Eleven Madison Park

January 23, 2017 § Leave a comment

The first and only other time I’d ever been to Eleven Madison Park, temple of gastronomy and world-class service, was as a Cahill summer associate, when the world of fine-dining was still brand new and, frankly, very intimidating to me. Cindy and I finally managed to get a 9:30 p.m. reservation towards the end of our summer and stayed until around 1:00 a.m., after finishing one of the most memorable meals ever.

So it was only fitting that, when Wes was deciding which restaurants he wanted to visit before leaving us for Austin FOREVER, he chose Eleven Madison Park as one of them and rounded up a crew of Cahill’s most delinquent current and former associates for one hell of a dinner. I arrived early and tucked into a Start Me Up – bourbon, rum, strega, honey, ginger, lemon, orange bitters – at the cozy bar (where you can order a shorter tasting menu, first come, first serve) and then we were seated and started with these black and white savory cookie with apple and cheddar, basically a fancified version of Cheez-its (in the most delicious way possible).

Next, a tower of beautiful wooden boxes that slowly revealed parsnip pie; celery root with black truffle; rutabaga with celery and walnuts; salsify with garlic and thyme. The parsnip pie, with its super delicate crust, was particularly delicious.

Caviar Benedict with smoked sturgeon, ham and pickled egg yolk – a supremely elegant and expensive version of an Egg McMuffin, presented in the most beautiful tin, a replica of which we got to take home with us.

Bread course. Note also the Jono Pandolfi ceramics, all of which I wanted to tuck into my bag and take home with me.

Foie gras – seared with Brussels sprouts and lemon. You can choose between a cold terrine and the seared, though to me it’s a pretty obvious choice. It’s a small, perfectly cooked portion of foie jam-packed with flavor and a nice hit of tartness.

Lobster – butter-poached with rutabaga and pear. Gorgeous to look at and the lobster was super sweet and tender. I don’t usually care for fruit in savory dishes but liked the earthiness the pear lended to this dish.

Our next course was a vegetable course of celery root with truffle jus that was prepared table-side a la Paul Bocuse in an inflated pig’s bladder.

The plated celery root braised with black truffle. Deceptively simple looking but for a vegetable course, had all the richness and savoriness of a meat dish. The black truffle jus didn’t hurt either.

A classic EMP dish: duck, honey and lavender glazed with turnip and huckleberry. Stunning and served with some some of the lightest potatoes I’ve ever had. They tried to prematurely clear the dish and I had to reach out my hand to stop the server so I could finish the last couple bites.

Our cheese course of the cutest little cheddar tart with apple and mixed greens. Honestly, at this point, I would’ve been happy to end on this note since I don’t usually really care for dessert but we had a surprise waiting of us.

Baked Alaska, set aflame at the table, with citrus, vanilla and rum

Towards the end of our meal, we were taken on a tour of the kitchen and served the last dessert course – an ice cream with a honey-colored dessert wine made from noble rot (botrytis) grapes. Felt so lucky to have a chance to see the workings of the kitchen (which was beautiful and spotless) and the giant Miles Davis photographs they have hanging on the walls for inspiration.

Fancy food with fancy friends

The wines we’d had that night – we’d opted to order bottles instead of the pairing, which was the right decision. A Keller riesling to start and then two different, fantastic bottles of Clos Rougeard. Our meal finally came to a close with chocolate covered pretzels and a guessing game of which chocolate was made from which milk (cow, goat, buffalo or sheep), which I failed miserably.

No matter – in the end, we all came out feeling like huge winners. Such a wonderful experience, top to bottom, from the warm and friendly staff to the perfect pacing and explanation of each course to the food itself, which was beautiful, whimsical and most importantly, downright delicious. A huge thank you to the Eleven Madison Park for exceeding all expectations once again…I cannot wait to visit again.

The beautiful dining room at the end of the night.

