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#1 Orik

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Posted 24 April 2004 - 05:03 AM

The least well executed meal there so far, further supporting evidence to that the kitchen works better when WD is away. Go on Sundays.

Started with Manila clams, sake noodles, kimchee paper - an excellent dish, with the sake flavor working very successfully with the clams. A relatively large bit of candied citrus peel was uncalled for.

Corned duck, rye crisp, etc. - nice as always

Rabbit sausage - had this dish about 5 times by now. Today it was drowned in salt. Surely the restaurant must have known, so I can't see why they chose to serve it.

Venison tartare - perhaps to match the rabbit, sprinkled with too generous amounts of salt, which I didn't like with the sweet pear flavors. Edamame ice cream, maybe because of the salt, seemed sweeter than usual.

(these two were comped, but it took a good 15 minutes for the bus boy and utterly incompetent waiter to figure it out)

Duck breast and lamb loin were their usual selves, as was the roasted banana, curry, chocolate ice cream dessert.

The restaurant should know that if you made your way through a bottle of mineral water, you'd like another one (or to be asked), not glasses of tap water.

A sort of ok bottle of valpolicella, I forget which one.
I never said that

#2 beachfan

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Posted 24 April 2004 - 06:15 AM

Ate there tonight, got a good plus meal.

Started with the gambon shrimp. A top dish that I haven't had before.
I had the manilia clams, sake noodles. Very good dish, but not the dimensionality I like from WD
Then I had a new dish, skate with mustard noodles and fried potato broth. While this successfully caputred the french fry aroma they were shooting for, the mustard noodles weren't piquant at all. It reminded me of fish and chips. I thought it needed something like malt vinegar gelee. So this was an good but not special dish other than capturing the french fry aroma.

My wife had the squash soup sans scallop cous cous (she's a vegetarian). They substituted cubed squash which worked very well for her.
The dish of the night was an off menu item for her, grapefruit salad with dehydrated capers, fresh and dehydrated grapefruit, some other stuff and roquefort foam. Just when I thought foam was becoming boring, this stuff was great and the dish was the brilliant Wyliesque combination that I love.
She had the root vegetable lasagne which had a fabulous sweet/sour muhroom broth But the root vegetables themselves were sort of dull.

Deserts were very good (roasted bannana wih milk chocolate ice cream) and excellent (pineapple variations, several pineapple concoctions on a plate).

A very nice Gavi di Gavi by the glass (castelleri bergaglio rovereto 2001), followed by a pleasant Beaume de Venies red 2000 (I forget which).

Service and hospitality made this overall a very nice evening even if the meal wasn't like the brilliant tasting menus I had before.

#3 Miguel Gierbolini

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 06:10 PM

Anyone else with comments about this joint? Is there a "can't miss" dish? I will be there on a Wylie-less Sunday. Soon.
"I mispoke."

#4 Wilfrid1

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 06:15 PM

I don't know if anyone has repoets (of their own) they first posted elsewhere. I dom't have access to mine.
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#5 Miguel Gierbolini

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 06:17 PM

I dom't have access to mine.

I saw yours somewhere, I forget where.
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#6 Cynthia

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 06:21 PM

I had a great meal there recently, and one item that's really standing out as a suggestion is the rabbit loin ceviche. Luscious.

#7 Miguel Gierbolini

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 07:21 PM

rabbit loin ceviche. Luscious.

I don't see this in their website menu. Is that part of their tasting menu?
"I mispoke."

#8 Orik

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 07:28 PM

Don't have access to my report either.

With few exceptions (a langoustine dish served as part of the tasting menu and most desserts), I liked most dishes there. Overall, I tend to prefer their meat entrees to the fish, I know others disagree (particularly with respect to the halibut with smoked potatoes).

You may wish to consider ordering two rounds of appetizers before your entree as an alternative to the tasting menu. Also, if they're not too busy, they're likely to agree to serve you the 65 celsius egg dish a la carte.
I never said that

#9 Miguel Gierbolini

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 07:34 PM

the 65 celsius egg dish a la carte.

Can you describe this?

Two appetizers sound like a good idea.
"I mispoke."

