Well, my mind was blown last night. Seriously. wd~50 exceeded all my expectations. I knew I would like it, but I didn't know just how much. From the addictive flatbread at the start to the kitchen tour at the end, it was a flawless performance by all involved.
I had read a few complaints about the dining room previously, but I personally thought it was great. I don't want to eat cold fried chicken in a dining room like EMP or anything like that. wd~50's space is simple, tasteful and modern without being stuffy. We were seated in a corner booth right by the fireplace, which was perfect for the chilly Friday evening.
The sesame flatbreads they give you to start at addictive and amazing—they remind me of the most perfect dessert tuile, just in a savory, sesame form.
I started out with the pH cocktail (vodka, raspberry, lychee and rose) and wasn't disappointed in the least. My boyfriend thought it was a bit too much like fruit punch, but i loved the rose-lychee combination. He had the Royal Beeting (clear whiskey, beet, lemon, champagne). I wasn't expecting to like his, as I'm not a huge beet fan, but the lemon balanced things out.
Then the real fun began...
Our first course was Spanish mackerel with sweet potato-coconut soup, pecans and thyme. YUM. Mackerel is my least favorite fish, but this rendition was absolutely fantastic. By this point, my boyfriend was already asking if we could just spend the night and have Wylie cook for us everyday. The sweet potato-coconut combo was sweet without being cloying and balanced out perfectly with the clean fish.
Second was the famous everything bagel! I don't even feel the need to describe this one in depth, as most people who know anything about Wylie are already familiar with it. Needless to say, it was fantastic—and we laughed from the first bite onward.
Third course was the favorite of the night. The foie gras terrine (in cylindrical form), filled with passionfruit, and dried chinese celery. Our jaws dropped. We were silent. We ate this very, very slowly, as we didn't want it to go away too quickly! This was, without a doubt, the most fantastic rendition of foie I've ever had. The buttery richness of the foie was cut by the sweet-tart passionfruit flavor and the dried chinese celery added a little crunch and sweetness.
The next dish was the only one I was reluctant about: the scrambled egg ravioli, charred avocado and kindai kampachi. My boyfriend detests eggs; I only dislike them. When we were initially asked about allergies/dislikes, I thought about mentioning eggs, but I sucked it up. Boy, am I glad I did. This was quite possibly my second favorite dish. The scrambled egg ravioli was not eggy at all, just fluffy and flavorful and well-balanced with the cool kampachi and the avocado.
Since my boyfriend really truly does hate eggs, he was served the peekytoe crab roll with salt 'n vinegar chips and celery mayo. This was great too, but I only had one bite so I'm not super qualified to extoll it's virtues. ;) Although, the salt 'n vinegar chips are in miniature form—about the size of my pinky fingernail—so they were fun to eat.
At this point, we each ordered our second cocktail—our favorites of the night. I had the LES Lassie (lemongrass gin, dry vermouth, yogurt, lime) and my boyfriend had the Brown Town (bourbon, amaro, sweet vermouth, bitters), their take on a Manhattan. I love cocktails with yogurt, so the Lassie totally impressed me. The Brown Town was equally impressive, for a "manly" drink.
The other star: the famous cold fried chicken, buttermilk ricotta, honey tabasco and caviar. Leftovers on crack. The hi-brow/lo-brow combo was phenomenal. I swear I heard angels singing when I got a perfect bite of salty caviar, creamy ricotta, and chicken, with just a hint of heat from the tabasco. The buttermilk ricotta was mashed potato-like in texture, which made me feel ever more like I was in the south having a big plate of fried chicken.
Sixth course: bay scallops, bone marrow, parnsip and black sesame. This was served in a small bowl with five or six bay scallops, perfectly seared, topped with the parsnip-black sesame puree and nestled in with two black sesame wafers and two little chunks of parsnip. I was curious as to how Wylie was going to serve the bone marrow: he shaved it over the top, which was a perfect application. I thought anything else might be just too rich. This was another star dish. I think it ended up being my boyfriend's second favorite.
I had the beef and bernaise next, while my boyfriend had the cod, peas and coconut, nori pasta and carrot dashi. Our waiter, who also dislikes eggs, said he felt the gnocchi in the beef and bernaise was eggy, so he subbed in the cod for the BF. I loved the beef and bernaise and thought the consommé truly stole the show—I could drink a gallon of it! The cod was great, but the other flavors were not my favorite. My boyfriend quite liked it, but I think if I had to pick a least favorite dish, that would be it.
The finally savory dish was like Thanksgiving on a plate: squab breast, a cheese pumpkin puree, and a mini-cornbread stuffed with pickled cranberries. Another home run. Just the smell took me back to holiday dinners, but they never tasted this good!
Then, onto desserts! We each ordered a glass of the Cava Rosé ‘de Nit’ Raventós i Blanc 2007, which was actually suited perfectly to the following courses.
The pre-dessert of white beer ice cream, apple, caramel and a caraway cracker, was the standout for both of us. The rainbow sherbet (apple, tarragon, orange) with olive oil gel and a sponge cake was also a hit, especially since it's served in a crispy, spring roll-like wrapping paper, but the flavors of first dessert (made with Allagash white ale) hit it out of the park. My least favorite dessert, as if I could choose one, was the soft chocolate, beet, long pepper, ricotta ice cream. Still lovely and I enjoyed the mild hints of heat from the long peppers. The cocoa packets finished us up, but the condensed milk ice cream in the chocolate shortbread balls were my favorite.
Afterward, we took a kitchen tour. Wylie was in and came over and introduced himself, thanked us for coming and invited us back. He struck me as incredibly humble, gracious and passionate about his work. The kitchen was shockingly small and hotter than hell! Stupak was in as well and waved to us and said welcome.
It was a great experience. I highly recommend the tasting menu for the first time, and then perhaps order individual courses on subsequent experiences. We will be back without a doubt.
50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002