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Sushi Nakazawa

October 2, 2016 § Leave a comment

Dinner at that temple of sushi, Sushi Nakazawa (and as you’ll see below, it really did feel like a temple). I’d been wanting to go ever since it opened to rave reviews but was always too lazy to bother scouring reservations for a decent time at the bar. Finally, near the end of the summer, when I had a serious sushi craving and work was slow, I managed to snag an 8:30 p.m. spot at the 10 seat counter. The reservation was on a Saturday evening, which meant that Chef Nakazawa (of Jiro Dreams of Sushi fame) wasn’t in, but the quality of the food and service was still at the highest level (as it should be, given the price of the omakase).

While the overall experience was wonderful, the general atmosphere seemed a bit stiff to me – the interior was very sleek and modern (almost sterile-feeling), the chefs behind the counter didn’t seem particularly keen to make conversation (even more noticeable since there was no music playing) and the other guests were mostly a well-heeled crowd that seemed to hold the restaurant in such reverence that they weren’t willing to let loose and relax (also, there was a super hip woman wearing a fedora throughout the entire dinner, which I just didn’t understand. I must be getting old). I’m still very glad to have had the chance to go, but given the choice, I’d much rather go to Shuko for dinner, where the food is still perfectly executed (and honestly, more interesting – especially when doing the kaiseki menu) and everyone, guests and chefs, is having a fun time making conversation in a warm and inviting room with Top 40 or old school hip hop blaring in the background.

On the other hand, in addition to the pristine fish, Nakazawa’s sake pairing for $45 is an absolute steal. Compared to some high-end, tasting menu pairings which can set you back another $150 or so (which includes the pairing at Shuko), this was so affordable and I really enjoyed the choices (and the obscenely generous pours). Anyway, see below for the actual courses:

Chum salmon, smoked sockeye salmon, soy marinated salmon

Chefs hard at work

Scallop

Squid

Sea bass

Barrel fish

Spanish mackerel – this was a favorite of mine.

Horse mackerel

Unfortunately, I can’t recall the name of this particular type of fish.

Dungeness crab

Preparing the botan ebi…look at those dimples

Spot prawn – seriously delicious

Skipjack

Trio of tuna from leanest to fattiest

California and Hokkaido uni – always a crowd pleaser

Unagi and the infamous tamago

A lighter sorbet and tea to round out the meal

 

Paris, Part 2

April 25, 2016 § Leave a comment

Second half my Paris re-cap: Vanessa and I ate lots and lots of raw, super fresh oysters throughout our trip. It was crazy how ubiquitous they were and always so delicious (didn’t get a stinker the entire time we were there). Here is a starter before a much heavier meal at seafood-oriented Marius et Janette, right before Dita’s show at Crazy Horse.

We visited the Musee d’Orsay, one of my favorite museums in the world, and got lost in some Impressionist art one afternoon.

Browsed beautiful Astier de Villatte ceramics while shopping on the super luxurious Rue Saint Honore.

Stopped by Cafe de Flore for champagne and potato chips. This is what we loved most about Paris…falling into the leisurely habit of sitting at a sidewalk cafe, people watching and not worrying about where to hurry to next. By the end of the trip, we were total pros.

A crazy good meal at Le Servan, run by sisters Tatiana and Katia Levha, where they’re cooking up some seriously creative and slightly Asian-inflected food in an airy and almost Williamsburg-esque bistro. This was the first time Vanessa had ever had veal sweetbreads (this version was roasted and perfectly tender) and I don’t think she was disappointed.

After Le Servan, we stopped by Prescription for some really great cocktails…I think I had about 10 different kinds of booze this night (something gin + citrus based, their version of a Negroni, their version of a Penicillin, shots of rum and on and on and on) while Vanessa fell in love with their gin + tonics and kept throwing them back. By the time they were closing up shop, we were so hammered that we asked the bartenders for their late night food recommendations and at their suggestion, ended up at a place called Chez Denis in the middle of nowhere that was literally just a bistro open late. Groups of inebriated people were eating full meals with bottles of wine at 5 in the morning and neither of us could comprehend how the French could eat so much but there you have it.

