Tuesday, May 23, 2006

WD-50: Forefront of American Cuisine

Pictured above and borrowed from WD-50's website is a shot of “Pickled calf's tongue, fried mayonnaise, onion streusel..." I would have rather captioned this post with the shot never taken after dinner in WD-50's kitchen. It was of this writer with owner /chef Wylie Dufresne. Unfortunately, however, the battery of Ms. Yi’s Canon Elf, a better choice than my EOS 20-D for sneaking pictures in restaraunts, was in need of recharging. If you want pictures---of WD-50, its people, its menu, and its food, go here:

As we arrived a few minutes early for our 10 p.m. reservation, a couple of people ahead of us were waiting near the small bar where five casually dressed patrons sat sipping wine. An efficient hostess quickly offered us immediate seating we were happy to take at a little table next to the bar.

WD-50 is at 50 Clinton Street on the Lower East Side. It could be described as trendy and inviting, but with less pomp and pretention than one might expect for a restaurant rated 4th best in New York by New York Magazine, 34th best in the world by Restaurant Magazine (U.K.), and where Food & Wine has proclaimed the chef to be one of America's ten best. The dining room, which is located between the bar and the kitchen, seats 70.

The little table near the bar provided us our own space to take in WD-50’s relatively quiet bar scene and also gaze out upon street life that was agreeably picturesque. Given our penchant for cocktails, we were delighted that the bartender was also our waiter. His attention to us was beautifully timed. Needless to say we had plenty of questions relating to the menu, every one of which he answered in perfect detail. Soon, he was able to anticipate our questions before we asked, no matter how specific they might have been. It was impossible not to genuinely like him. He’d been at WD-50 from the start and described working there as “the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.” Early on he extended his offer to take us back to the kitchen after dinner to meet owner/chef Wylie Dufresne.

As for cocktails, if you've follow Unique Culinary Adventures from its inception, the synchronicity of “Rye and Quince,” among WD-50's scpecialty cocktails should become immediately apparent. It mixed rye with quince/lemon syrup, and dashes of Angostura bitters. Mrs. Yi ordered a “Royal Blush,” of gin, lime juice, cherry puree, and champagne. Later, I would enjoy a “Capsicum Cooler,” mixed with rum, bell pepper, lemon, egg white, and club soda.

The food was creative in both description and presentation. My appetizer was "Foie gras, watermelon, sea bean, lovage..." Mrs. Yi’s appetizer was “Hangar tartare, pickled Asian Pear, amaro, bernaise ice cream…” My entrée was “Pork belly, sauerkraut spaetzle, Swiss cheese consumme, romaine…” Mrs. Yi opted for “Scallops, celery noodles, hazelnut-potato, pine needle oil…” For desert, we split “Kumquat confit, carob ice cream, soy caramel…” The dots at the end of each description denote there's more. Our wonderful server explained it all, more than I could keep straight without having to visibly take notes.

As promised, our evening at WD-50 ended in the kitchen with owner-chef Wylie Dufresne. His countenance was as pleasant and quietly engaging as his restaurant. If anything we've said intrigued you, check out WD-50's website to which the link is provided. There you will find the really important facts about The restaurant and its people, Wylie Dufresne in particular. Click also on "menu." Click on "images," where page 1 pictures the space and page 2 the food. Even better, go up to New York and discover W-D 50 for yourself.