Feeling nostalgic about the end of an era at WD-50

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The countdown is really on, and it is true: WD-50 will close its doors for the final time on 30 November. And it makes me sad that I won’t get to eat there again, but thankful that I did at least get to experience it once in my life.

I was reminiscing with Twiglet that it was definitely up there in my top 3 meals ever. In fact, I agreed with her, the lunch we’d had a couple of days early at Freemans is up there too. But WD-50 is probably at the top of the tree. I was lucky to share the meal with three fabulous women, and it really was a moment in time, a New York moment in time.

 

How it looks now, but not for much longer

 

There wasn’t a moment of the experience that wasn’t memorable, from the drinks, to the first read of the menu, the first time we got to our table. I’d forgotten how lovely the pH cocktails were, and think I really must have a go at recreating them.

Each course took us by surprise, but it wasn’t poncey, it was fun. Or if it was poncey then we were having too much fun to notice. I remember us thinking that it was clever, but not too clever. I mean the Eggs Benedict and Florentine were just breathtaking (cubed eggs anyone?) but were darned tasty too.

 

Square eggs anyone?

 

The desserts were just beautiful, even if we thought we weren’t going to be able to manage them. But we did. It was a magical evening, and there was no better company than Twiglet, the Nose and Boss Lady No 1, and we’ve all talked about it on several occasions since. Hard to believe it was three years ago this summer.

Hard to believe it will soon be gone.

But I guess that makes it just like great food, here and then gone. Wylie Dufresne has opened another restaurant, Alder, so will just have to go try that one. Or maybe not, maybe it won’t ever live up to the original. But I hope so, and I wish them well, and thank them for giving the four of us an incredible meal and some incredible memories. If you’ve managed to get tickets for any of these last few services then I feel quite envious and hope you too have an incredible evening.

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WD-50 no slippery customer on the eating front!

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I’ve been in my favourite city in the world recently, and although there with the day job, managed to work in some great food adventures. The highlight was most definitely dinner at WD-50, which I have to thank The Nose for, as all four of us agreed that the meal was truly deserving of the term awesome.

Now I won brownie points over The Nose’s other half, who is definitely the man about town, regularly taking his clients out to eat in NYC. And he swore that there was no such place as WD-50, that it couldn’t be any good as he’d never heard of it. Well, of course, those of us back here in Blighty have heard of it as it’s where Tim Anderson cooked during the Masterchef final week. Put it this way, there are a number of his clients who will now be heading in that direction!

 

WD-50 Subtle branding for the greatness beyond the door

There were four of us for dinner, not quite the Brits version of SATC but myself, The Nose, Twiglet and Boss Lady 1. Which meant we were going to get a good selection across the menu, even allowing for The Nose being vegetarian. We were all happy right from the off, with the cocktail menu, enjoying a catch up over a couple of pHs (vodka, raspberry, lychee and rose) and one involving bourbon and Pimms.

This place is cool, but not in an up itself, no fun, intimidating kind of way, you just know that this place has got it going on. And all the people working there that we came into contact with were superb, and very charming. In fact I think Twiglet said “hot” on several occasions. She was the one on the bourbon, mind. Our waiter was hugely knowledgeable, and patient, as we asked questions about the menu, later progressing to questions about the techniques, when dish after amazing dish arrived and just didn’t look like what we were expecting. I mean, this is not your average Eggs Florentine:

 

Eggs Florentine at WD-50. Never seen it done like this before, or since

 

But this is no case of style over substance. The Eggs Benedict version came with super thin crispy ham, the peekytoe crab roll was crisp, delicious and stunning to look at. Then there was the corned duck, something Fray Bentos most definitely don’t make. If I hadn’t got a main course coming, I could have eaten this all over again!

Mains were one of those for me where the choice was impossible, and where great waiting staff really come into play. I asked our waiter for some help to choose between the duck or the lamb. He made the duck sound great, but he made the lamb sound unmissable, and his whole expression was so animated about this dish. I mean, who wouldn’t be intrigued by lamb skirt steak cooked very slowly at low temperature, especially when it comes with pistachio polenta and endive marmalade?

 

Slow cooked lamb skirt steak at WD-50

 

The Nose didn’t have a huge number of vegetarian options, but when you get a parsnip tart this good you don’t need them. This is definitely not going to pass the WI standard for a savoury tart, being very deconstructed, but maybe construction is over-rated, as I am assured it tasted amazing.

 

Parsnip tart at WD-50

 

Should you like things a bit on the spicy side, then Boss Lady 1 had duck. Not spicy in its own right, but kimchi cous cous certainly had a slow burn build up of heat.

 

Duck with kimchi cous cous at WD-50

 

Sadly I have no idea what Twiglet had, nor photographic evidence. I think by this stage we all just wanted to get stuck in. All I do remember is she returned a clean plate to the waiter and declared it truly the best meal in her life. Ever. Even better than when she’d said that at lunchtime the day before, but that’s a different story for another day!

Of course we had to do dessert, although we were struggling a little by this stage, so time to share. What I loved about this food was of course it had molecular magic to it, of course it was incredibly clever and technically brilliant, but it was also just beautifully presented, with amazing taste combinations and textures and just made us “ooo” with delight as each dish arrived. Although sometimes the menu is not the biggest clue on what to expect!

This is Tri-Star strawberries, brown butter, kaffir, pinenut, elderflower:

 

Tri-star strawberries at WD-50

 

Beautiful, light, summery with added crunch of what I think are dehydrated strawberries, with the most intense flavour.

And there had to be chocolate, for Boss Lady 1 and me:

 

Amazing chocolate dessert at WD-50

 

This was like an expensive Italian fashion house of desserts, all shades of taupe, toffee and caramel. The menu says milk chocolate, black bean, plantain, soy, peanut. We said “amazing”. We were running short of superlatives.

If I never eat here again, I will consider myself incredibly lucky to have experienced this once, especially with such fab company. But I’d save up and go again on another trip to NYC like a shot!

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