Atera, NYC 3

August 19, 2014

On August 1, 2014, Linda and I returned to Atera with Chuck and Becky. The four of us were seated around a corner of the counter with a great view of the action in the kitchen.
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We started with a bottle of Marie-Courtin Champagne. This served nicely for the apéritif and through the caviar dish.

Our meal started with.
King Crab                           Rose Geranium
lemongrass, wild ginger      pelargonium  graveolens
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This excellent starter was quite complicated for such a small, simple looking dish. Norwegian king crab was dressed with rhubarb juice, dianthus, coconut oil and crème that is infused with lemongrass, wild ginger and rose geranium.

tapenade, burnt cream
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The generous scoop of good golden oscietra caviar was nicely enhanced by the walnut/black olive tapenade (left left-hand scoop) and especially the luscious burnt cream.

At this point, a bottle of 2009 Savoy Vineyard (Anderson Valley) Littorai Pinot Noir was served. It was very good and went well with both seafood and other dishes.
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Madai                                        Phlox
artichoke petals, mushroom      phlox paniculota
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On the bottom is a piece of red sea bream very gently seared with coal. It is topped with artichoke leaves lightly pickled with rose vinegar. The sauce is a mushroom “dashi” with sunflower oil.

Trout Liver
fresh apple, brown butter, rye toast
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Smoked Trout
pork fat
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NY Brook Trout had been salt cured and hot smoked with pork fat. It had a richness seldom found with trout.

Amaranth Toast
smoked roe, tartar sauce
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This third trout course was superb. The smoking of the trout roe, served in a chicken gelée, really worked well. The ‘tartar sauce’ is made with pickled ramps. The amaranth crackers gave just the right amount of crunch.

Surf Clam
leek, young almond
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These clams had a mild flavor. In addition to the leek diamonds and almonds there were pickled turnips and garlic.

A slice of housemade sourdough rye was served. The butter is churned from cream steeped with winnimere cheese for five days. It is delicious. A round sourdough roll followed later.
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Roasted Carrot
uni, lobster
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A small bowl was presented with pieces of carrot roasted over coffee beans to the soft texture of the sea urchin alongside and grated down to the appropriate size. A broth made from sea urchin and dried carrots was then poured on. The elements were complementary in sharing a slight sweetness, as well as their color. Excellent.


Tuna Belly
squash, puffed barley
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The faux gyoza filled with tuna and squash purée were wrapped in nasturtium leaves.  The dipping sauce was burnt onion jus. Very good.

Dumpling                  Lemon

chicken, shrimp         citrus x limon
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The chicken velouté made this dish reminiscent of grandma’s dumplings, but the Australian truffle slice and truffle gelée underneath added an upscale touch. There were also peas in the bottom of the cup.

toasted potato bouillon
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The scallop slice rested on scallop purée; dried scallops were used in preparing the broth. We enjoyed a burst of good scallop flavor. 

Lobster Roll
yeast, meringue
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This is the only dish to have remained on the menu since Atera’s beginning. It is claw and knuckle meat from Maine lobsters, with a little mayonnaise inside a yeast meringue sandwich.

spot prawn, abalone
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Fermented rice with Oregon spot prawns, Monterrey abalone, and Norwegian king crab was cooked with a seafood stock. They were accompanied by grilled abalone pieces topped with seaweeds. Excellent.

Oyster                                       Salicornia
smoked potato, tomatoes          glasswort
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A Winterpoint oyster smoked over cedar brush was topped with smoked potato purée and lightly dried tomatoes.

Now we started on a bottle of 2004 Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva made from Tempranillo and Mazuelo grapes in the Rioja. This was more robust than the pinot noir and agreed with the somewhat more substantial later dishes.
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lardo, air baguette
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An air baguette (like a big oyster cracker) was filled with the same potato puree used in the preceding plate. It was topped with slices of geoduck clams and cured lardo.

Halibut                         Chamomile
black walnut, whey       matricaria recutita
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The square of Maine halibut was poached in buttermilk whey. Served with it were pickled black walnuts, walnut butter, and walnut miso. The white sauce was an emulsion of reduced fish stock and chamomile oil.  Alongside were pieces of crisp halibut skin dusted with seaweed powder.

smoked yolk, corn
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These deep-fried balls of cornmeal batter filled with smoked egg yolk and pickled corn were quite hot, with liquid insides, so it was a challenge to decide just when and how to bite into them or the eat whole. There was dried chicken powder on top.

Roasted Duck         Sucrine
green tea                cucurbita  moschata
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A round piece was made from the de-boned thigh meat of very flavorful Peking duck The other piece is from its breast. They were served on top of a concentrated green tea and duck stock sauce. Braised sucrine lettuce and leeks cut the richness.  Excellent.

rhubarb, licorice caramel
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The rhubarb sorbet created a unusual effect. After an initial burst of sweetness, one had a light tartness in the mouth. Underneath is a rhubarb pâté de fruits.

strawberries,  hibiscus
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Those were not real almonds, but almond milk and coconut milk made into a pastry cream and frozen in a almond mold then coated in a mix of cocoa butter and almond oil. The flower is bee balm. The strawberries were strawberries.

marshmallow, brown butter
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Somewhat tart goat’s milk yoghurt was marshmallow flavored. The brown butter was in three textures: sorbet, consommé, and solids.

Three plates of mignardises followed. Those are green pea financiers on top. The chocolate bonbons are decorated with symbols for the flavors inside: strawberry and milk chocolate, wood sorrel white chocolate ganache, chamomile pastry cream (even though the picture is of trout lily), and cherry blossom almond caramel.
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Faux Milk Duds. 

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Faux walnuts made with black walnut caramel in a dark chocolate shell.

The meal was superb, as before. There was more evident complexity than in our last meal at Atera, which is not necessarily an improvement for me, but it worked. The playfulness of many of the dishes and the cheerful, relaxed interaction with the staff helps to enhance the enjoyment. Chef Lightner was on vacation, but the meal flowed forth expertly under the direction of Chef de Cuisine, Jaime Young. Captain Matthew Abbick’s presentation of each dish and our conversations with him are part of the drama and magic of Atera. He also was most kind to supply me with many of the details in the descriptions above. Conversations with Sommelier Scott Cameron about the champagne and wines we chose, as well as some other wines, were very useful and interesting. Bravo, once again.

To see all of our meals at Atera click here.


3 Responses to “Atera, NYC 3”

  1. Hi Mike, what a fabulous dinner it must have been. Surely, this excellent seafood restaurant must have a Michelin star or two?

  2. Sue Girdwood Says:

    Mike —
    This sounds like a truly wonderful meal. I am particularly intrigued by the burnt cream accompanying the oscietra with its tapenade, and the yeast meringues.

    I am envious!

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