#10 Wilfrid1

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 07:36 PM

Cod with smoked mashed potatoes - yes, a sensational dish, and I'm a carnivore. I agree with Orik - two courses of appetizers is a good idea if you don't commit to the tasting. Menu seems to be evolving - I haven't seen the rabbit loin ceviche before. Certainly try to get the egg. It's also worth trying the controversial foie gras/anchovies/bitter chocolate appetizer, the barely cooked langoustine, the pork belly.
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#11 eatpie

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 07:39 PM

Cant go wrong whenever Duck or Lamb are on the WD menu. In various preparations, both are out of this world. Wylie has been serving a slow cooked egg in a Parmesan broth. I dont think its on the menu. It usually goes out as a middle course to regulars/friends and apparently in some tasting menus. It is probably my favorite dish of 2004. See if one can coax the waiter into getting a sample.

I must have missed the original WD thread...why are people suggesting to dine at WD on a night when Wylie is not there?
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#12 Miguel Gierbolini

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 07:50 PM

why are people suggesting to dine at WD on a night when Wylie is not there?

that what Orik suggested in his post initiating this thread.

Thanks for your comments. I am intrigued by this egg dish.
"I mispoke."

#13 lxt

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 08:05 PM

I don't know if anyone has repoets (of their own) they first posted elsewhere. I dom't have access to mine.

Wilfrid, are you nervous? :P


Somehow I missed this thread. This is what I posted on eG three months ago. I would strongly recommend ordering chef’s tasting the first time, as I found that it was quite easy to go wrong on your own with Dufresne’s creativity. This way you'll have a chance to get a broader overview of the cuisine. Also, the kitchen is pretty flexible, and there should be no problem adding/excluding/replacing a dish or two, in case you are interested in anything in particular. The portions are small, and I really wish WD50 would start serving bread to avoid most of the complaints from dissatisfied, “still-hungry” diners.
-----------------------------------------------------

There was no one to greet us as we walked into the dark, small room, with bare tables and exposed dark-wood ceiling beams, lacking ceremony or formality, stiff demeanor or any vibe of elitism imposed by a strict ceremonial dress code or stuffy clientele. Reminiscent of a fancy diner, illuminated by elongated, colored glass lamps, producing a dimmed glow and barely highlighting the contemporary art on the walls, the place lent a very distinct sense of being a neighborhood, around-the-corner hangout. It is only when one finds himself toward the back of the restaurant, closer to the stunning open kitchen, and has a chance to observe the precise movements and all the elaboration behind the scenes, that the sense of great monumentality and solidity behind the superficial noise of the dining room, swarmed with a deceivingly young crowd, takes over. In a matter of several minutes we were finally taken care of and led to a table toward the back of the restaurant where we had a chance to observe the kitchen in all its glory. While awaiting my daughter, who was supposed to join us any minute but was detained, we leisurely browsed through the menu and chose a seven-course tasting and one extra dish.

After we were teased by a stellar amuse, the next several dishes didn’t provoke any impulse to return right away until…But let me start from the beginning.

Sweet Maine shrimp, sauce gribiche.
A pale-pink raw shrimp was curled in a shape of a well, filled with airy yogurt and flakes of tarragon and capers, a tall, dry and crispy shrimp head sticking up from the center as a mast, and was lightly dusted with dry chicken-egg-yolk powder. The sauce, in fact, was a deconstructed gribiche, where the process of amalgamation of ingredients presented separately on the plate took place in your mouth with each bite. The dish had neither austerity nor pomp -- a tender, but plump shrimp, bathed in a shaft of its porcelain perfection, traded attention for the fluffy, whipped yogurt infused with smoked eel stock. This was a very good dish. The unexpected, smoky taste of the yogurt, slightly offset by the almost neutral-tasting egg powder, was intense by not intrusive. The dish showed enough frivolity and, at the same time, an exceptional lightness of touch. It was clever and simply delightful!

