WD-50 (NY) – You Aren’t This Creative

WD-50 was my designated “fancy” meal for this NY trip.WD-50 was the most famous experimental cook in the US before the Alinea & Moto PR machines kicked into gear. Wylie (the chef) cooked for Jean Georges (my favorite US restaurant) and used that fusion experience as his point of departure into the netherworld of experimental food. The fusion aesthetic is still very much a part of his cuisine, but it’s been put through blenders, dehydrators, and countless other devices whose original purpose was probably chemistry or medicine.

Alinea and Moto are coming up soon, but if you want to see one vision for the future of food – book a trip to WD-50. I ordered the tasting menu and of my 3 meals here, this was easily the best. Everything worked, and it worked very well.

1. Peeky Toe Crab, Pine, Chocolate, & Pea Blossoms
Wylie’s surf & turf – the chocolate, with little to no sweetness, enveloped your mouth with its very earthy taste; slowly, the salty crab peeked (no pun intended) through and took over. At the end, a faint floral taste.

This reminded me quite a bit of Can Roca’s “oyster w/ earth distallates” – same concept, similar tastes, but Can Roca’s was definitely a step ahead. This was probably my least favorite of the night. Good.

2. Octopus, Orange Dirt, Chamomile Yogurt, & Asparagus
Quite a unique dish. at first, thought the octopus was re-constituted somewhere – it had the texture of sausage and the skin had none of the suckers. The octopus had a slightly herbacious flavor that paired very well w/ the orange (dirt) and the slight tang of the yogurt.

The waiter explained the octopus was slowly cooked for 4-6 hours in herb oil and then lightly grilled before serving. The outermost skin falls off during the cooking which is why the suckers are gone. Very Good.

3. Shrimp Cous Cous, Avocado, Papaya, & Crispy Kaffir
Shrimp that has been transformed into small cuos cous pellets. salty, but tempered by the papaya sweet burst (and i’m not much of a fan of papaya.) Very Good.

4. Hangar Tartar, Bernaise Ice Cream, & Asian Pear
Very tasty for a Wd-50 dish ( ) – the ice cream was a touch icy (nit-picking). Very Good.

5. Miso Soup & Sesame “Noodles”
You squeeze your own noodles from the supplied squeeze bottle and they cook in the broth. A fun dish that serves some purpose – the noodles would probably overcook if the kitchen squeezed them in. The broth was straight-forward, but very clear and pure. Good to Very Good.

6. Smoked Eel, Peanuts, Snow Peas, Whipped Caramel, & Lime Soil
Very smoky, satisfying, the caramel absolutely delicious, with the lime soil providing just enough bite/acid to tie it all together. There was some sort of liqueur syrup off to the side that was absolutely disgusting; it killed your palette – stay away from that. Very Good.

7. Spring Lamb, Carob Syrup, Honeydew, & Fava Beans
The master of experimentation *perfectly* cooked this piece of lamb; unfortunately, it lacked the taste of the best specimens. But that’s not necessarily the point @ WD-50 anyways. Some bruschetta was included and it helped tie the honeydew & lamb together, relegating the lamb as a vehicle for texture instead of crazy spring lamb taste. Very Good.

And then desserts – Can Roca, Mugaritz, & WD-50 – Masters of Desserts. As much as I enjoy the food @ WD-50, the desserts are usually better. You can’t find better desserts in America, courtesy of Sam Mason.

8. Cornbread Ice Cream
Captain crunch like (and I mean that in the best way possible), hardly sweet, perfectly creamy. Awesome.

9. Tonka Bean Brulee, Sour Cherry, & Marjoram
No notes for this one, but i remember it tasting pretty good

10. Soft Chocolate, Sesame Ice Cream, Ancho Caramel, & Peanut Powder
A “re-interpretation of mole” – i didn’t get the mole’s earthiness, but there were some spicy elements. Very Good.

11. Pine Needle Jellies
Extremely fragant, soft, and not too sweet. Awesome.

My best Wd-50 meal yet. I need to think about this some more, but this meal resembled Can Roca the most from my European trip (if interested, read my 2 Can Roca (Spain) reviews for similarities.) Some of the techniques and flavors are similar; Can Roca is far more understated in its approach, and ultimately even more successful; but WD-50 took a step up for me w/ this meal and put itself into the upper echelon of the US. It was always one of my favorites from a conceptual POV, but this meal was consistently top tier in both conception and taste.

- chuck