Some more culture…this time at the Musee de l’Orangerie right on the edge of the Jardins des Tuileries, which I’d never visited before. We started with the two stunning circular rooms of Claude Monet’s water lilies, where we just sat there for a long while to take everything in, and then progressed through the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collection.

I also really love works by the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi, so when I found out there was a standalone exhibit of his works and studio near the Centre Pompidou (admission is free, by the way), we popped by for a quick visit (the atelier is only four rooms). I mean…just look at that! I really liked that he was so particular and personally tied to his pieces that he planned exactly which sculpture went where and even refused to sell pieces that were especially dear to him.

Tasting menu at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in the Saint Germain neighborhood. While not as thrilling as I thought it would be (there were also a lot of Americans there, which made it feel more like a tourist destination than anything else), the service was impeccable and some of the dishes were truly standout, such as this chestnut soup with seared foie gras hidden beneath.

A flower vendor on a romantic rainy day…

The awe-inspiring stained glass windows at Sainte-Chappelle on the Ile de la Cite in the heart of Paris.

My crazy-good braised veal cheeks and buttery potatoes at the homey, modest-looking Chez L’Ami Jean. This meal, even though relatively low-key compared to some others we had, was among my favorites. We started with a comforting Parmesan soup that was perfect for the rainy weather, this as a main dish (goddamn, those potatoes) and then the biggest and richest bowl of rice pudding (with candied nuts and salted caramel sauce) that anyone had ever seen. It was also very cool to see the chef Stephane Jego and his cooks plating each dish in the open kitchen.

More art, this time at the relatively new Frank Gehry-designed Louis Vuitton Foundation, which was currently featuring contemporary Chinese artists. Below is a photo of the gorgeous grotto on the lower level.

Our last dinner at David Toutain was another highlight. Everything about the restaurant – the interiors, the ceramics and flatware, the service (our hip-looking server actually lived and worked in Brooklyn for a while) and of course, the food, was incredible. There was a smoked eel dish in black sesame that absolutely blew our minds and the below, perfectly cooked lamb with asparagus and spring vegetables. Amazing. We were so sad our trip was coming to an end.

After dinner, we went to a bar called Le Calbar, where all the friendly bartenders were serving well-made cocktails in their boxers. Yet again, we met some friendly locals and ended up closing down the bar. A great last night out.

Our last day in Paris consisted of a lot of shopping and running errands before our flight. I stopped in Deyrolle, mainly to ogle the gorgeous displays of insects and butterflies, and considering picking up something but couldn’t figure out how to fit a fragile glass frame in my already-stuffed suitcase. So sad.

Sigh…last lunch at our good ol’ Cafe Varenne. It’d become our place for morning coffee and breaks in the middle of the day and now, we were having our last meal of charcuterie, cheese and frites. It was a beautiful sunny day and we got to sit outside and enjoy our last bit of freedom before heading home to New York. It was, all in all, a dream trip where we got to eat and drink extremely well, meet some warm and friendly locals, experience art and culture and most importantly, just relax and soak up the beauty of Paris as much as we possibly could. It was so hard to leave (I was thinking about my next trip on the flight back) and settle back into reality upon our return (though I did pick up some good butter and a jar of cornichons at Murray’s Cheese the morning after I got back) but I know that I will be back soon.

 

The tasting menu at Semilla

December 12, 2015 § 1 Comment

Had a really lovely and vegetable-heavy dinner at the intimate, 18-seat Semilla in Brooklyn (yes, I traveled all the way out to BK) a few months back that surprised and lived up to all of the hype it’s been receiving since it opened. 10 courses with beverage pairings in an intimate setting with friendly, open staff and good Cahill company.