Foie gras/anchovy terrine, citrus chutney, tarragon.
“Wonderful!” said my daughter as I was deeply into my plate struggling with this dish. I raised my eyebrows, as I couldn’t find the right balance that would satisfy me, trying to manipulate foie and anchovies with either acidic/very lightly sweet citrus chutney or soft-and herbal-tasting tarragon purée splashed on the plate. The six overlapping pieces of halved anchovies, well-dried from their marinade and simply placed on top of the rectangular bulk of terrine, with nothing to bind them to the smooth, creamy foie, contributed a very strong salty/sour taste competing with another level of sourness lent by the citrus chutney. So what was the word “wonderful” applied to? As I looked at my daughter’s plate, I saw the anchovies lovingly piled in the corner. “Just push them aside,” said she, “and it’ll be wonderful,” …and it was! The biting, aromatic intensity of orange, the ravaging sourness of lemon and the very mild sweetness of foie couldn’t offset the fishiness and the distinctive vinegary acidity of anchovies. I didn’t find this dish either interesting or challenging. To me, without the anchovies, the dish was more appealing.

Smoked eel, cucumber, pumpkin seed, lime chip.
Three small, rectangular, flat pieces of cold-smoked eel, almost hidden under the generously sprinkled coarsely chopped roasted pumpkin seeds and a stunning fan of thin lime chips, were dancing around cucumber spaghetti twirled into a roll -- yet another smoky dish, adding a different perspective to the tasting menu. The saltiness and acidity of the eel was very well offset by the earthy pumpkin seeds, lending a slightly sweet overtone, but the real surprise came with the lime chips. Delicate and fragile, broken with irregular thin-stripe patches revealing a honey, whitish-buff, transparent surface, the façade of the dried lime was reminiscent of a veil, a laced curtain, a gentle lens through which the world would acquire the grace of its colors. One bite, however, and a strident, vociferous bitterness and acidity struck the palate with its full force, showing a remarkable disparity between the look and the taste. The wet cucumber, saturated with crème fraiche remained fresh and slightly crunchy, escaping sogginess from the moisture. To some extent, this dish echoed the previous amuse, but without foie gras, a more classical combination of the smoked fish/lemon/cucumber, so much loved in Finland and Russia but with a little twist, was much more pleasant, in our opinion. This was an interesting, nice, but not a spectacular appetizer.

Rabbit sausage, avocado, grainy mustard paper.
Two cylinders of rabbit sausage separated by a tall, irregularly shaped mustard chip were positioned right in the center of the avocado purée splashed across the plate. A tiny rack of rabbit a bright-green bean sprout leaf with baby “berries” at the bottom of the branch, and a piece of preserved, dark-orange apricot, lonely dwelling alone to the side, completed the composition. I didn’t have the impression that the sausage was made of ground meat. The distinct marbling, coming from the infiltrated herbs, separated pale chunks of rabbit, with a center piece of dark-pink squab meat and another side chunk of dry apricot. The sausage lent a wild taste, it was not overseasoned, so that a very thin and delicate in texture, though spiky and biting, “freckled” mustard chip punctuated the meat well. The smoothness of avocado and sweetness of apricot added a nice leveled and sweet contrast. An adorable, tiny pickled rabbit rib brought strident notes of acidity along with its tender meat. This appetizer was interesting, but by that time, I was getting a little tired of the pickled taste in my mouth.

Sardine, lentils, soy caramel, nori froth.
I didn’t enjoy this dish much. One lightly warm sardine was positioned in the center of the plate, with lentils, mixed with apples and hidden under the bubbles of nori, touching one end of the fish encircled in the caramel. The sardine had a slightly fishy taste, with perhaps some acidity offset by the sweet lentils and even sweeter caramel sauce. In fact, the sweetness of the caramel sauce overshadowed the sardine taste, and when eaten together, the dish was not bad.

Langoustine, celery noodles, shiitake, toasted rice broth.
“Now we’re talking,” said my consort, carefully biting on the pinkish flesh of a plump, meaty, springy and astonishingly sweet raw creature. This dish was simply fantastic! It was the breakthrough of the evening, and from that moment on, each subsequent dish was an astounding revelation worth many returns.

