Labour Day Weekend in New York City: WD-50 Tasting Menu

This Labour Day Weekend, we went on a road trip down to New York City for some good shopping and of course, good eats!  Our first meal in the city was a late dinner reservation at WD-50 for some molecular gastronomy.  Since we were late in confirming our trip, I didn't get around to making reservations until Thursday afternoon, which meant we were dining at 10PM!  This at first sounded really late for dinner, but the fact of the matter is, we were shopping the entire day at Woodbury Commons and didn't make it into the city until 8:30PM.  By then, we just wanted to check into the hotel and freshen up before dinner, so the 10PM reservation actually worked out great.  We knew we wanted to have their tasting menu beforehand and worried that we'd be too tired to enjoy the twelve course meal at such a late hour.  Luckily, they were able to keep us pleasantly on our toes for the entire duration leaving us all very much satisfied.

The menu at WD-50.  I thought the usage of a pair of lips as the front cover was very suiting for what lies ahead.

From our table, we could see into the kitchen where the chefs were busy running around preparing each dish.  The kitchen looked so spotless!

Instead of a basket of bread, we were given these to snack on before the first course arrived.  They were paper thin and reminded me of sesame snaps, but much more addictive!

The September tasting menu at WD-50. Nom nom nom!

Our first course: Poached oyster, celery, caper, vodka, lemon.  It was a nice amuse-bouche with the vodka warming up our belly.  At first glance, I thought this would be a cold dish, but the oyster was still warm and the thin strings of celery added a nice touch.  See the little white/clear ovals the oyster is resting on? It's actually vodka lemon beads.

Our second course: Everything bagel, smoked salmon threads, crispy cream cheese.  When it first arrived at our table, we thought the miniature bagel was really cute.  Upon turning it over, we saw that the underside of the bagel was creamy, like someone had already put the cream cheese spread on this tiny bagel.  Biting into it, we realized, this bagel was melting!  It had the consistency of ice cream!  With the smoked salmon dusting, the crispy cream cheese and tiny red onion circles, it filled our mouths with a familiar flavour yet unbelievable texture.

Our third course of the evening: Foie-lafel.  Doesn't it look quaint?  A tiny pita bread, with melt in your mouth foie gras balls dusted with chickpea bits.  And its got the tabouli and shredded lettuce to go with it! Yummmmy!

Our fifth course: Poached egg in the shell, pumpernickel, caesar dressing, bean sprouts.  Yes, you guessed it, the egg shell is actually edible.  It is made of brown sugar, but looks and breaks just like an egg shell would on your plate.  The egg is poached easy so it mixes well with the caesar dressing to add an extra bit of decadence to the sauce.  I thought the parsley added a nice touch, but our friend Wallace who's not a parsley fan would beg to differ.

Our sixth course: King oyster "udon", sweetbreads, banana-molasses, pickled ginger.  We had our reserves when this came to the table.  Personally, I don't like bananas, but I wouldn't indicate that to the restaurant staff for fear it would take from the experience.  Afterall, the whole point of a tasting menu is to trust your chef.  This dish worked out really well, in that they really did slice the King oyster mushrooms to the thickness and length of flat udon noodles, and I thought the pickled ginger and banana-molasses worked really well with it.  The banana taste was barely on your tongue, although for our non ginger fan Wallace, he'd prefer it less gingery.  The added green was a nice touch to offset the sauce as well.  We were pleasantly surprised that the sweetbread had a bit of bounce to them and not your usual soft mush.

Our seventh course: Tai snapper, onion tart, coffee, asian pear.  We thought the coffee-walnut crumb and the bits of cucumber and pear added an interesting touch to the half cooked snapper.  The slight fishiness of the snapper evened out with the onion tart.  Now if only I can figure out how to make that onion tart...

The eighth course of the evening: Quail, nasturtium yogurt, turnip, nutmeg.  The rounds of quail were tender as can be.  We couldn't help but wonder where they got such a big, thick, round piece of meat for such a tiny bird.  The fried turnip was a little strong, but the yogurt was good to even it out, as well as bring out the taste of the quail.

Our ninth course: Lamb loin, 'red beans & rice', chayote squash.  Once again, it was the most tender and juicy piece of lamb I've tasted thus far.  Can you guess where the rice portion of this meal is?  The two crisps!  Now it may seem that rice crisps could be very commonly had, but these crisps actually tasted like fresh steamed rice, but crunchy!  Added to the dish, it provided a nice change of texture with the beans.

Our tenth course: Black sesame, yuzu, mango, popcorn.  This was an interesting bit with the popcorn.  The white clouds are the yuzu and the orange at the bottom of the bowl is the mango puree.

Our eleventh course: Apricot, buckwheat, rhubarb, green tea.  The bigger orange round at the bottom is the apricot jelly, topped with the gobs of green tea mousse.  The pink cubes on the two sides are the rhubarb, and the big brown blob is the buckwheat lying on buckwheat specks.  I'm not too big on rhubarb so I skipped some of that.  The buckwheat was interesting though, because none of us actually knew what to expect, but it helped neutralize the slightly sour apricot.

Our twelfth course: Soft chocolate, beet, long pepper, ricotta.  This dish was a nice touch to top off our evening.  We wondered how the beet would fit in with a dessert dish, but it didn't taste too strong due to its consistency.  The ricotta and pepper helped lessen the richness of the soft chocolate so we were able to finish the dish.  But hey, I'm sure if the boys thought the chocolate was too rich, they didn't need to ask me twice for help!

Our meal ended with rice krispie treats and a ball of lemoniness with a crunchy shell. :) ahhhh need I say more?

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