Wednesday, July 3, 2013

28 Plates at Atera

Last week, the boy surprised me with a birthday dinner at forager-phenom Atera.  I've been ogling mossy stones at this restaurant for ages, so I was naturally delighted (ha ! puns are fun!).

And so for the next three hours, we rang in my new year of birth with 28 little plates of gorgeous molecular gastronomy.  Either it's my age, the champagne and wine we imbibed, or the fact that there were 28 plates, but my memory of the meal is a happy blur, but I'll share with you what I can remember.

Here is what the night looked like:

Sat in the corner by the kitchen which gave me a great view of these whole squabs just waiting to be eaten !

And these beautiful little breads (Diana would not have been able to control herself!).

And after sitting on my hands so I wouldn't grab anything, a parade of snacks appeared !

Caviar macarons were salty and briny and exquisite.

Flax seed cookies with coriander, coated with the thinnest layer of butter that melted immediately under our touch.

Beeswax coated rutabaga were crunchy under the waxen exterior.

I love their little rustic moss-laden boxes, but I cannot remember what this cookie sandwich filled with roe was about.

Look at all the stuff they put in there.  And that I still cant remember.

The lobster roll, made on airy meringue buns, the texture of soft styrofoam.

Sunchoke puree cannolis played a mind warp on us - deceivingly savory and oh so creamy.

Beef tendon crisps drizzled with uni fish sauce - so delightful !  Crispy with the subtle taste of the sea.

Chicken liver pate and pig's blood crackers - earthy and interesting, and was paired with a...

..."quail egg," a milk skin-covered oval of aioli.

With no utensils, the bone marrow plate seemed messy to eat (do we run our tongue along the bone? would that be acceptable??) until we were told the bone was really heart of palm.

Phew!  (And also - can all bone marrows be served like this !)

This looks like soggy pieces of paper.  I think it was a fish?  I honestly can't remember. Whooopps.

Big eye tuna salad with pickled ramp relish.  This is also how I prefer to receive flowers.  In my belly !

Razor clams with almond and garlic.  Everything was cut the same way so you had no idea what you were eating at any time ! Oh, the games they play !

A pile of sunset-casted petals concealed luscious pieces of uni, smooth and succulent.

Thinly sliced diver scallop wrapped around fermented cabbage was accented perfectly by the lovely small round of hazelnut sauce.

Cured wild salmon was dusted with guanciale and licorice powder, the dish so meaty and sweet.  I hate salmon! But I loved this salmon. Because it didn't taste like salmon !

Peekytoe crab raviolo.  Crab suspended in a lobster sabayon, wrapped in thin tofu skin, so unbelievably juicy - buttery sea exploding in your mouth.  The toasted grain dashi broth balanced out the richness beautifully.

Okay - enough pictures of food.  Let's look at the scene.  We had four weird Asian gents wearing "I'm so bored of eating this amazing food" faces for most of the evening.

A cute white couple dressed alike.

A cute kitchen staff equipped with long tweezers.  I think it took them five minutes to place this one petal (it just wasn't working out !).

Minimal cooking occurred in the kitchen.  Some fava beans got grilled on the flattop.  

I think this section was officially called "vials of awesomesauce."

I hope you enjoyed that break.  Now for more food !

Stuffed morrels filled with a mushroom gravy and topped beautiful clovers.

Crunchy creamy earthy fun.

House-churned butter, steeped in cheese, and sprinkled with sea salt.  

Bread, it was al-rye-t.  (haha)

Cuttlefish, sliced to resemble noodles, in a chicken bouillon broth.

Sourdough roll dunked in pork fat, so that the base is incredibly crisp and oily and delicious.  Of course, I pigged out on this.

The wine pairing would've equated to 1 liter of alcoholic beverages, meaning I would've died, or the photos would've become dramatically blurry.  So the sommelier helped us pick out some wine. I don't think I've ever spoken to a sommelier before in my life.  I am glad we did though, this Brundlmayer was delicious !

Market fava beans in a walnut consumme.  Each bean was lovingly seared on the flat-top.

Fourchu lobster dusted with corn powder.  Fourchu is a tiny fishing village in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, populated by 47 residents.  The Atlantic waters in the village is some of the coldest around, producing what is considered the "Rolls Royce" of lobsters - these lobsters are only available for a few weeks a year, making it a serious delicacy.

And it seriously was good.  The softest and most delicate lobster I have ever had.

The two-week aged squab with a heart and liver ragu.  The squab was dense and salty.  The innard ragu was smooth and light.

Lamb rack with dill.

Tender and gamey.

And as our stomachs were about to explode, addled with first world problems of "how many dishes was that? I don't think I can eat anymore!" it was dessert time, and we knew we were safely in the clear, as there's always room for dessert !

One should always order the tea here.  The production is extraordinary.  And the Earl Grey was titillating to both nose and tongue.


Sheep's milk yogurt wrapped in a rhubarb gelee, immersed in a rhubarb soup, was gorgeously summery.

The dish was altogether too tangy though between the yogurt and the rhubarb.  Pucker up !

Here's what coffee looks like.  Those two Asians gawking in the background could not get enough !


The waiter quickly dropped these plates off to us.  "Broken egg ice cream."
That's all the description we need on that.  

This is easily the best and most fun thing I've eaten in a long time.  The crisp sugar exterior, the smooth ice cream inside and the perfect egg yolk jam.  Simply genius.

White chocolate and birch ice cream with wood sorrel looked like autumn on a plate.

Walnut sundae with celery root and chocolate mint featured chewy, candied walnuts.

Bourbon cask ice cream sandwiches wrapped roughly in aluminum paper.

Tasty with hints of oak.

And the end.  Chocolate walnuts and pretzels.

Chocolate walnuts concealing salted caramel, that is.

And pretzels that were really...more chocolate that just looked like pretzels !  Our mind continues to be blown.

Where Per Se was fantastically delicious, Atera is exceptionally fun and whimsical.  The chef's creativity and ingenuity is awe-inspiring and most importantly, delicious, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend anyone to come experience this as well.

Han's Nonsensical Rating: So memorable, so enjoyable, so expensive, but so worth it.

77 Worth St
New York, NY
Atera on Urbanspoon


  1. i am full just reading this!! i love allll the pictures. the flowers are BEAUTIFUL, and that lobster belongs in my belly. :)

  2. great post! i will be visiting atera in august and seeing your pics has me even more exited for the meal.

    1. thanks patrick ! i am so excited for you ! i read a little bit from one of your recent posts, and im hopeful that the broken egg ice cream will delight you, though desserts often dont for you :)