Elaborately composed, this small intimate dish was filled with a wealth of closely observed details. A large langoustine, resting on a hill of shredded celery coquettishly peeping out through the plump body, was bathed in a transparent, thin rice broth, producing a tantalizing smell of toast and smoke. A crown of pearly-blue, perfectly shaped, medium-sized langoustine caviar, and sprinkles of dry, bright-green celery straws enveloping one side of the body, completed the composition. This was the first time I tried this caviar. Not salty, with slightly crunchy texture, and a mild, non-fishy, non-bitter flavor, it exuded an air of aristocratic beauty with its monochromatic but opulent bluish-gray “clothing” adding to the dish a spark of marvelous energy. The celery brought freshness and created a nice background for the exceptional sweetness of the langoustine, which chef Dufresne gets from New Zealand. The most interesting component of the dish was its broth. Just slightly salted water, infused with an intense, distinct flavor of toasted rice and a strong woody taste of dry shiitake mushroom hidden inside the celery comprised a perfect balance to accompany the sweet, raw langoustine. This excellent dish was a carefully structured composition with a calm, balanced mood.

Slow poached egg, parmesan broth, tomato powder.
I was not looking forward to this dish and was a little upset that I didn’t ask for a copy of the tasting menu in advance and replace the eggs. When one consumes the same product regularly for an extended period of time, there is always a possibility that the magic, the expectation, the seductiveness would fade and turn into comfort, necessary nourishment, stripped of mystery and anticipation. I was raised on eggs with caviar. In fact, in one of my earlier posts I said: “The lingering taste of egg that is always present independently of what technique is utilized to prepare it can never give me enough sense of luxury that the texture of the egg or the fancy accompaniments could otherwise suggest. Neither caviar nor truffles can bring eggs to the next level of sophisticated dining experience for me, and are similar to blini, which will never rise above being just tiny pancakes from the nearest Deli even if served with caviar.”

I never thought the day would come when I would have to take my words back. This slow-poached egg was not only exceptionally good; this dish had a revolutionary effect on me.

A deep bowl held a chubby, plump egg, swimming in thin broth. The egg was topped with grated cheese ( “peppered” with bloody-red tomato powder) and baby chives resembling long, thin grass with black, round seeds at the root. The velvety egg white, looking like a sumptuous silk “suit,” was cushiony and fluffy with a tender and melting texture. As the spoon penetrated its surface, it broke into the soft, bulging, almost fluorescent bright-yellow belly, causing the flavors to explode with razor-sharp vibrancy from the liquid egg yolk released into the broth. Neither the warm-water broth nor the egg were seasoned when tried separately. It was the sharp parmesan cheese that provided the strong-flavored, salty finish as it melted into the broth (hence parmesan broth) and amalgamated with the egg. This dish was clever, brilliant and startling with dynamic, vibrant and visionary swirling forms. It had “signature dish” written all over it.

At that time, Dewey, the father of chef Dufresne and the General Manager of the restaurant, approached our table inquiring about our impressions of the dish. Casually dressed, which fit the overall restaurant atmosphere, he presented himself as a man with soft manners, sharp and knowledgeable. I couldn’t help but to share my astonishment at how this dish broke my stereotype of egg dishes. As it appeared, the egg is cooked at a very low temperature of 100-125 degrees in the shell for an hour to produce the fluffy texture of its exterior (Dewey’s description differed somewhat from the service staff’s version which was a 140 degree temperature and 35 minute(?) cooking time). The egg is cooled in the refrigerator until it is time to serve it. It is then quickly heated at a high temperature, spooned out of the shell and voila, the dish is ready.

A quick introduction, a gentlemanly compliment (which I took with gratitude and pleasure), and a generous offer to have a kitchen tour after dinner. After that, despite the crowded room, Dewey stopped by with each subsequent course, which was greatly appreciated by all of us.

Cod, smoked mashed potatoes, pickled mushrooms, red pepper oil.
Another dish; another success. This dish was somewhat different from all of the previous courses -- it was slightly heavier stylistically. Perhaps the notion of mashed potatoes enforces the feeling of comfort and gives a rustic air to a dish. Cod is one of my favorite fish, especially in the wintertime when its delicate, sweet flesh stands out. I like it to be cooked just before the flakes separate, so that when the fork pierces the flesh, there still prevails a certain level of solidity. It is then that the original flavor and the spirit of the fish are intact, and the texture is heavenly. My cod was just slightly overdone, according to my preferences, and the dish certainly lost its potential heights. However, the pleasant surprise came with smoked potatoes and sweet red pepper oil, wonderfully offsetting the strident flavors of smoked potatoes and pickled mushrooms.