Tomato gazpacho with peaches, rat tail radishes and black olives paired with Cremant d’Alsace, Dirler-Cade, 2012 from Alsace, France. I’d just been telling Chris and Wes that I don’t really like fruit in savory dishes but this cold soup proved me wrong. So flavorful and clean. I also don’t like olives that much and was crazy about them in this dish.

Tomato salad with cucumbers and scallops and stuffed tomato with ricotta and basil with Dupont cidre, bouche brut from Normandy, France. I didn’t get a photo of the cute stuffed tomato but it was pure summer in a bowl and one of the most memorable bites of the night.

Sweet corn chawanmushi with matsutake mushrooms with Grimm, Rainbow Dome, from New York. Perfect balance of sweet and richness, with lots of umami and unctuousness.

Roasted eggplant with pepper leaves and grapes with Gamay, Les Chamins de Traverse, Bachelard, 2013, from Beaujolais, France. The most distinct characteristic of this course was the heavy smoke.

Bread course of Anson Mill’s grits sourdough with Cowbella butter and buttermilk…which I could not stop eating. Buttermilk with butter is a genius idea.

Tomato tart with Feints Cuvee Zero, Ruth Lewandowski, 2013, California/Utah. Also deceivingly simple but everyone really loved this dish. I have no idea what was in the crust but it reminded me of a Cheez-it (my favorite childhood snack) and was kind of mind-boggling to have it paired with floral shiso.

Lobster mushrooms with corn and mole with Chenin Blanc, Els Bassots, Escoda Sanahuja, 2013, Conca de Barbera, Spain.

Another reminder of childhood – peaches, saffron & bitter almond. Growing up in a Chinese family, the only dessert we’d ever serve (other than straight up fruit) was almond jello that came in a packet served with fruit cocktail. Think of this as a highly refined, delicious version.

Tarragon profiterole with wild blueberry and buttermilk with Chinato Americano, Vergano, from Piemonte, Italy. To be honest, I wasn’t crazy about the tarragon/anise-y element but it was still a nice end to a meal that surpassed expectations and showed how creative cooking with vegetables can be (we really did not miss the meat at all). Would definitely visit again, especially since chefs Jose Ramirez-Ruiz and Pamela Yung change the menu according to the seasons.

The Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle

August 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

In early July, I was lucky enough to take part in an event called the Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle, a one-time only dinner where 37 of the world’s top chefs switched restaurants (and lives) for a single night. We wouldn’t even find out which chef drew Momofuku Ko (the venue we chose – other NYC restaurants included Mission Chinese Food and Blanca) from the lottery until the night of the dinner itself but I had chosen Ko out of the three New York locations due to its awesome interior and at-the-counter dining format. However, on the day of, some early sleuthing – Gelinaz had provided a posting wall for each restaurant and there were some hints (rainbow cookies from Carbone, red-white-green lasagna components) posted the morning of the event – as well as a too-conveniently timed Instagram post at Union Square Greenmarket had Chris, my co-diner, and me freaking out that it might just be Massimo Bottura, chef at Osteria Francescano in Modena, #2 restaurant on this year’s San Pellegrino’s best restaurants list.

Lo and behold, when we finally arrived at Ko, we were greeted with an enormous wheel of 27 month old Parmigiano Reggiano, a bottle of Massimo’s proprietary Villa Manadori Balsamico 2014 and refreshing spice-infused pink grapefruit and campari cocktails. And because I am lazy, below are photos of each course with just whatever notes I can recall months later but needless to say, it was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of a meal chock full of intriguing, beautiful and above all, seriously delicious, food and Massimo was as charming, funny and warm as he seems on Chef’s Table (which I highly recommend you go and watch, available on Netflix):

Signed menu and personalized place settings

Massimo explaining his approach to the menu for the night and showing a component of his lasagna course

Corn off the Cob in Textures and Temperatures,
paired with Shimaoka Shuzo ‘Izumi’ from Yamahai, Junmai, Gunma, Japan
the essence of summer and so rich and flavorful

