Restaurants & Bars


Stupak outshines Wylie?


Restaurants & Bars Manhattan

Stupak outshines Wylie?

tldmatrix | | Nov 15, 2010 02:54 PM

I have been dreaming about this meal for quite some time now, about 6 months to be exact. I was promised a meal with a dinner budget of about $100 per person last year after getting good grades in school. I decided on WD~50 because it was different. I have eaten at amazing "classic" restaurants like Eleven Madison Park, Del Posto, and Jean Georges, but I wanted to try something new and different. Wylie Dufresne, the executive chef and owner, incorporates a special ingredient into all of his dishes that not all chefs use. The ingredient is humor and emotion. His genius food will most importantly taste sensational, but it will also make you laugh and make you marvel at his technique.
I was greeted by a very friendly wait staff who were very down to earth. My dad and I were seated at a booth and we both were able to see inside of the kitchen. Wylie Dufresne, Joe Bignelli (Chef De Cuisine), and Alex Stupak (Genius Pastry Chef) were all in house working their asses off. It is not usual for famous chefs like Wylie to be in house working the line, but he is and I really appreciated it. I ordered the tasting menu with my dietary restrictions due to my food allergies, while my dad just ordered a few things a la carte.

Just by eating the "bread" at WD~50 you see the genius of the restaurant. Instead of heavy, filling bread they serve light, crispy flat bread. The bread was as thin as a piece of paper and melted in my tongue. This was so delicious and did not fill me up, so I was able to enjoy the fantastic meal which lay ahead of me.

The amuse bouche I was served consisted of pickled radishes, tofu, and red pepper gel The peppery radish flavor was diluted by the other flavors and to be frank the dish really did not excite me the way I was hoping that it would.

Next came Cuttlefish, apple gel, watercress puree, and fresh watercress. After the disappointing amuse I was expecting to be blown away by this dish and I was not at all. The cuttlefish was very dense so the textures of the gel and puree were lost and their flavors were diluted. This was the worst dish of the night and I was starting to get really scared that this meal was not going to live up to my expectations.

(Sorry for the bad picture, however it was very aesthetic at the restaurant)

I was served aerated foie, pickled beet, plum, and brioche. To make this dish Wylie liquefies the foie, cooks it, takes all of the air out in a cyrovac, and then ultimately foams the foie in an iSi canister. This was the best foie gras I had ever had in my life. The rich, unctuous foie gras was incredible by it's own, but was complemented even more by the crispy brioche's texture. The beets and plums gave great acidity and sweetness to the best foie dish I have ever had. By now I had completely forgot about the two previous courses and was excited for what was to come.

Now it was time for the famous Eggs Benedict. Wylie absolutely loves eggs, particularly eggs benedict. On Top Chef Season 5 when he was guest judge for the "Last Supper" episode his last meal that he wanted was perfect eggs benedict. Wylie wanted to put eggs benedict on his menu because of his obsession with it, but he had to modify it so it worked with WD~50's philosophy. What he came up with is pure genius. The egg yolks were pureed and put in cylinder mold and poached very slowly to get the perfect texture. He then takes hollandaise sauce and coats it in English muffin and to the fryer it goes. He fries hollandaise! That is so cool. He garnishes the dish with ultra thin slices of crisped Canadian bacon and black Himalayan sea salt. This dish blew my mind. It was perfectly seasoned, had great texture, and expressed who Wylie is as a chef. I will dream about this dish for a long time.

I was given a dish of Cold Fried Chicken, buttermilk-ricotta, Tabasco, and some seed that had similar textures and flavors to caviar. The original dish has caviar in it, but I am allergic so they made a substitution. To make this dish the dark meat of chicken is "glued" together using transglutaminase, also known as meat glue. Next they cook the huge hunk of meat sous vide and then freeze it with liquid nitrogen. The meat gets coated with a special starch and fried. The coating is hot and crispy while the meat is still cold. I do not see a point in keeping the chicken cold. I believe in regards to taste the dish would have been better if the chicken was hot. I still loved the dish though. The Tabasco added a nice heat and the buttermilk-ricotta was very creamy and tasty.

I was then served Peekytoe crab roll, salt n' vinegar chips, celery mayonnaise. The crab was very sweet and worked great with the crispy roll and acidic chips. The celery mayonnaise added a pleasant richness. This dish was delectable, however it did not seem to work with the philosophy of WD~50. This dish seemed to be simple delicous food, which there is nothing bad about that at all, but that is not what Wylie does at WD~50.

My waiter brought out the next course which was "Beef and Bernaise". The dumplings were scrumptious. They were very moist and floavorful. However the consomme was very bitter and had no flavor of beef.

Them, I was served Roasted Squab with Pumpkin, Chinese Spinach, and Cornbread. The dish really did not look that good to the eye. It was all the same color except for the spinach. However, the squab was cooked beautifully, a perfect, rosy medium rare. The pumpkin and cornbread tasted very earthy and led the dish to bring you back to the Thanksgiving table. The spinach was blanched properly and seasoned well, but the kitchen I believe could have done something more than just simply blanch a green and put it on the plate.

Now it was time for desserts. My first dessert was a Licorice custard with sake sorbet, and Bartlett pear foam. This was the most clean and refreshing dessert I have every tasted. The sake sorbet was silky smooth. I believe that they had to use liquid nitrogen to make the sake sorbet so they could freeze the alcohol. The custard was rich and not overpowering. The pear foam was the essence of pear with the creamiest and lightest texture possible. This dish was extraordinary.

Next, I received Rainbow Sherbet with plum, tarragon, orange, and olive oil. After the probably the best dessert of my life I did not expect this dessert to live up to the hype, but it did. The olive oil cake was perfect and the olive oil jam added a great fruitiness and saltiness to the dish. The rainbow sherbet was inside a gossamer thin sugar tuille. This dessert took a ton of skill to make. There was nothing wrong with this dish at all. Perfection.

My last plated dish of the night was Soft Chocolate with beet, long pepper, and ricotta ice cream. The combination of the beet and ricotta was sublime. It blew my mind how good it was. The savoriness and saltiness of the beet went so well with the ricotta ice cream. The chocolate was tasty, but did not even need to be on the plate. The beets and ricotta ice cream together was the best bite of dessert I have ever had. When the chocolate was brought into the mouth it overpowered the other components.

By now my stomach was bursting with food, but I was going to eat every last bit of what was served to me. My dad an I received Cocoa Packets and Chocolate Shortbread with milk ice cream. The technique on the Cocoa Packets was very precise and the flavors were great. The Chocolate Shortbread with milk ice cream was decadent and extremely flavorful. It was the perfect last bite to a great dining experience.

After the meal we were asked if we would like a tour of the kitchen! They were asking me, I did not ask them. I was going to ask anyway, but they could tell I was really into food so they asked me first. The kitchen was pretty small, but they had a downstairs prep kitchen that I did not get to see. Wylie, Alex, and Joe were all extremely busy busting out food to a jam-packed restaurant so they really did not have much time for me. Wylie was working the whole fish station by himself. I find that great how he still actually works the line.

In my opinion Alex Stupak out shined Wylie Dufresne tonight at my meal. His masterful desserts honestly had no flaws. They were by far the best desserts I ever had in my life. The savory parts of the meal had very high points, like the eggs benedict and the foie gras, but also had some low points, like the cuttlefish. The foie and eggs benedict are definitely in the top 5 dishes of my life. WD~50 blew me away and I really hope I can come back for more soon.

Pictures are here

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