Location-77 Worth St. New York City, N.Y.
Cuisine- New Naturalism
After eating at Noma and Geranium in Copenhagen last year, Gagit was not ready to try Atera even by a Noma and Mugaritz trained Chef for more of the same. However, after reading the review by virtual friend @docsconz and hearing his experience@grapicavoli, I had to try for myself.
The next problem reservation, tough for this 18 seat restaurant but Gagit is depending on the NYC Foodsnob himself,SohoJewelry,who guaranteed a reservation.Well, after numerous phone calls and begging we are in as I pay off my Super Bowl bet in a glorious way.We start the night at the Brandy Library for a couple of Russian Caravan’s , Bourbon,Pine Smoked Tea,Elderflower and Lemon, a real palate cleanser for our dinner at Atera.:)
We arrive at Atera and are welcomed by the door with a gracious hello ,and are seated at the counter ,similar to Brooklyn Fare , a little more formal but still very comfortable. The scene is as expected ,as shown with Chef Lightner in the center of the cooking arena ,surrounded by his knowledgeable staff including our server Daniel for the night ,.Since reading @docsconz review which is a Bible for the restaurant and a must read before coming to the restaurant, I will only write about my highlights with all the highlight pictures shown above.
My most looked forward to item is brought to us almost immediately by our server,the Beer Cocktail,a Belgian Saison combined with a rhubarb, wildflower honey shrub,lemon olio-saccarum(lemon -sugar oil)and Peychaud’s and orange bitters over crushed ice,wow wow wow, nothing more to be said.! The snacks now start a la Noma,the first that I enjoyed the Lobster Roll,a La Lightner, using claw meat and mayonaise ,it was so light and tasty on the bun,what a bite!!!. The next bites I enjoyed were a trio,a crunchy Malt Cracker ,followed by foie gras peanuts and my favorite pickled quail eggs,that had such a light acetic flavor that jumped out with a burst in my mouth.
We are now ready for another cocktail and with my new favorite ingredient Gin,the Vesper.The cocktail has gin, vodka and house aromatized Pineau des Charantes ,prepared with fresh and dried wormwood, other bitters ,bergamot and white cardamom. This was so perfectly dry and rich with flavor that it now is the Gagit Hall Of Fame.The bites are getting bigger and we are now served various breads with House Made Butter,with Battenkill Dairy cream,which is aged alongside a JasperHill washed rind cheese,before it is made into butter.I am not really into bread but the Butter alone could be a course for me.Next one of my favorites, Peeky -Toe Crab,tapioca ,toasted shrimp and angelica gelee with Nasturtium. The flavor of the Peeky -Toe was so enhanced with the gelee , I was so glad it was not only perfect but plentiful. And by the way,Soho and I shared a half bottle of Reisling Nigl,dry and citrusy from Austria and perfect with the Peeky-Toe and the North Coast Halibut ,with young garlic, whey and Chamomile , lightness at its best with the Halibut the star. I am now blown away by the Chef with Noodles, Salad Burnet , Calamari in noodle form in a light broth and salad,I could eat this as a main as Ramen supreme.
The meat courses now begin and we order another half bottle of wine, in this case a Edna Valley Syrah,Topanga ripe Fruits and Oak balanced perfectly to match the foods we will be served. We are now served Lard Bread, They had been basted with Pork Fat over Fried Dough and eating half of one is a course by itself. And now the star of the night for me Duck Hearts,served as a substitute to Soho instead of a bland Scallop dish ,I will be back soon for my own order.The dish, pastrami-cured duck hearts with spring vegetables,both pickled and fresh and dried mushrooms and fish sauce vinaigrette. The duck hearts pickled with pastrami spices ,sliced thinly and spread amongst the vegetables and the main gem in this meal for both Soho and I. We now are served another favorite Veal Sweetbreads ,savory toffee, pickled vegetables , watercress, wow the Toffee flavor just enough to enhance the Sweetbread rather than overpower it .However, the final course Mangalista Pork, wheatberries ,spruce , Magenta Spreen could not stand up to the flavors of the Sweetbread and ended the mains with a downer.
The dessert parade is about to begin but one more cocktail is needed. We order, Bourbon is the star and I am a convert as we sip this drink with our desserts slightly sweet but dry enough to complement the delicacy of the desserts.We now are served a perfect palate cleanser White Rose ,wildflower sherbert with Sea Rose Mallow,perfect balance in my mouth. The next dessert I enjoyed was Strawberry Shortcake, strawberries ginger ice cream ,fresh shortbread cake with sheep sorrel and toasted flour , perfect in every way.The last I enjoyed was the Rock, meyer lemon and wild ginger sorbet with an outer layer of brown cookie dough. The moss on top parsley meringue , my phone out of juice so check out pic on Docsconz.com. along with Petit Fours of Black Walnut caramels and hazelnut truffles , I could eat a box of both of these.
I now have to drive back to New Jersey it is 1:30am, but this is the coffee that Starbucks should serve.It is coffee the old fashion way,dripped and filtered as we watch Daniel slow make it ,in this case Cero Azul, Columbian from Barismo , a small batch roaster in Arlington, Massachusetts.Two cups and I am ready to drive !!!
Let the Truth be Told, I was not really expecting a new food experience at Atera after my trip to Copenhagen last year but was I pleasantly wrong.Not only did I get to eat and drink some sensational taste creations, both with food and cocktails,but got to enjoy the company of new foodie friends with the counter seating arrangement.. It almost reminded of the the communal table at Le Pigeon in Portland where we made new friends as we enjoyed the food as well as sharing mutual foodie experiences. In fact, the couple next to us ,shared and added to my list of places to try in Brooklyn and Manhattan. In summary. I was not really expecting something as exciting as this night and now I am looking forward to go back for more.
Final Truth: Do not miss out ,try try try.