It’s an odd thing to mourn a restaurant before it’s gone. Even more so when its chef is still young, vital and cooking. But such is the case with gastro wizard Wylie Dufresne and his landmark restaurant, wd~50, which will end its boundary-pushing 11-year tenure on Clinton Street on Sunday 30 to make way for—surprise, surprise—luxury condos.
But all is not lost. The influence of the restaurant and its ambitious, avant-garde grub—at once mind-bending and achingly familiar—continues to be felt in dining rooms across the city:
A stroll from his LES landmark, Dufresne’s gastropub follow-up is the closest descendant of wd~50’s brainy, tongue-in-cheek ways. For proof, see remixed dishes like pig in a blanket (Chinese sausage in compressed hot-dog buns) and rye pasta snowed with pastrami jerk dust.
Much of wd~50’s fame is built on boldness, a nerve its former pastry Picasso Alex Stupak adopted when he took the leap from high-minded desserts to Mexican fare filtered through a modernist lens (smoked-cashew salsa, mole poblano tuile).
Momofuku Milk Bar
It was Dufresne who first introduced sweets sorceress Christina Tosi to Momofuku founder David Chang back when she was wd~50’s head pastry chef. The rest is culinary history—one of ingenuity, whimsy and loads of crack pie.
Pearl & Ash
At this progressive wine bar, Richard Kuo, who worked for a year under Dufresne in 2006, deploys his own (albeit subtler) take on kitchen trickery, turning out tasty curiosities like porcini mayo, olive pearls and oh-my-god-so-good chicken butter.
One peek at the madcap menu at wd~50 vet Sam Mason’s next-level ice cream parlor and you’ll see the restaurant’s pull. The hypermodern pastry chef deftly blends gastro geekery and playful flavor pairings like chorizo-caramel and miso-butterscotch-cherry.