After cancelling plans at Daniel NYC due to the snow (they had a very limited menu based on deliveries not making it), we looked around at a few other options. I had previously eaten at WD-50 before, but my sister hadn’t so I called up and found that they had a table free for an early dinner at 6:30pm.
You can see from their fairly plain entrance that it doesn’t look that special from the outside. In fact, that small glowing neon light (their name) makes it fit into the rest of the neighbourhood. I remember walking past it last time in the heavy rain, so watch the street numbers at the same time.
We got a table that looked out on all the other ones. I felt it worked quite well until someone sat at the table directly next to us and fortunately they sat down as we were on our dessert courses. There’s some booths to the left as well that are kept for larger groups.
Mmmm. Here’s the menu. Not sure who’s lips they are. Maybe they should have had them licking their lips for what was about to come.
Here’s the wafer thin bread they brought for us to snack on. Covered in nutty toasted sesame seeds, it was a nice way to start the snack whilst waiting.
Our first dish, striped bass, gingerbread, plum and pickled ramp played around with a sweet and sour combination with earthy tones provided by the gingerbread sauce on the plate.
Next up was their playful take on a classic dish, the everything bagel, smoked salmon threads, crispy cream cheese. WD-50 is well known for taking classic ingredients and transforming them into things you’d recognise but not quite in the same way. Here, the tiny bagel is actually a small bit of ice cream. We wondered how they got it to look “toasted”. I wasn’t a big fan of the smoked salmon threads by itself, going much better combined with the other ingredients.
Next up, Foie gras, passionfruit, chinese celery. Here, they cleverly stuffed the foie gras with a passionfruit sauce, helping to cut through the richness of the dish.
Here’s another shot after opening the foie gras.
Another strange dish was the scrambled egg ravioli, charred avocado, kindai kampachi. On the side were tiny bits of crispy potato, all looking cut to the same perfection and toasted to a crisp shell. The scrambled egg “ravioli” looked like it’d been shaped in a mold. It wasn’t stuffed with anything though.
When asked about the next dish by our waiter, I told him the truth, that I wasn’t a big fan of the cold fried chicken, buttermilk-ricotta, tobasco honey sauce, and caviar. I really liked certain elements to the dish such as the tobasco honey sauce which I could have eaten all day. It had a kick to it like normal tobasco wouldn’t. The chicken, whilst tasting delicious, didn’t have the crispness you’d hope for a fried chicken. I think the small bits of crispy chicken skin were supposed to make up for it. I guess that’s the thing about experimental food – some things work, others don’t.
This dish was a bit harder to see, bay scallops, bone marrow, parsnip and black sesame. I’m a huge fan of black sesame. In fact, you could almost call me addicted. Here the black sesame formed a paste/sauce on the bottom with the scallops and parsnips on top and the gooey bone marrow grated on top before the whole bowl was heated under a grill. The result was a rich and soft dish with deep meaty flavours.
I think we both agreed our next dish turned out as one of the best, the beef and bernaise. Inverting the textures you’d expect, here we have a deep flavoured beef consomme, surrounding three bernaise dumplings. I savoured each moment slicing a small part of the dumpling that almost oozed as a rich bernaise sauce would as you cut through it. Mmmm.
I’m guessing our next dish was a take on the seasonal offerings, squab breast, cheese pumpkin, corn bread and pickled cranberries. We didn’t have the sharpest knife to cut into the squab. It really needed it too being surprisingly chewy and had to slice.
Desserts next! First up, White beer ice cream, quince, caramel and caraway. Here, the flavours of the beer really came through though well tempered with both sharp and sweet flavours from the quince and caramel.
Curds win me over all the time, so this next dessert turned out my favourite. Here we ate grapefruit curd, campari, hibiscus and sorrel The grapefruit curd is the solid, almost jelly like substance in the middle. Sorrel came in the form of a delicious ice cream with the sheets of hibiscus those rice-paper thin sheets. A mixture of hazelnuts and other crunchy stuff provided the addition of texture.
Almost done, I think the cocoa nibs won my sister over with soft chocolate, beets, long pepper and ricotta ice cream.
Finally as we had our coffee and tea, they finished up with cocoa packets and a milk ice cream coated in chocolate shortbread. The latter tasted like a small ball of cookie and cream, which I guess it is whilst the cocoa packets contained a powder-like crunchy substance that reminded me of milo.
Looking back at the meal, I think we did the best thing by going for the tasting menu. We sampled lots of different combinations and although I think some of the ingredients appealed to me more on the a la carte menu, it’s hard to really guess how a place like WD-50 delivers them. Next time, I would go back to the a la carte and then try the dessert tasting menu.
Found at:50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002