and chilies, and the chocolate with beet and long pepper (though I wished the chocolate in that dish was dark, and not easter-bunny-flavored milk chocolate). They were nice, just not transcendent.

                                            The spiced cake, we found, for lack of a better word, gross. Shame on us, as we don't like fried foods too much, but the deep fried cake with dehydrated corn and powdered sugar was kind of awful. But! We loved that we experienced an unsuccessful dish because we really got a sense of the experimentation at the restaurant. And our wonderful waiter comped it.

                                            As Foody mentioned, Wylie was presiding over the kitchen and dining room like a proud papa.

                                            Not the best meal of my life, but seriously fun, interesting and enjoyable. We are keen to go back and try other dishes!

                                            1. re: chompchomp

                                              We were there till they kicked us out (very nicely) around 9.

                                              4-1-3 sounds like a great alternative to the tasting menu. Think we'll probably do something similar and order 4 apps, 2 mains and 1 dessert for our next dinner.

                                              About those bagels - I asked Chef Dufresne if I could get a dozen to go and his reply was sure, but they probably wouldn't travel well! Maybe we'll have them for dessert next time...

                                        2. Thanks for reporting back, uhockey and RGR! Sounds like the meal was a great success.

                                          12 Replies
                                          1. re: kathryn

                                            Not so much for me since I was required to leave the table in order for the rest to enjoy the Dessert Tasting Menu. I had wanted only one dessert, but the policy is that the entire table must partake in the multi-course dessert tasting menu. If I had stayed to try the one dessert, the rest of the table would not be permitted to order the 5 course tasting menu. Seemed the only thing for me to do was to leave without any dessert. Silliest policy I've ever come across at a restaurant. I'm not sure I would have ruined anyone's evening if the restaurant had allowed me to remain at the table enjoying a single dessert while the rest of the table enjoyed 5. Who knows: I might have even been tempted to order a second dessert. It's a shame since I was having a perfectly nice evening until dessert.

                                            Edit: I see from RGR's lovely photos that the one dessert that I did want (the churro) wasn't even on the 5 course tasting menu.

                                            1. re: ellenost

                                              Glad you all enjoyed! You never know how some will react to WD - it's certainly as love it / hate it a restaurant as there is.

                                              REALLY bizarre what happened with ellenost, though. I've been to dinners with groups where we split dessert tastings. Granted, they might recognize me as a regular, but you'd think given the amount of food you ordered to begin with that they'd cut you some slack. Still, actually asking you to LEAVE the table? That's just ludicrous, and would have left a bad taste in my mouth. I suspect that isn't a cast-in-stone policy, but your server might have been new and not wanted to rock the boat. I can't think of any other explanation.

                                              MLII needs more attention than he's getting, IMHO. He had the misfortune of having to follow Alex Stupak but I think he's filling the shows quite nicely, and is really on par with the other pastry heavy-hitters in town - although who are they, now that Laiskonis and Iuzzini have hung up their aprons? Pinkerton and Headly are probably his only competition right now. (Not counting Tosi, brilliant as she is, as she does a very different style of dessert than the others... more focused on single items than composed plates)

                                              1. re: sgordon

                                                To clarify: no one asked me to "leave" the table, but if I didn't voluntary leave, my friends would not have been permitted to order the Dessert Tasting Menu. All I wanted was one dessert. Our server seemed very apologetic about the policy, and a manager came over to confirm that the restaurant's policy is that ALL at the table must partake of the 5 course Dessert Tasting Menu. By this time I had lost what little remained of my appetite, and voluntarily left so my friends would be permitted to enjoy the Dessert Tasting Menu seated at the table.

                                                1. re: sgordon

                                                  I think another wonderful pastry chef still in town is Sandro Michelli. I'd had the pleasure of enjoying a few really amazing desserts at Adour back when he was still pastry chef there. He has since joined Daniel.

                                                2. re: ellenost

                                                  ellenost,

                                                  We all ageed that it's a totally idiotic policy. And after you left, when Andrew came back to the table, it was pretty obvious to me that he felt so, too. I can understand having such a policy with an entire tasting menu, but I don't see why it isn't possible for one person to have just one dessert when the tasting begins and then have the tasting continue for the rest of the table. Seems pretty simple to me. And the manager had no explanation to offer other than "the rules are the rules." Ridiculous!

                                                  That said, I wish I could have convinced you to stay since I disagree that "the only thing for [you] to do was leave without dessert." There was a very workable alternative, so I don't understand why you insisted on leaving. I told you that I would have been perfectly happy to have had one dessert at the table with you and then the guys would do the tasting at the bar where I would have shared some of Mr. R.'s desserts. If you had stayed, you could have had that churro dessert, and everyone would have been satisfied.

                                                  http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                  1. re: RGR

                                                    RGR,

                                                    That was very kind of you to offer to sit with me while I had my one dessert, but it was silly that Mr. R and uhockey would have go sit at the bar to have the Dessert Tasting Menu. After all, three of you wanted to have the Tasting Menu, and there was no reason for three people to be inconvenienced for me. I was completely embarrassed at the thought of everyone else having to leave the table so I could have one dessert.

