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Sous chef Jon Bignelli, left, prepares tasting plates and main dishes with chefs Samantha Henderson, center and Christopher Christous at WD-50.
WD-50: Housed in a former bodega on a slightly scruffy street on the Lower East Side, this restaurant draws serious foodies hungry for chef-owner Wylie Dufresne's playful, cutting-edge interpretations of classic dishes. You'll never think of eggs Benedict the same way after trying Dufresne's deconstructed version: egg yolk pillows, tissue-thin Canadian bacon wafers, and cubes of deep-fried hollandaise. And cold leftover chicken never tasted as good as this rich block of crispy bird garnished with buttermilk ricotta, a shot of hot sauce and a spoonful of caviar.
This is a restaurant where the plates serve as china canvases for edible art (one piece is even painted in chocolate). Delivering the goods were the architectural firm of Asfour Guzy, and the designers, Dewey Dufresne, Wiley's dad, and Louis Mueller. The 67-seat dining room is kept simple, but simple ain't boring: Walls are painted a tranquil blue, and there are lots of blond wood trim and colorful glass lampshades.
Menu descriptions are minimal, so there's an element of surprise when dishes are served. Even the unisex bathroom has its surprises: Press gently against a seemingly black wall of wood, and a stall door suddenly swings open. Inside the stall you'll find the expected plumbing, a wall-mounted shelf and a mirror. Why a mirror? Well, there's none over the row of sinks. Instead there is is a lively underwater mosaic by Tim Snell featuring curious fish and one feisty octopus.
WD-50, 50 Clinton St. (between Rivington and Stanton streets), New York City. 212-477-2900. wd-50.com.
August 10, 2011