The skinless fillet of cod was positioned in the center between the blob of mashed potatoes, which were supported from the side by the pickled, very vinegary mushrooms, and a puddle of brightly red-orange pepper oil thickened with red-pepper powder(?). Several crisp pieces of cod skin topped the mushrooms and brought a final touch of silver shade to the dish. I didn’t care much for the mushrooms: The vinegary taste was certainly intentional, but a bit too strong for my palate. The mashed potatoes, however, were surprisingly good. Though the texture was quite ordinary, they had a very strong, hearty smoked flavor. In fact, it seemed as though all the smokiness from the previous courses culminated in this one mass of off-white cloud. If tried separately, the potatoes tasted like double smoked bacon. However, when combined with the cod, they acquired a slightly fishy taste (in a positive way). Later, Dewey explained that the idea implemented in this dish was a flip-flop of a Scandinavian “smoked haddock mashed potatoes” dish. It was clever and certainly worked. The potatoes are smoked in the electric smoker until turned into a dry powder (“You certainly know that the best mashed potatoes are made from dry potatoes,” added Dewey while explaining the process to us). The potatoes are then simply mixed with cream and butter and are ready to be served.

I wouldn’t be surprised if in the near future I’ll hear about Dufresne’s potatoes in the same manner as we refer to Robuchon’s potatoes now.

Squab, encrusted golden beets, sweet potato juice.
This dish was simply superb and a perfect conclusion to our savory courses. Two buttery-tender medallions of delicate, succulent and velvety, almost raw squab breast separated by a piece of strongly-flavored crispy skin positioned in between, rested in a puddle of a thick, sweet potato liquid whose vibrant, warm, brown tones created a dynamic, visionary motif, and whose sweetness subdued a whiff of that wild-game taste. The sweetness of the sauce was perhaps a little too intense but wonderful nevertheless.

Two fingers of golden beets “dressed” in a thick cloak of fine pomegranate-red beet flakes (made through dehydration) were set on one side of the plate. It didn’t seem that the only purpose of the beets was in complementing the squab, but rather in presenting a counterpart that would compete at the same level of forcefulness as the meat. The beets were excellent, and while I contemplated on its honey-sweet, crunchy nature, my daughter gently asked whether I was going to finish my second “finger.” What wouldn’t we do for our children!

I’ve noticed how much my perspective on and taste in desserts change when I don’t have sweets for a long time. I restricted myself in sugar for several months, and surprisingly, at some point, I completely lost interest in that part of gastronomic indulgence. In fact, I could take just a bite, evaluate the dessert, and put my fork down without any temptation to see the bottom of the plate. With a long restrain comes a new, more sensitive way of receiving sugary objects: The desserts generally taste too sweet, and the balance, to fit your preferences, is harder to find.

If there should be a destination place for a leisurely evening with smashing desserts, it must be WD50. I was simply smitten not only by the mastery of composition and perspective or the clever touches, so wonderfully continuing the general theme of the restaurant, but by how remarkably good it tasted.

We started with the Tangerine, olive oil, honey dessert.
This was a perfect buffer between the savory courses and the other desserts: Refreshment that could serve as a palate cleanser but was too good to be reduced to just that function. The sunrise dance of vibrant orange colors of this dish evoked a dynamism, swirling with pulsating energy, contrary to its gentle, cooling, tranquil flavors embodying bucolic peacefulness.

A bright-orange tangerine sorbet set on several fresh tangerine petals was topped with a transparent, shiny-gold honey caramel “blanket” and surrounded by several gelatinized honey cubes resting on drops of olive oil. Several fresh anise seeds, sprinkled throughout the plate, brought a strong, distinct spark of licorice. The olive oil offset and smoothed the anise wonderfully. This was a very intriguing composition with stunning colors and sensual tastes.

Coffee soil, butternut sorbet, basil.
“How do you like eating mud?” asked Dewey of my daughter. This was the most memorable dessert I have had in the past year: a taste sensation that was intellectually and sensually stimulating. Bite into it, and savor a surprisingly finely balanced contrast with a remarkably uninterrupted flow of flavors as natural as the idea of squash dwelling on soil. Simple and elegant, it stated serenity and lyrical fluency. With a very undemanding subject and a restricted “palette” of ingredients, the dish achieved a range of subtle effects.

