Off kilter, perhaps, but never off target, Chef Wylie Dufresne hits the mark yet again with the inception of Alder, his newest venture in the East Village. Even without the distinct success of WD-50, the wildly popular laboratory-turned-restaurant that first put Dufresne on the map, Alder would have made it fine on its own. The nightly queue that forms outside this inventive pub-style restaurant clearly attests to this. Once inside, stylishly muted colors serve to underscore the vibrancy of a menu that doesn't consider fried quail and banana curry strange bedfellows.
Instead, seated beneath the washed-out tones of reclaimed fence wood hanging neatly from the ceiling above, the focal point of the night is a star-studded cast of pub fare like you've never dreamed of: bright orange stuffed kumquats, wine-dyed cheddar and potato pressed chips, pastrami and rye pasta that perfectly mimic the famed sandwiches from Second Avenue Deli, and fried cauliflower with lemon-almond purée and cocoa. For dessert? Vanilla ice cream with red pepper oil. Wash it down with a bespoke cocktail and enjoy with the warm company of close companions. As fellow New York restauranteur David Chang so accurately predicted: Alder is "gonna crush it".