Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Dec 19, 2012 07:34 AM

Molecular Gastronomy for kids

My son is 11 and he thinks molecular gastronomy is cool. Me, I'm not so easily impressed but I was wondering if there were any restaurants I could take him to to see some in action that are still accessible for an 11 year old. (He's a good eater, eats seafood, sushi, vegetables, etc...)

I honestly have no idea where to begin since it's not really something I'm into but we'll be in the city from December 26-29th so I thought it would be cool for him. Lunch or dinner.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Hmm, this is going to be a tough one.

    We don't have very many molecular gastronomy restaurants here to begin with.

    What do you mean by "see some [MG] in action"?

    Many do NOT put on "a show" of the techniques during service time. You might be able to get a kitchen tour after your dinner, but that might be the extent of it. Lots of MG techniques are extremely time consuming and are done well before any guests arrive.

    Also all the MG restaurants I can think of off the top of my head have a very "adult" atmosphere AND are tasting menu only (so ballpark 3-4 hours for a meal): WD-50, Atera, Eleven Madison Park, Corton.

    How much are you willing to spend? Given that almost all are tasting menu only it might be out of your budget. $125-$175pp just for food. Then add on tax and tip.

    And most are only open for dinner. The exception would be Eleven Madison Park, which is open for weekday lunch.

    Also a lot of these book WELL in advance. EMP regularly books up 28 days ahead -- the next available lunch reservation is in January, dinner looks fully booked.

    Atera looks fully booked for your dates, too.

    Corton does look like it has a good amount of availability. More on Corton:

    WD-50 has a 9:30pm on 12/26 and 8:30pm on 12/27, but given how long the tasting menu is, it might end too late for you.

    You might be able to do WD-50 or EMP a la carte at the bar, but it might also be weird given that it's, well, a bar.

    7 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks for your quick response! When I said show, I wasn't expecting anything more than maybe a dessert or something where the use of MG is apparent. It doesn't even have to be a whole meal. I was thinking no more than $50/pp so maybe just a course or a dessert and not a whole meal.

      1. re: jenh718

        WD-50 at the bar would probably be best then as you can order a la carte from either tasting menu. I'd go early, as soon as they open for dinner, and ask the bartender for recommendations.

        There's a ton of images of their dishes on Yelp/Flickr, as well as here:

        1. re: kathryn

          I was under the impression that kids were not allowed to sit at bars in the city. May want to call to make sure before you make the trip.

          1. re: lexismore

            That's only if it's a proper "bar" bar (i.e. the primary purpose of the establishment is serving alcohol) - when it's part of a restaurant, it's simply seats at a restaurant that happen to be in front of where the alcohol is stored, no legal issues.

            WD at the bar might be the best choice, but portions are fairly small - it's selections from the tasting menu. But for $50/pp you can get four things each, a good selection of items - maybe two savory / two sweet, or three savory / one sweet each, which would make a decent meal. Ask the bartender which dishes are bigger than others so as to make more of a "meal" out of it.

            Wylie & crew are generally very amenable to having kids come by the kitchen. Let them know (maybe secretly, so your kid doesn't hear) that he'd love to see some culinary wizardry in action and they might pull you aside between courses so he can check out the kitchen just as they're about to do something neat-o, maybe even for one of your dishes right before you eat it. Dufresne and Malcolm Livingston (the pastry chef) are kind of big kids themselves, and really good with the young'ns.

            1. re: sgordon

              I've spent way too much time at the Mesa Grill bar.

              On numerous occasions, I've seen the management refuse to seat kids at the bar under any circumstances. That may be restaurant policy, and not city policy, but it might be worth checking out beforehand to avoid disappointment.

              1. re: lexismore

                The bar area at WD-50 isn't just bar seating - there's a small two-top and a communal table by the window that seats six, IIRC. So not everything is "at the bar" so to speak.

                1. re: lexismore

                  Heck, call anyways! Chefs like inspiring kids as much as anyone else. If you call WD-50 and tell them you've got an 11-year-old fascinated by MG and you'd like to do something for him I'd bet you an internet dollar they'd do something to accommodate you. And even if I lost that bet I'd bet another internet dollar they'd have a suggestion for you.

      2. I'd take your son to WD-50. The staff is enthusiastic about explaining the molecular aspects of the dishes and might even give him a kitchen tour to meet Wylie Dufresne.