Ground espresso with a smoked, earthy taste (mixed with crushed almonds, a little bit of flour, sugar and salt) was grainy and visually undistinguishable from soil. It served as a bed for soft curves of only slightly sweet, bright-orange-yellow butternut sorbet that seemed to have the most intense flavor of freshly baked butternut squash. An espresso/caramel sheet covered the sorbet, and a half-circle of gently sweet basil sauce with a very distinct basil flavor completed the composition. It was more than a mere depiction of an earth theme in this dessert. It was a perfect illusion and a glorious presentation.

Rum roasted banana, milk chocolate ice cream, curry was a more forceful dessert with stronger sweet notes and flavor combinations than in previous dishes. It was a little too forthcoming for me, but still very enjoyable. A roasted banana with a shining rum glaze, resting on the sand of brown sugar crumbs, lie parallel to the beige, luscious ice-cream, set on a long “rug” of a thin curry splash, which bestowed the most exotic perfume as soon as the plate was in front of us. A bridge of crispy banana chip with a sweet spiky bite of black and red pepper joined the ice-cream and the roasted banana. A small mound of soft and very lightly gelatinized red soy caramel jelly contrasted with the yellow curry stripe and finished the composition. It was an interesting twist on a more traditional dessert, but all the little touches worked perfectly well.

Right after our dinner, we were taken to the kitchen, a large room with overwhelmingly bright lights and clean surfaces. One could hardly imagine that this was the place that just fed the full room of people. As soon as we stepped inside, a sense of leisure evaporated. Dewey’s mildness transformed into a strong will of command which gently but firmly indicated that we were in his domain now and should behave. We were put in a line, away from the long tables and the kitchen exit, after which Dewey, with a habitual, sharp manner described the kitchen design and its functional features. “Table 37. Three tastings,” Dewey introduced us to Wylie Defresne. A man with Lord Byron’s side whiskers turned and smiled.

A light chat, handshakes, and a memorable picture of my daughter between two handsome gentlemen, Wylie Dufresne and Mike Sheerin (sous chef), completed our evening’s composition.:smile: We shall return.

It is quite natural to apply one’s previous experience in an attempt to find a parallel between different entities of the past or the present. Robert Brown mentioned earlier in this thread that one of the dishes reminded him of a dish he just had in Spain. The chef’s fascination with smoke and cold smoked fish brings us to Scotland, Finland, perhaps even Russia and Poland. Smoked rice and shiitake mushrooms certainly show an Asian influence. The man takes us around the world with his own, very distinctive style that appears simple, natural, without strain or artifice.

“Got to give him credit for trying. He made you think a little about which flavors are complementary. Also, since the portions are small, he can afford to take chances even if he misses now and then,” said my friend after our discussion of my dinner at WD50. He was right on target. I can easily imagine some people viewing chef Dufresne’s cuisine as toy food, too experimental and not comforting, perhaps too abstract and free from traditional constraints, too inclusive and indiscriminate. It is certainly an adventure, where chef Dufresne exercises his freewheeling license to be uninhibited and creative. Huxley said once about Montaigne: “Free association artistically controlled – this is the paradoxical secret of Montaigne’s best essays. One damned thing after another – but in a sequence that in some almost miraculous way develops a central theme …”

For us, not everything worked, but everything was worth trying, and some dishes were spectacular.

#14 Orik

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 08:20 PM

why are people suggesting to dine at WD on a night when Wylie is not there?

that what Orik suggested in his post initiating this thread.

Thanks for your comments. I am intrigued by this egg dish.

This is based on a sample size of 8 meals, with 3 of those on WD-less days ;)
I never said that

#15 Wilfrid1

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 08:24 PM

Thanks for all the detail, lxt. I am not nervous, but I am mildly irritated at being unable to access some of my own writings. I won't make that mistake again.
Elect-a-lujah

***Every Monday***At the Sign of the Pink Pig.

If the author could go around the place hitting random readers with a rubber hammer, the Pink Pig would still be worth a visit.