1/2 Dinner at WD-50 was better than expected, really top-notch and fun. I'm always afraid I'm going to be disappointed by popular restaurants (like a couple weeks ago we went to Mermaid Inn, which isn't quite in the same league, but was a hot spot last year, and I was under whelmed. Plus, the waiter called me ma'am, where at WD-50 they had the good sense to use miss. It's the little things, you know.). Maybe that's why I tend to give them a good six to twelve months to mellow out.
The disturbing yet entertaining portion of the evening came from the couple one table away (luckily it wasn't so packed that you have to do the classic NYC crammed thing where you can barely squeeze into your seat because it's set up with about 3" of space between tables. The waiters always pull the table out for diners, but still you have to either scoot your crotch or butt right up against your neighbor's table. It doesn't really matter how svelte you are, settling in is going to take a few awkward seconds.) At first I thought we were witnessing a flaccid date, but it felt a little too strained for that.
The duo was made up of an Asian guy who exuded finance industry with his blahness and a so-so blonde woman who probably thought she was prettier than she was. They could've been anywhere from 28 to 34–it's not always easy to peg that demographic. I was obvious that the gentleman was trying to impress her, it was transparent enough that she was subtly egging him on in a manipulative way. She wasn't going to hump him (though James thought there was a slight chance she might) she just relished the attention…and probably the free meal, he did order a $145 pinot noir (we opted for a sauvignon blanc that was exactly $100 less). She only ordered one thing, a cod entre and didn't even finish her tiny portion, while he ordered two appetizers and an entre for himself.
He proceeded to bring up his fiance, and it was clear that he was fishing to see if there was any chance things might work between him and his dining companion. We guessed they were college friends, or old acquaintances, not likely coworkers. He was saying stuff like, "if circumstances were different…" and he brought up babies like three times, it was totally gross, and how this woman would make a good mother. Nothing gets a girl wet faster than pregnancy banter. I almost barfed up my pickled beef tongue and fried mayonnaise (and not because I was eating pickled beef tongue and fried mayonnaise).
He then began schooling her in the history of avant-garde cooking and saying how the chef Wylie Dufresne, was a protege of Ferran Adria who is like the progenitor of all the current culinary trends (he invented using foam, you know like carrot foam, but has now moved on to essences, seriously, you don't even eat them, you just breathe them in and experience them) and is chef at the impossible to get into (though not so impossible that this guy wasn't able to eat there and brag about it) restaurant in Spain, El Bulli. Anyway, Wylie Dufresne isn't a protg of Ferran Adria (doesn't protg mean you studied under the person?), I wanted to tell him so, but that was hardly even the point.
They exchanged gifts, he gave her a L'Occitane gift set (the same one James is giving his mother–does that make it any less romantic a present?) and she offered a wine bag and what must've been a fancy bottle of wine because he couldn't stop thanking her for it (though he probably would've jizzed himself over a jug of Gallo of as long as it came from this woman). We were appeased when this guy seemed to become unnecessarily humiliated when the sommelier wouldn't allow him to open this bottle of wine and share it with his lady friend, the mood was totally ruined, and he got all snippy and asked for the check when the waiter subsequently inquired about dessert. "We're not dessert people," he snapped, and they left in a huff. He probably figured that extra wine might've been adequate to lower his companion's defenses enough to impregnate her. Such an uplifting holiday tale.
Yes, the food. We did eat more than eavesdrop and just because I've neglected to discuss our actual dinner doesn't mean the meal wasn't noteworthy. As mentioned, I had the pickled tongue with little fried mayonnaise cubes and sprinkles of crumbs that were supposed to be onion streusel, there were also dehydrated scattered grains of what formerly was lettuce. If you created a bite using all components it tasted like a sandwich. A small beef tongue sandwich. Being a pork belly fiend, that entre had to be done. Sure, it was rich and I was pleasantly surprised by the decent portion. Even though pork belly is best in small doses, I feared the artistic giant plate/tiny serving syndrome. The five meltingly unctuous slices were more than adequate and accompanied well by fatty antitheses: turnips and soybeans. We shared what was probably the most pedestrian dessert, "chocolate cream, coffee soil, tonka bean ice cream," which was a conglomeration of vanilla and chocolate shapes and textures, cakey and creamy. I was tipsy enough at this point (I'd already downed a few pre-dinner cocktails at the new Barramundi across the street) that the idea of eating chocolate dirt seemed like the ultimate nightcap.
WD-50 * 50 Clinton St., New York, NY