Wylie Dufresne of the dearly departed WD-50 joining us to explain his course, “Shrimp & Grits a la Wylie”

His “shrimp and grits”,
paired with Dom Perignon 2004

One of my favorite courses of the night: Naples to New York passing through Hokkaido,
paired with Villa Bucci Riserva 2010 from Marche, Italy,
pasta tossed in the richest uni sauce with smoked clams to evoke spaghetti alla carbonara and black-out good

The famous lasagna dish: Spaghetto wants to be the Crunchy Part of Lasagna with Bone Marrow and Bolognese
paired with Punta Crena 2013 from Liguria, Italy,
evoked the highly coveted corner piece of the lasagna which Massimo said was prized among children in Italy but ramped up with fatty, fatty marrow

Plating the lasagna with his trusty lieutenant, Taka

Beautiful Sonic Disco of Love and Hate at the Gate of Hell Painting with Wicked Pools of Glorious Color and Psychedelic Spin-Painted Lamb, Not Flame Grilled
paired with J.F. Mugnier 2006 from Burgundy, France
Yes, that is the name of the dish (the inspiration was art by Damien Hirst) and yes, it was as amazing to eat as it was to look at.

Massimo plating the Salad in Bloom course

Salad in Bloom
paired with Acqua Panna (a.k.a., fancy water) from Tuscany, Italy
Perfect palate cleanser and possibly the first dessert salad ever. Loved sommelier Jordan Salcito’s explanation for choosing water as the pairing and it made perfect sense.

Shaved Foie Gras, Three Cherries…Three Acidities
paired with Vollenweider 2008 from Mosel, Germany
Massimo’s take on Ko’s famous foie gras dish with pine nut brittle and Riesling gelee
(I actually liked his version more than the original thanks to the candied almonds and tartness of the cherries =X)

Oops I Broke the Cannolo as an Apple Pie
paired with Marco de Bartoli from Sicily, Italy
a mash-up of cannoli and apple pie, bringing together the best of American and Italian desserts

The super talented and hard working brigade who put up such an amazing meal

North wants to be South
A super refined version of pizza that we couldn’t get enough of!

All of the beverage pairings from the night along with Massimo’s book, “Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef”

minibar by Jose Andres

April 5, 2015 § 1 Comment

Took a short vacation in DC at the end of February and got to enjoy a super-fun, whimsical meal at minibar by Jose Andres with Ameya, my dining partner-in-crime for the weekend. Just 6 seats at the counter, 4 hours and a slew of small courses and wine tastings. Once again, I’m too lazy to go into descriptions for each of the dishes but highlights were the almond tart with blue cheese, the “burger” with wagyu and uni, the crispy, fatty vietnamese pig ear balanced with pickled vegetables and chili oil, the andalucian tofu (which was really an almond garlic gazpacho treated to have the texture of silken tofu) and ultra rich shabu shabu, the iberico tendon, the refreshing palate cleanser called “first frost” and the gorgeous breakfast in hokkaido dessert. Favorite part was probably watching the chefs prepare each dish with perfect choreography and engaging with them and the other diners. For our dessert courses, they also took us into barmini, the swank cocktail bar next door, where Murphy joined us and we indulged in more tasty libations (such a smart move on their part). If you can get a reservation for either venue, you’re seriously one lucky (foie-gras stuffed, rubber) ducky.

