WD-50 was a last minute inclusion on my list of must visit restaurants in New York City. Actually, I lie – it was cut early from the list of contenders. I had heard that Wylie Dufresne, although a long-time colleague of Heston Blumenthal, and although he had created a cutting edge restaurant where chefs such as David Chang liked to go to eat, had perhaps lost his way. Anyway – at the last minute, it made it back on the list – I was looking for a Sunday night dinner with the Lovely K and hubby Pinot P and WD-50 was open and available, so it got a Guernsey.
The rest of the team had gone to Washington for a day trip and unfortunately, missed out on this exciting dinner. It was an amazing experience and one of the best food journeys of my travels so far. Each dis was so thoughtfully and excellently executed – it was a sublime meal.
Oh – but I waffle on don’t I – let’s get to the action. We started with negronis and a lovely wheat beer (although Pinot P would have preferred Tap 7 over Tap 4!). Perhaps this wasn’t a good way to start because American cocktails are not for the faint hearted – it was bit of an alcohol hit pretty early in the night. So, I was pretty merry as we headed into the set menu of 5 courses entitled ‘From the Vault’ since it contained the classic dishes that had put Wylie Dufresne on the culinary map of New York.
Sesame Seed Crisps
We were wowed with some sesame seed crisps. These had more visual impact than taste impact – but they were a fun way to start proceedings and they worked well with the drinks.
Our amuse bouche was a steamed mussel with horseradish and coconut sauce. It was further encriched with catalana bean purée, and some English peas and some crunchy pea cake; and was garnished with the thinnest slice of a yellow bean and some baby tarragon. Amazing. It was served with Schramsberg NV Brut Rosé ‘Mirabelle’ from Calistoga, California.
Sea Scallop, Berbere, Granola, Carrot, Marcona
The next dish was melt-in-the-mouth gorgeousness. A diver scallop was steamed and then sliced into ribbons – and placed in little piles at each end of the dish. Sitting underneath a delicious carrot ravioli pillow with a creamy, spicy carrot and berbere filling, was some amazing granola made of rice flakes and smoked Marcona almonds. I think this was my favourite dish – it was so delicate. We received a top up of our sparkling for this dish.
Edamame Gazpacho, Peekytoes Crab, Pomegranate, Pickled Ramp
The creaminess of this gazpacho dish was amazing – it had the brilliant flavour of edamame, enhanced by the crunchiness of dried and crumbled edamame on top. The crab had been flavoured with chives, lemon juice and salt and pepper, then formed into a roulade, and sliced on the angle. At the bottom of the dish sat pomegranate and pickled ramp (like a spring onion but more garlicky) which provided a gorgeous foil to the creaminess of the dish.
The only thing detracting from this dish was that we all thought the crab roulade was a little dry, and some piquantness from the lemon juice which just didn’t work well. The soup itself though – was divine. This was served with a 2010 white blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Roussane and Marsanne called ‘High on the Hog’ Barrel 27 from the Central Coast of California
Arctic Char, Root Beer-Date, Forbidden Rice, Fava
I think I can blame the negroni, but I forgot to take a photo until halfway through this dish. Fortunately, the last half was fairly intact – so you just need to imagine the same components doubled. Again, this was a sublimely executed dish – the fish had been poached sous vide at a very low temperature so it literally melt-in-the-mouth. Alongside was a fava bean purée and the forbidden rice – which was a fabulous texture. The fish had been glazed with a root beer and date purée – again sublime. We were served a 2013 Bodega Chacra Pinot Noir Rosé entitled ‘Mainqué’ with this dish – from Patagonia, Argentina.
Pork Belly, Ancho, Pineapple, Caper
This is the dish I have now dubbed a ridiculously brilliant version of sweet and sour pork. The pork belly has been poached sous vide in verjus, and then served with braised and caramelised pineapple, and capers that have been fried and dried. A smear of caper emulsion added further saltiness to proceedings, and there were cubes of fried fingerling (kipfler) potatoes. The whole dish was topped with some salted garlic chives. It was a rich dish – but the combination of the pork and the pineapple was amazing. This was served with a 2011 Barbera from ‘Shake Ridge Vineyard’, in Amador County, California and was entitled Forlorn Hope.
Parsnip Cake, Coconut-Cream Cheese, Carrot, Walnut
And now we come to the penultimate course – dessert! This parsnip cake was amazing – moist and delicious, it was very similar to carrot cake. It was topped with a delicious and refreshing coconut-cream cheese sorbet, surrounded by a carrot, leek and ginger emulsion. It also had drizzles of ginger caramel, and the plate was punctuated by candied walnuts – one of my favourites. It was an absolutely smashing dish! To-Die-For – that’s all I can say. We enjoyed a delicious Late Harvest Pinot Gris from Robert Sinskey based in Los Carneros, California with this dish.
As if we hadn’t been wowed enough by this delicious trek through our senses, we were presented with our petit-fours, or mignardise, as they were entitled on our menu. Essentially dubbed Blueberry cheesecake – these little pillows of blueberry ‘leather’ encased a filling of dehydrated cream cheese and graham cracker. It shouldn’t work at all – but it did!! Big time! Amazing! Loved it!
I was very happy that we had made it to WD-50. It certainly turned out to be one of the highlight meals of my New York extravaganza. I would go again without hesitation – my next trip is already shaping up… it’s a worry!! As far as I’m concerned – the rumours about Wylie Dufresne are completely incorrect – this was an amazing meal and I can’t wait to return. Make sure you put it on your itinerary next time you’re in New York.