                                                    FWIW, I've called Per Se in the past for a birthday lunch reservation for my mother, and Per Se allows one person to have the 5 course meal and the others to have the 9 course meal. Somehow if Per Se can manage the difference in number of courses I expected that a more casual restaurant like WD-50 to manage the difference in courses for dessert. I guess I'll have to "stick" with Per Se. Oh well, WD-50's loss is Per Se's gain.

                                                    1. re: ellenost

                                                      ellenost,

                                                      I don't think uhockey and Mr. R. were particularly upset about doing the tasting at the bar (other than agreeing how stupid the rule is). But to be honest, I was upset that you felt you had to leave.

                                                      As far as Per Se goes, I think their willingness to do what you asked vis-a-vis the tasting menus puts them in a very distinct minority. I only know of one other restaurant that is willing to let diners do something similar, i.e., some do the tasting while others order a la carte. That would be Nicholas, in NJ.

                                                      The WD-50 situation doesn't even involve "managing." All they have to do is put the first dessert in front of everyone and then continue the tasting for everyone else. Doesn't seem in any way complicated.

                                                      http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                      1. re: RGR

                                                        Agree with you 100% that allowing me to have a single dessert at the same time the rest of the table received their first of the Dessert Tastings would not have interfered with the kitchen (or anyone else). That's why I could not understand the (il)logic of the manager or having you, Mr. R and uhockey needing to vacate the table and move to the bar.

                                                        As you correctly noted last night, this silly attitude makes me almost forget about the The Modern Dining Room telling me if I want the beignets for dessert, I would need to move my table to the Bar Room--nah, maybe not. But it certainly puts WD-50 at the top of the "stupidest rules" list.

                                                        The sad thing is, is that before the dessert episode, I was looking forward to returning to WD-50 to try the sweet potato soup that you had, and the wagyu that Mr. R had. Maybe someone from WD-50 will read this thread and decide to change the rule--I sure hope so.

                                                        1. re: ellenost

                                                          ellenost,

                                                          I certainly can't blame you for never wanting to go back.

                                                          In retrospect, we should have questioned the manager further as to the reason(s) for the policy instead of letting him just get away with, "It's the rule. Sorry." I'm really having trouble coming up with what the reason(s) could be since I've figured out a way that serving a single dessert can be accomplished with no extra effort at all.

                                                          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                      2. re: ellenost

                                                        That just might be the most inane policy I've ever heard; hopefully, someone at the restaurant stumbles upon this thread and reconsiders the merits of maintaining it.

                                                        1. re: degustingdiary

                                                          Tru in Chicago has the same policy. So do other restaurants with specific "dessert" tastings such as Providence in Los Angeles. I don't "agree" with the policy, but it is the same as requesting/requiring all to do a tasting menu - this is a TASTING. The fact that a fan of David Chang doesn't understand "policy" being more important than what is rational or "customer service" oriented seems a bit.....well, I have to say, strange.

                                                          Regarding RGR offering to do a single course and then for myself and Mr. R to go to the bar - it was an alternative - and I was not embarrased at all. We all choose what embarrases us, and this was a case where rules were rules, I was willing to go to the bar with others or by myself after we settled the bill, and all would have been fine. Our server WAS very apologetic and I'll leave it at that so as not to cause him any hassel. He was exemplary throughout the meal, as was the staff from front to back.

                                                          Regarding the desserts, as I have had a Rootbeer float I will say it was spot on - like a soft cold marshmallow cloud of A&W and cream. The beet/chocolate was a deconstructed Red Velvet cake (even down to the ricotta cream replacing the cream cheese frosting) and it was brilliant. The spice cake was other worldly and one of the 2-3 most memorable desserts I've had in the last year.

                                                          Overall I went into wd~50 expecting something better than moto but certainly not on the par with Alinea (or even close.) I expected style over substance and decent service. What I got was great food (RGR's duck being a little too "cabbagy" being my only complaint) and unreal desserts from a kitchen firing on all cylinders, plus great service aside from a policy issue that although unsensical certainly doesn't seem outlandish in a world of David Change, Caesar Ramirez, Katz's Deli, and Kenny Shopsin.

                                                          http://endoedibles.com

                                                        2. re: ellenost

                                                          I don't know if anyone at WD reads these boards, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to send them an email directly - in a nice way, of course, an "I understand this is the policy but really, now..."

                                                          It seems a bit silly, since they were essentially risking having ALL of you decide to leave and have dessert together elsewhere.

                                                          I remember some years ago - must have been '02 or '03 - having lunch with a group at Bouley. Two people in the group wanted to do a four course (three savory / one sweet) prix fixe special, though there were only two choices per course, choices which left the other five of us less than enthused, so we wanted to do a normal three course a la carte. Our waiter said fine, don't worry about it...

                                                          ...and proceeded to bring the five(!) of us an extra entree, on the house, when the mid-course was served to our two other companions.

                                                          I may be up and down on the food at Bouley, but that lunch put them on my permanent A-List.

                                                  2. I went to WD-50 about 2 months ago and went to Alinea about 2 years ago. I didn't dislike Alinea but I thought it was just ok. Perhaps it's too intellectual, too deep for me. Really enjoyed WD-50. Like others have mentioned, the food is actually pretty accessible and everything makes sense. Service was great too. I wanted the tasting menu but got too full 2/3rd in. They reduced the bill.

                                                    1. It was up, then down for a couple of years, but now is at a higher caliber than where it started. Highly recommended.