The luxe entrance way, where we were greeted with a glass of cava and a book of dried edible flowers

hot and cold pisco sour; parmesan canele; pineapple shortbread; pizza Jose’s way – 2012 Dr. Herman Urziger Wurtzgarten Riesling from Kabinett Mosel, Germany

almond tart with blue cheese; rubber ducky – 2013 Tenuta Delle Terre Nere Etna Rosato from Randazzo, Italy

late-night chicken shawarma – bodegas hidalgo manzanilla la gitana “en rama” from sanlucar de barrameda, spain

burger

vietnamese pig ear – pain killer (dark rum, roasted coconut milk, pineapple and orange)

fusilli – 2013 abbazia di novacella pinot grigio valle from iscaro alto adige, italy

andalucian tofu + shabu shabu – sho-une junmai dai ginjo hakutsuru sake from kobe, japan

iberico tendon – 2013 domaine de roches neuves thierry from germain saumar champigny loire, france

espardenyes with bone marrow – 2013 guimaro mencia from riberia sacra, spain

squab and oysters – 2002 r. lopez de heredia vina tondonia from rioja, spain

bonne bouche cheese puff; first frost; breakfast in hokkaido – 2012 oremus late harvest tokaji

sesame pocki; raspberry chocolate bar; yuzu-mallow; raspberry wasabi bon bon; eat the rocks; doughnuts; boozy bear – amaro from montenegro, italy

A delicious cucumber gin-based cocktail at barmini; old friends

WD-50, the new menu

August 1, 2012 § 1 Comment

Finally, a moment to catch my breath. I’m so behind on posting all the restaurants from this glorious NYC summer but thought it’d be nice to start with one of my favorite meals, the new tasting menu at WD-50 by Wylie Dufresne. It was surprisingly easy to get a reservation on relatively short notice and proved to be a good bonding experience with fellow food-obsessed summers and the odd associate.

To start, we began with some sesame crisps and an excellent beer from Brooklyn Brewery/Amacord called AMA Bionda recommended by our kickass server James, who was knowledgeable and great at explaining each of our dishes to us throughout the night without being dull or pretentious. In fact, the restaurant as a whole had a very casual atmosphere that didn’t leave you feeling self-conscious like at some other “fine-dining” establishments.

On to the real food! Our first course: mackerel, nigiri, salsify, seaweed and sesame. Nigiri, but not. The salsify, a root vegetable, was blitzed in a food processor and then mixed with hazelnut oil and other binders so it assumed the familiar texture of sushi rice and was blanketed with a pristine piece of cured fish. Gorgeous, isn’t it? It was a pretty compelling bite and even after 11 more courses, remained Christine’s favorite of the night.

Next: lobster roe, charred lemon, green grape, coriander-brown butter. Roe usually brings to mind fish eggs, but here, I believe it was pounded, spread into sheets, steamed, and cut into strands of “pasta.” Initially, it seems a bit gimmicky, but the sea flavors of the roe do come through and pair very well with the rich lobster, sweet grape, biting lemon and slightly nutty brown butter.

Course #3: pho gras, a luxurious play on the Vietnamese comfort food. Off center lay a generous slice of foie gras, accompanied by rice noodles and the usual pho accompaniments – hoisin, sriracha, lime juice. As the server poured the broth, the foie gras slowly slid into the bowl and the air was filled with star anise, cinnamon, and other traditional Asian spices. It strongly reminded me of the smells emanating from my mom’s kitchen when she makes her Chinese five spice pork belly. The deep fried bit of beef tendon, a fun take on the traditional chicharron, was a nice contrast with the silky liver and slippery noodles. This dish and the following were probably my favorite savory dishes due to their comfort level yet refinement.

Next up, amaro yolk, chicken confit, peas n’ carrots, another creative and mind-blowing take on comfort food. There were a lot of comments at the table about its striking similarity to chicken pot pie and I definitely had to agree. I still dream about this yolk sometimes, which stayed perfectly intact (no whites) until you eagerly busted it open with your fork and it had a thicker, richer texture than your typical duck egg yolk. The chicken confit was packed with flavor and very tender, but honestly, you could not get my mind off that yolk. Even the ingenious take on “peas,” which were carrots covered in dehydrated pea powder would not distract me.

Veal brisket, za’atar, plum, and mustard. The veal was very thinly sliced and came with scallions, plums, and interesting mustard wafers, which melted on the tongue after the first crunchy bite. The za’atar, a mix of Middle Eastern herbs and spices, went nicely with the rest of the dish and didn’t overpower the almost delicate brisket.

