Acclaimed chef Wylie Dufresne has opened a second city restaurant in the East Village, to pioneer a new concept in dining. Zagat editor James Mulcahy filed the following report.
157 Second Avenue, Manhattan
Wylie Dufresne gained fame for his work at WD-50 on the Lower East Side, where he pioneered science-driven, molecular techniques. At Alder, his second restaurant, diners will see much the same creativity in a more casual environment.
"For quite some time I've had the idea of wanting to take a lot of the things we've acquired at WD-50 and deliver it in a slightly different form, to do it in a place that's more approachable," says Dufresne. "Approachable financially, geographically, less of a commitment in almost every way."
Playful but refined dishes pay homage to the neighborhood, with one plate of pasta giving a nod to nearby Katz's Deli and the Second Avenue Deli.
"It's rye-flavored pasta, tossed in a mustard sauce with some shaved pastrami on top, and then there's a little surprise inside the bowl as you work through the pasta," says Dufresne.
Bartender Kevin Denton mixes drinks with unique ingredients like sea buckthorn and carrot juice, but his beverage program keeps things casual with affordable prices and cocktails on draft.
"This is a much more high-volume location. I still want a really high level of quality," says Denton. "I've been trying to figure out how to streamline things such that drinks are delivered quickly. So, we have three cocktails on draft -- a vodka drink, a tequila drink and a year-round Pimm's Cup."
The final concept is to create an interpretation of an "American Public House." No reservations are taken and patrons are encouraged to stop in for a drink and quick bite.
"France has the bistro, England has the tavern, what if American had a place where everyone can come and it's sort of a level playing field? People can come and congregate, a place where anybody is welcome at all times," Dufresne says.
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