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.