The next dish, though still delicious, was probably one of my least favorites, most likely due to the kaffir-yogurt (which Bert likened to bathroom sanitizer, in a good way). It certainly took a while to get used to and I think it was almost on the verge of drowning out the flavor of the sweet peekytoe crab and delicate rice puffs.

Another dish – sole, black licorice pil pil, fried green tomato, and fennel – that threw me off but was nonetheless very well executed. The fish was cooked absolutely perfectly and I loved the crunch of the somewhat random little fried green tomato. The two pil pil sauces (originating from the Basque region of Spain), a classic and then a black licorice take, balanced against the anise-y flavor of the pickled fennel and fennel fronds. I was pretty skeptical about this dish before trying it because of the licorice element, but with each additional bite, it started to grow on me.

Lamb sweet breads, nasturtium-buttermilk, zucchini, pistachio. I’d just had some amazing “buffalo” sweet breads at Recette about a week before, so the bar was high for these babies and Dufresne did not disappoint. I still have no idea how the dish was put together and what exactly a nasturtium is (flower maybe?), but everything melded beautifully, with the creaminess of the sweet breads contrasted against the crunch of the pistachio brittle.

Root beer ribs, rye spaetzle, and apricot. Overwhelmed with deliciousness yet? Well, here’s the last savory dish, a no-holds-barred heritage pork rib that’s been bound into a cylinder, smoked, and then drizzled with that root beer infused pork jus. This is meat at the highest level. The rye spaetzle served as a very earthy foundation and the sweetness of the dried apricot only served to bring out further the smokiness of the pork. Heaven.

Whew. Time for a pre-dessert palate cleanser – jasmine, cucumber, honeydew, chartreuse. Pastry chef Malcolm Livingstone’s first creation left us feeling ultimately refreshed, composed of chartreuse foam, a frozen film of cucumber, an almost bacon-y tasting cashew crumble, and then, after cracking the cucumber ice, more jasmine cream, honeydew and chartreuse, and cucumber ice cream. Wow.

Official dessert #1 was the dish of yuzu milk ice, hazelnut, rhubarb, and basil. Basil puree, strawberry and citrus reduction, hazelnut crumble, and on top, the lightest, fluffiest-looking yuzu ice cream ever. Which slowly worked our way up to…

The most outrageous, most ridiculously indulgent approach to s’mores that I’ve ever seen. Vaguely remember a lot of “wtf’s” and “omg’s” happening at the table as these were set down in front of us. I may have also blacked out briefly after the first bite. Two sauces – one, an acidic black currant sauce and the other, a chili hot cocoa – and generous shmears of torched meringue around the edge of the plate. In the center, the graham cracker and meringue ice cream, whipped and airy on the inside and torched and crisped on the outside so it really resembled and tasted like a toasted marshmallow, but on steroids.

Finally, the perfect end to a helluva meal – a single bite of gjetost, a Scandinavian whey cheese, surrounded by a thin shell of white chocolate and coated with tart raspberry. At this point, I would’ve been happy to just pass the eff out with my stomach full of, in my mind, the world’s most delicious food, but through Bert’s name-dropping, we managed to also finagle a tour of the kitchen.

The shot of chefs plating at the pass is probably my favorite from the entire evening (though the one directly above is a close second, thanks to Christine for the photo!). The kitchen was still manically plating dishes during our tour, so we had to make sure we kept out of the way, but it was stunning to see the inner workings of a top restaurant kitchen. In the end, we all had a truly amazing, memorable time and could not thank the chefs at WD-50 and especially our awesome server, James, enough! If WD-50 is on your list (and it better be), make your reservations ASAP! There’s also a menu called “From the Vault” which offers 5 courses for $75 (the 12 course tasting was $155), comprised of classic WD-50 dishes.

WD-50
50 Clinton Street
New York, NY
212.477.2900

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