We went to WD-50 last week and had a fantastic meal. The food was delicious. We ordered the tasting menu and were impressed by the twelve different courses. In addition to being visually striking, each dish boasted its own intriguing diversity of textures and flavors. Each course maintained its own character while at the same time complimenting or balancing what came before or after. While there is an undeniable intellectual/conceptual aspect to the food at WD-50 that can surprise and challenge, it is well balanced with humor, memory, and cultural references. Above all, there is an exciting element of discovery and transformation when eating there.
Here is a breakdown of our courses:
1. Hamachi tartar with saltine puree and balsamic vinegar. Delicious. The saltine puree was the binder and star of the dish. Great use of high and low rent ingredients.
2. Hamachi poached in orange soy broth with pear and green olive/parsnip puree. Interesting visual play as the hamachi resembled an orange slice. The orange flavor was too strong paired with the fish. The green olive/parsnip puree with dehydrated mushrooms sprinkled on top was delicious. The parsnip flavor was the dominant flavor in this puree.
3. Scallops with parsley jous and beet yogurt. The beet yogurt was beautifully balanced, unexpected and very tasty. The somewhat sweet beet yogurt was a nice counterbalance to the bitterness of the parsley jous. The plate was visually beautiful with the red beet yogurt and green parsley jous referencing Christmas colors. Scallops were seared perfectly.
4. Octopus with parsley root puree, mojama flakes and toasted chopped almonds scattered on the side, and thin sliced smoked pineapple with a drizzle of oil from the mojama (dehydrated tuna). Octopus was tender and well prepared. An interesting combination of ingredients. The almond/mojama blend was beautiful and added lots of flavor and texture. The smoked pineapple was a striking monkey wrench in the whole dish. This dish was truly amazing. It is impressive to see this type of experimentation.
5. Shrimp noodles with smoked yogurt, Chinese prawn crackers with tomato powder on top, and a line of powdered nori on the plate. A definite winner for the night. The shrimp noodles were amazing and the smoked yogurt was tangy and savory. These ingredients married so well that you almost felt like it was a regular down home dish somewhere.
6. One hour slow poached egg with parmesan broth, tomato powder, and dried chickpea noodles. This is a deliciously junk food tasting. Almost like gourmet Ramen Noodles. Weve had this before and always look for it and enjoy it.
7. Barramundi with passion fruit yogurt, butternut squash, blanched Brussels sprouts, and spiced breadcrumbs. This is perhaps the most criticizable dish of the night. While the choice of fish was interesting (barramundi is a strong, rich fish which you dont see on menus all that often) and well cooked, the passion fruit yogurt was a bit too sweet and overpowering. The Brussels sprouts were tasty with the spiced breadcrumbs but the dish as a whole lacked complete unity and balance.
8. Monkfish with spaghetti squash, poached spiced pear, and a pumpernickel/ cocoa spread. The monkfish took the back seat to the other ingredients. The spaghetti squash was delicious and textural and the pumpernickel/cocoa spread was so delicious you could have it on your morning toast. Almost no need for the fish here.
9. Quince tonic with fried manchego sticks. A lighthearted twist on an old traditional segue-way between savory to sweet courses. The quince tonic served as a shot washed down the scrumptious fried cheese sticks. How can you go wrong with fried cheese? This dish shows off the chefs fun side and offers a respite to the more intellectual side of the previous tastings.
10. Lychee sorbet with celery soup. Awesome. Unexpected yet simple combo with amazing results. The celery soup was light and sweet but still retained its celery character. Many other chefs would have trampled the celery quality with too much sweetness but here the delicate, celery flavor was maintained and harmonized beautifully with the lychee sorbet.
11. Chocolate cream with coffee soil tonka bean ice cream. The chocolate cream came in a log shaped shell. The coffee soil was delicious and the tonka bean ice cream was subtle but very clearly was not vanilla- more like a cousin of vanilla ice cream. The soil was sweet and added a nice crunchy component to the ice cream and the chocolate. This dish exhibited a nice balance of crunchy/hard to silky/smooth.
12. Apple cider with ginger cotton candy. So good. So fun. The hot mulled apple cider accompanied the ginger cotton candy. What a smart way to serve dessert. At this point we were full but everyone has room to inhale/eat melt on contact cotton candy. The ginger flavor was abundant and delicious.
A perfect example again of how the chef knows what the whole experience should be like. He recognizes that at this point everyone is so full so he practically serves air.
When you get the check- instead of the stock, ubiquitous, petit fours you get almonds rolled in chocolate and curry powder.
For the wines we had a bottle of the 2002 Francine and Olivier Savary Chablis Fourchaume. This was a really delicious Chablis and paired well with the various courses. A rich, complex, full-bodied Chablis with a long finish. White wines with good levels of acidity rather than sugar do well with WD-50s dishes.
We also had a glasses of the 2003 Pablo Padin Albarino and the 1996 Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos Birsalmas from the Royal Tokaji Company. The albarino was a nice, acidic white wine that complemented the food well. This wine is more full-bodied than most albarinos and thus better suited for wintertime. The tokaji was a luscious sweet wine with good levels of acidity to balance out the sugar.