My friend Brian and I visited WD~50 this past Friday. It was my second visit to the place, and like I promised myself after my first visit, I ordered a la carte. As much as I enjoyed the tasting menu, the dishes were a tad bit too small for my comfort, and there was no way I was shelling out $140 on a meal.
Though we only ordered one dish each, the waiter treated us with a complimentary amuse-bouche of sashimi with yogurt spheres, jam, and these crunchy, caviar-sized balls. I wish I had taken notes, but I didn’t so that’s the most accurate description I can get in terms of what the amuse-bouche was. In terms of taste, the bite-sized dish lacked any strong flavors and instead carried a subtle herbal note from the jam. The dish, being cold, presented interesting texture combinations, such as the silkiness of sashimi and the crunchiness of those little caviar-sized balls, but the flavors leaned towards a blandness I was not expecting. In retrospect, the mild flavors and the cool temperature of the dish posed as a wonderful setup to our main dishes.
I ordered duck breast with black sesame dumplings, red cabbage, and parsnip consommé, while Brian ordered pork ribs with hush puppies, spaghetti squash, and red-eye gravy. The duck breast, unsurprisingly, was impeccably cooked—most likely cooked sous-vide. Each slice of duck breast had a quarter-inch layer of fat browned on one side. These delightfully shocked my taste buds with a robust grilled flavor and savoriness. Cabbage, if it could be cooked al dente, would be exemplified by the cabbage in this dish. The consommé provided a light and delicate base that wrapped all the flavors in the dish together. Perhaps the dish could use more flavors, and if I were to choose, I would modify the dumplings—make them more meaty, reduce the thickness of the skin, and make them larger.
Though I did not taste the pork rib dish, Brian admitted he was pleased with the dish. Lastly, the 3-piece meal ended with a unique spin on rice ‘krispy’ treats—a mild ice cream covered in a salty, caramel shell with crunchy, rice krispy pieces. These treats relied on a curious combination of sweet and salty, that captured my attention through indecision over whether the treats were more sweet or salty. Thus, Malcolm Livingston II, the pastry chef at WD~50, manages to strike a delicate balance of flavors that had both me and Brian heeling for more.