And one final birthday post. Not omakase nor even sushi, my friend ST – with whom I’d dined at Betony – managed to score a primetime reservation at Atera, way down in TriBeCa… the day before my birthday. When she asked me to join her, I hesitated because well, a couple of strange personal things I won’t mention here, but then decided, what the heck, you only live once.
I do not regret this decision at all.
The tasting menu began with a parade of snacks.
The first was a beer foam macaron with caviar and creme fraiche. The cookie part was light and airy, like beer foam – with the slightest hint of beer taste to it. The creme fraiche and caviar added a nice salty element to the sandwich cookie.
Geoduck, pork fat on top of ‘air baguette’ – which was like the airiest cracker you’ve ever had. ST, who has a gluten sensitivity, was accommodated without complaint – hers was served on a different carb. Don’t ask me what – I was busy eating mine!
Trout roe on crisps – again, yum.
Lobster roll – the ‘bread’ was airy, like a savory meringue, and the center tasted like the best essence of lobster mixture ever.
Beef tendon that underwent the chicharron process – thereby making it into a tasty, tasty air-chip of beefy goodness, seasoned with the slightest shiver of fish sauce for a punch of umami.
Pickled quail egg served with chicken liver spread on pig’s blood wafers – a very interesting interplay of textures and tastes.
Another playful course – beef marrow served in hearts of palm, so an entirely edible bone marrow dish – I loved the combination of rich marrow with the refreshing heart of palm… delicious!
Swordfish belly, Virginia ham cured, brushed with pork fat – honestly difficult to tell this wasn’t actually ham, the texture of the fish was so eerily similar to ham…
Caviar and horseradish – I wouldn’t have thought the two would work; I’m not a huge horseradish fan and find it often overpowers, but something about this combination just sang.
Grapes and olives – so deceiving to see what looks like all grapes and to eat some that are, some that aren’t. Interesting use of the perceived visual vs. the actual tasted reality…
Salad of artichoke flower
My notes get really hazy here. I was drinking a lot. The notes pretty much stop, to be honest… it’s hard to figure out what they mean. Luckily, I have a copy of the menu from that night – though we received extra courses, for sure. Yellowfin tuna, tomato preserves and sunflower in the above dish.
Razor clams; garlic; almonds. This was one of my favorite dishes – again, the perceived visual vs. the tasted reality was quite incredible. Aside from how beautifully stacked each piece is, the taste of a piece of garlic against a sliver of almond against a slice of razor clam… just amazing.
Sea urchin topped with nasturtium, squash; I sort of felt the sea urchin was overwhelmed by the vegetation in this dish. But very pretty!
Diver scallop with fermented cabbage leaf and that little drop of hazelnut; I was surprised by how much flavor was packed into that tiny brown splash.
Dried beets; brown butter; blackberry. Sometimes the visual deception goes a little too far, in my opinion. This was one such dish I wrinkled my nose at.
Mmm… very good bread with delicious butter. ST was given something different due to her gluten sensitivity.
Peekytoe crab ravioli with a toasted grain dashi (yes, my friend was given a slightly different broth) – this was more like an American dumpling than a ravioli, I remember it being a bit heavy.
Matsutaki mushrooms – underneath which was hiding a bit of foie gras. Sneaky, sneaky…
Sepia (cuttelfish) with a chicken bouillon – love sepia, and this was no different – so good!
Grilled halibut topped with arctic rose petals and a chamomile crema. The fish was cooked perfectly flaky and light.
Roasted squab – all night, we’d peered into the kitchen and watched them prep this course for other diners. Berries, black garlic, bronze fennel, the very rich meat was delicious along with bits of the ‘twigs and berries’ on the left that was more art than not. Gorgeous and delicious.
Lamb rack with New Zealand spinach – very rich, even though it wasn’t a lot of lamb, it definitely made an impact.
The sweet courses began with cheesecake: lemon sherbert and wood sorrel. Pretty tasty, though the cheese didn’t quite taste like cheesecake to me. Just like… cheese.
Saltine meringue, raspberry and kiwi… this was like the best strawberry shortcake you’ve ever had, multiplied by 6, and then made tastier. YUM.
Our server came over to watch us while we ate this – cracked egg ice cream, egg yolk jam. It was insanely delicious… and reminded me of the best Cadbury creme egg I’ve never had. It was AWESOME.
Walnut sundae with celery root, lemon balm. Another light course that refreshed my flagging self – yes, I’m old, and when meals take hours, I start to get tired… of eating…
Bourbon cask ice cream sandwiches were a delicious and light ice cream bite… that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Our final bites of chocolate and a marshmallow dusted in cocoa that I cannot remember very well… the perfect end to a wonderfully hazy night.
Special thanks to the chef for taking care of us (we received multiple courses that other diners didn’t) – and huge thanks to ST for taking care of me!!! This was a lovely and unexpected birthday present that I thoroughly enjoyed. The cocktails were super strong and delicious, and sitting at the counter just looking right into the kitchen and watching everyone work… pretty freaking cool and amazing.
I thoroughly enjoyed dining at Atera. Though there’s no sign out front – I thought I was walking into a dog rehabilitation center, and the maitre’d informed me this is how chef wants it (and didn’t laugh at my joke about what happens to the dogs that don’t get rehabbed!) – if you can find the place, and find the money for it, it’s definitely a very unique experience. Try to arrive early, too, so you can spend a little time in the very cool lounge downstairs – and watch the very hot bartenders, I mean mixologists, do their thing.