Meals at Wylie's Wonderland Emporium of Emperor's Delights may well leave you hungry but that just lends all the more reason to order dessert, which is fine news. We're f the considered opinion that pastry chef Sam Mason's creations seldom fall short of genius. Never overly sweet, always rife with interest, each bite imparts a sense of having been made with whimsey and heart.
Certainly the most beautiful plating in town: of the (what seemed) 40 courses that preceeded our most recent WD-50 desserts, everything on the tasting menu could have been a sculpture by Hannah Hoch via Bulgari, Robert Reiman and Baskin-Robbins. The flavors sometimes register less harmoniously, as this is high-wire pairing and indeed hits occasional glitches, but on the plate one never finds a visual gaffe.
Chef WD has yet to cease staking out & developing his ever more strange-and-lovely culinary vocabulary. Themes include dehydrated dust crunches - tomato, celery and nori (last we had it, served with a nori foam) and his paper-thin, dried & fried slivers of fruit: lime, pear, apple. Signature smoked mashed potatoes always incur copious delight at CQ meals: familiar and comforting yet singular and new, they often arrive with fish and mingle with flavors at once spicy and faintly sweet, coalescing into statement.
Quite as original and delicious: On top and mixed into a (delicious) venison tartare we like the especially wondrous puffed crunchy rice powder. An emphasis on ginger has pleased us: one evening we found it in both a cucumber 'noodle' - julienned cukes steeped in ginger-creme fraiche, and in a ginger cotton candy dessert. This idea of 'noodles' made from anything but wheat derives (we guess) from Spain's Ferran Adria, who first did it with calamari. Wylie expands on that theme: here you will find shrimp, mustard and sake noodles too. However, Wylie's slow egg (baked for 1.5 hours at 140 was it?) in a gorgeous asymmetrical bowl with parmesean oil may top our list of favorites, its texture and flavors transcendentally delicious. (Paula Wolfert, we note, has a number of slow egg preparations in her Slow Med cookbook.)
Little convergences throughout the tasting and flavors echoed and picked up on different dishes imbue the meal with a kind of literary or poetic reference system. No lack of complexity here, but it's connecting the inferences that sometimes challenges. WD50's Wonderland vibe may not speak to the palate as much as to the intellect. The music of Ornette Coleman always leaps to mind here as while neither WD nor Ornette could be called user-friendly, both richly reward those who find their way to the table.