Scrambled egg ravioli with charred avocado and Kindai kanpachi
At the top, a weird, canary yellow cube of “ravioli.” Inside the thick, sticky skin was a blob of stodgy scrambled egg. To the right, thick, citrus-infused slices of kindai kanpachi (a fatty yet eco-friendly alternative to Japanese tuna Bluefin tuna). These chewy slivers could have been much thinner and delicate. Below this, a strange cylinder of gooey burnt avocado puree, so rich and heavy that we only ate half of it. Then, in the center of the plate, a strange sprinkling of tiny breadcrumbs.
Pickled beef tongue with fried mayo, tomato molasses, onion soil and romaine
The thinly sliced pickled tongue was apparently a reference to nearby Katz’ Delicatessen but, to my mind, they should have just gone to the deli and bought the meat there. The sour, tangy flesh was akin to a pastrami but with much more vinegar. It was plated with three disgusting parcels of fried mayo: crunchy on the outside but, inside, solidified bites of mayonnaise. To the left was a strange smear of thick, cloying burnt tomato molasses: sweet and sickly. On the right, more pretention, with a long slash of bland onion soil and crunchy crumbs of romaine husks. This was probably one of the most pretentious, overstated and unpleasant dishes I’ve ever had.
Lamb loin with black garlic romesco, pickled ramp and dried soybean
A tiny sliver of tender, perfectly cooked lamb loin, ruined with an obnoxious assortment of flavors and textures. For the second time in one meal, the chef used the tired technique of smearing a sauce onto the plate. This dark condiment, originally from the Catalan region of Spain, was a combination of toasted almonds, black garlic, peppers and other spices. Burnt and sweet, it wasn’t so different from the tomato molasses. The tart pickled ramp wasn’t particularly tasty or interesting and hinted at the chef’s limited culinary vocabulary (two pickled items in one menu?). It was garnished with micro basil: another unnecessary, obnoxious extra.
Blueberry cheesecake with wild blueberries, plantain and lime *not pictured
A bizarre interpretation of cheesecake, with small oblong bites of cake. Sprinkled around the plate were five gelatinous violet shells filled with turgid morsels of bland cheesecake. Dotted with spills of lime sour cream next to a quenelle of blueberry sorbet, sat upon a bed of snickerdoodle crumble. Finally, garnished with five random blueberries and a dusting of lime zest.
Hello, 1995. Step into Chef Wylie Dufrense’s weird world and take a trip back to the dark age of deconstructed, molecular gastronomy. But here, things haven’t advanced much since then. Throughout the meal, he employed the same technique multiple times. He fries, pickles or puts everything into small balls. None of these are things that I find particularly appealing. The flavors are bland, the ingredients boring and the pretentious plating is totally over the top. Plus, I think we’re all weary of staff dressed in blue jeans and chambray aprons. That trend ended many years ago.
Admittedly, this $75 menu was “from the vault,” bringing out old “classics.” However, these dishes weren’t classics to my mind. They were tired, outdated tricks that are no longer relevant or interesting today. That’s probably a good way to describe this place. Don’t bother.
50 Clinton St.