last night we went to alder
yea, there were some glitches, but we loved alder.
who'd have guessed we'd walk in on a thursday night at a rock star chef's new restaurant and be shown right to a table? a table with cubbies under the bench so i could stash my purse and bulky jacket. bonus points for that.
complimentary sparkling or still water. so much classier than pushing the profitable and expensive stuff then adding, "or we can give you, pause, tap water." more bonus points.
i like to drink boulevardiers, basically a negroni made with bourbon. not only is it hard to pronounce, but nine times out of ten the bartender has never heard of it. the waitress wrote careful notes then came back with a perfect drink--clearly the bartender needed no instruction. the rocks glasses were the best i've seen in new york. clean modern lines, big enough to grab, and full of cold draft ice. a big thumbs up.
our gigantic food order came coursed one or two dishes at a time and we were given plenty of time to enjoy. our waitress was a bit awkward on her clearing the plates timing--a couple of times she tried to take food we were still eating but when my husband explained it was only the first week, it was completely understandable. one caveat. several times during our meal, she asked us if we were still "working on" our food. yes, this is a casual place, but with food this sophisticated, the staff should have been trained to never ever ever say that. it reeks of diner. and alder ain't no diner.
the food was smashing with a few little glitches. the giant smear of creamy cheese served with ultra crunchy crackers and nut brittle was delicious though the purpley gray color was a bit unappetizing. i like my brittle crunchy and this wasn't so i don't know if they didn't bring the sugar up to hard ball temperature (candy making 101) or they were aiming for something more chewy. the portion was out of control big and i'm guessing will get sized down in the weeks to come.
the only miss of the evening for me was the sausage filled kumquats. they were tasty, but everything had the same mushy texture and it just didn't work for me. we left more than half the portion on the plate.
the foie gras was amazing. but i'm not sure who was expediting (wylie kept coming out of the kitchen to look over the dining room) and missed that our english muffin was cooked well to the point of burnt. still, it was amazing.
the quail was served boneless which nearly brought me to tears. even though i love quail, generally i am too lazy to deal with all the teensy tiny bones. smiley face for the quail.
the salmon tartare was the best i've ever had. i loved opening up the avocado shell to expose the lovely pink flesh. yum. wish there would have been more fish.
the rye pasta with pastrami was the best pastrami sandwich i've ever eaten.
my husband loved the pork rib, but for me it was a bit of a meh. the meat was cut into cubes, which, to me, reeks of school cafeteria and gives the meat a just out of the package texture. since i'd not read the menu and just ate what was served to me, it took a moment to realize i was chewing on spaetzle not scrambled eggs. it was tasty, but not something i'd order again.
i have no idea what we had for dessert. the waitress named it but it was hard to hear, so we just ate what arrived. it was some sort of delicious tart. i think it had chocolate in the crust. it reminded me a bit of delicious indian milk sweets, if they were served on a bit of a leaden crust. i'm knit picking here, but the crust could have been flakier. actually, it could have been flaky at all. but i'd still order it again.
my overall impression? nice room. nice mixed crowd, not too young, not too old. cleared out kind of early, which surprised me. the drinks were spot on and served in most beautiful glasses i've seen at any restaurant in the last year. the food was inventive. and delicious. and did i say delicious. funny, because at our house, we've kinda moved away from the whole food as science thing because sometimes all the weirdness just gets in the way of us wanting to eat. but here, it was playful and fun and not at all annoying. just delicious. and did i mention, it was delicious? can't wait to go back.
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funny, i've had two average meals at wd-50, much preferred tailor the short lived molecular place his ex-pastry chef opened. perhaps it is the casualness of alder that makes it work. nothing felt like it was trying too hard and despite some glitches a magazine reviewer would probably find unforgivable, i can't wait to work my way through the rest of the menu. funny, just "ran into" wylie getting coffee near my business downtown and, yes, he seemed nice.
Can't wait to try. I've enjoyed every meal I've had at wd-50, especially the very first time when I was given a kitchen tour and saw Wylie himself working the line. He's a very nice guy and a talented chef—it will be nice to be able to enjoy his food regularly without breaking the bank.