Corton or WD-50
OK - I have two friends coming in from Chicago next month and our plan was for me and my wife to take them to EMP as its our favorite place in NY. Of course they booked their flights already and the weekend they are due in is the weekend that EMP is doing the Alinea swap. Having eaten at Alinea a few months back and having no real interest in doing it again nor trying to fight for a ticket to the dinner my wife and I are thinking about bringing them to either WD-50 or Corton. My wife and I have eaten at both (WD-50 several times over the last few years and Corton once roughly around a year and half ago). My question is for those of you that have eaten at either or both in the last, say 3 to 6 months, what are your thoughts on the food now. Who is on their game so to speak and what sounds like the better option. Many thanks for any feedback! Jay
To me it would depend on the vibe you're looking for. WD-50 (as you know) has a much more casual, playful ambience, whereas Corton feels a bit more "white tablecloth" so to speak. They're both on their game - I've been to WD more recently, had a few very solid dishes form the tasting menu at the bar. Liked most of what I had if I was -slightly- disappointed in the foie prep (the "Pho Gras") - odd, since foie is usually one of Dufresne's strongest suits.
On savories, they're probably evenly matched - I think favoring one over the other is probably more a matter of personal taste, which chef's flavor profile speaks to you more. Otherwise, it's a matter of little differences: Corton's wine list is superior, though WD's is a bit more eclectic. WD's cocktails, on the other hand, are among the best in the city.
I've always found desserts better at WD than at Corton - certainly under Stupak, but Livingston has filled Stupak's shoes quite ably, and is easily one of the best pastry chefs in NYC right now. The only others I'd really rank up there with him (off the top of my head) would be Headly at Del Posto, and Tosi at Milk Bar (though Tosi, obviously, works a very different style)
And while WD is now a set menu, with little in the way of special "extras" - there is a certain ineffable quality that comes form being known to the house, which I'm sure you are (even if you don't realize it) if you've been several times. The level of service becomes friendlier, etc. Things like that can make the experience for your guests better.
While I haven't eaten at WD-50 since the recent menu revamp, I liked the food at my dinner in February. I've dined twice at Corton (most recently 3 weeks ago), and I loved both meals. I felt the service, while it was very good on the first visit, was excellent during my most recent visit. Corton is an excellent alternative to EMP.