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Tyler Williams arrives at Woodfire Grill

Strawberry Carpacchio. Credit: Broderick Smylie

Strawberry Carpaccio. Credit: Broderick Smylie

On Monday, Woodfire Grill celebrated the arrival of executive chef Tyler Williams with a five-course “Eat, Meet and Greet” dinner.

Before taking over the kitchen that Kevin Gillespie left to open Gunshow, Williams was the executive chef at Abattoir, where he earned a reputation for assimilating Asian and Indian flavors and techniques with playful touches.

“My style is a little whimsical, but grounded in flavor and technique,” Williams said of the kinds of dishes he likes to create.

The main bit of whimsy on Monday was the progression of dishes, which proceeded in reverse order from dessert to first course — though that wasn’t revealed to guests until after dinner, when the printed menu was presented as a keepsake.

Dessert was strawberry carpaccio with shaved foie gras and black pepper, paired with a bubbly red Birbet Brachetto. The first-but-last course was medium-rare beef tartare with bearnaise and asparagus, paired with an earthy Cabernet Sauvignon.

All of the flavors and presentations were complex. But a small plate arranged with spring radish, oyster cream, “sea essence” foam, and shiso powder was particularly intense. And braised leg of guinea hen and roasted spring vegetables, hidden in a bowl under a meringue-like layer of baked potato soup, was rather odd to behold but comforting to eat, which seemed to be the intended surprise.

At first blush, Tyler Williams seems closer in style to Richard Blais than Kevin Gillespie, to use a Top Chef comparison. It will be fascinating to see what other twists and turns his cooking takes at Woodfire.

— Bob Townsend, Food and More blog.

2 comments Add your comment

Randy

March 13th, 2013
2:35 pm

My wife and I dined at Woodfire last week. Keeping it short, The food was interesting, but only slightly. And it was far from the experiences we had enjoyed there in the past. Maybe change the name to something more appropriate as it’s not the Woodfire it once was…

Edward

March 13th, 2013
5:50 pm

Another Blais reference, do you guys get paid every time his name is mentioned or he is pictured? One of the most media-hyped-but-overrated chefs on the planet, ugh! I would hope that Williams is far better than that, and in fact I know he is since I enjoyed his food at Abbatoir.