30 June 2012

Fancy Supper Club: Atera

We are coming up to some expensive restaurants. This month was the newest restaurant of the bunch, Atera, and it was also recently awarded 4 stars from New York Magazine.  We were nervous about getting a reservation because of the excitement surrounding the restaurant but I found one.  It was on a Wednesday night at 9:30 pm but I found one.  And I was super excited that Whitney could join us. 

Be warned because all that follows is 25 photos of each dish that we were served.  Not to say that each dish isn't an art piece in itself.  The chef and owner apparently worked with an artisan in PA to design the dishes and they are gorgeous.  Mer wanted to steal most if not all of them.  One of the servers liked her enough that I wonder if she may have gotten away with it.

The kitchen is set up in the middle of the bar area.  We had the single table in the back where up to five people can be seated.  We had to have at least four people to make this reservation.  The restaurant wouldn't allow for a three person reservation.  Or maybe it just didn't fit in the time they gave me.

At the end of the meal, we were each given of a menu describing 12 of the dishes we had.  But there are 25 photos so the remaining photos are what the chef calls snacks.  They are eaten with your fingers and I'll try to remember what they were.

I said at the beginning of the meal that I wasn't going to take any photos.  I lied.  The dishes were so beautiful that I couldn't help but want to document it.

This was a very cold macaroon.  We were surprised how cold it was.  Mer actually had to leave the table to wash her hands and they brought her a new one because it had melted by the time she returned.

There are four snacks altogether but three had pine nuts and Mer can't eat those so she had her own on the black plate.  These were like granola crackers.  That sounds so mundane but it wasn't.  Each dish had so many amazing qualities and tastes to it. Unfortunately, that is how we described it to ourselves to remember.

They look like cannolis but they weren't. 

This was a lobster roll with a meringue-type bread.  I'm not a fan of lobster and it was overall too sweet but it was a very good interpretation of a lobster roll.

I cannot remember what this was.  I really should have taken notes but we were having far too much fun talking and laughing.  The hours went by so fast because I sincerely love these women.

This was interesting.  It was foie gras shaped like peanuts with what is called a pickled quail egg but Adam Platt writes is actually "whipped-egg a├»oli bound with xanthan gum and brined in vinegar."  It was delicious.

The dishes were not completely described to us.  Sometimes it's the idea of the dish like pickled quail egg but it really isn't.  I enjoyed not knowing but Mer did not like this at all.  She wanted to know exactly what she was eating.

We were told these were razor clams that you could eat entirely.  They looked gorgeous but it's a dry bread painted with squid ink with clams inside.  I enjoyed the idea of them.

That is not just a pile of rocks.  There is actually a dish in there that we were told was lichen.  I think it may have been but we ate it regardless.

Now we enter the non-snack portion of the meal - 

Green Almonds - lily buds, fresh almond milk.  It was a refreshing start.

Diver Scallops with pickled green tomatoes and sesame.

Peeky-Toe Crab with tapioca, tasted shrimp and wild ginger gelee.  I found it a little too sweet.  Mer and I have a friend who once told me that she would like to name a daughter Peeky-Toe.  I will think of this forever now whenever I eat this.

The bread and cheese-butter.  It was butter with cheese on the brine.  Delicious.

Ravioli with lardo, shad roe, peas and mustard seed.  It's a gorgeous dish but the flavor wasn't as heavy as I wanted for a ravioli.

Noodles with squid as the noodles.  I really enjoyed this dish which was described as a take on ramen. 

Morel with boudin and pine nut gravy.  This was my favorite savory dish. 

This is not on the printed menu so maybe it was a later addition but it was a beet underneath all that black.  I tried it but I just will never like beets.

 Again, not on the printed menu.  I believe it was a fish dish and it was delicious.

Veal Sweetbreads with savory toffee and pickled vegetables.  I believe it's my first time eating sweatbreads and the toffee dressing was delicious.  It's hard to stomach what I'm actually eating.  I'm still a bit of a food coward.

Wagyu with ribeye and pickled marrow.  Everything in this dish is delicious.

And desserts - White Rose with wildflower sherbert.  I loved all of the desserts and look at the artistry to designing the food.

Peach with sunflower toffee ice cream.  Doesn't the ice cream look like a peach pit?  Incredible.

At this point, we were the only people in the restaurant and they were cleaning up the kitchen but they kept bringing out the food.  Churro with chocolate that I couldn't get enough of.  

Bourbon Cask Ice Cream Sandwich with almond and vanilla.  It's a modern oreo.

Above and below are gorgeous chocolates.  We were sad to be done with the meal but we left the restaurant after 1 am completely stuffed and satisfied.  It's like we were spectators in a gorgeous food exhibit at a museum.  Atera is unlike anywhere I've eaten at.

29 June 2012

The Fanciest Prison in the World

Or at least I assume it's the fanciest prison.  And it was once a prison.  Now it's a hotel.  I'd even say it's the best hotel in Boston.  I've stayed at over a dozen so far in the city and I finally found my favorite one -  The Liberty Hotel (get it?).

The hotel has restaurants/bars named Alibi, Clink., The Yard, and Catwalk.  Some of it's too precious but it all works because it's a gorgeous hotel.  The TV in the room was set to a documentary on the history of the prison when my bed was turned down and I wanted to keep watching it.

The lobby is gorgeous.  There are only a few rooms in the actual prison and I was assigned one of them.  It's one of the largest hotel rooms I've been in.

The hotel built in 1851was previously the Suffolk County Jail.  Quoted from a sign on the building, the designers created "a cruciform with four wings radiating from an octagonal center.  (Rev. Louis) Dwight's humanitarian approach toward prisoners called for rooms large enough for communal work and exercise as well as individual cells.  This location on the Charles River produced additional benefits as well - fresh air and ample natural light through wall and cell windows.  The jail served the county until 1990."

28 June 2012

Good Italian Food

Sometimes I just want pasta.  Not often but sometimes.  And after my simple but delicious plate of spaghetti at Scarpetta, I jumped at the chance to eat more pasta.  Mer made reservations at dell' anima last Thursday night and this place has been on my "to eat" list for a while.  I'm leaving NYC in two months time and my "to eat" list is what is stressing me out the most.  I need to eat at three restaurants a week to complete it.  Any attempt at staying in budget or healthy be damned.  This is my mission.

Dell' anima is loved for its brushette.  We had a difficult time deciding between the five options but the server recommended the lily confit (garlic and onions), ricotta with sea salt and roasted red peppers. I loved each option and it was served with a bowl of toasted garlic bread.  This is comfort food.

We had a difficult time deciding on our pastas.  It was a really hot day and neither of us wanted anything too heavy.  I loved my garganelli with fresh porcini mushrooms, rosemary, shallots, garlic and parmigiano reggiano.  It had a lot of flavor and I liked the shape of the garganelli.

Mer went for the bucatini alla arrabbiata with calabrian chilies, tomato and pecorino breadcrumbs.

I can understand why people in the West Village seem to really like this place.

24 June 2012

Do It.

I made plans with Brig to eat at a restaurant called Do or Dine in Bedstuy over a month ago.  I read about it in the New Yorker and knew it was a place that I had to go with Brig.  I knew he would appreciate the adventure and the unusual menu. 

Unfortunately, his gallbladder stood in the way of this brilliant plan.  He waited for a clear diagnosis, doctor appointments, and a surgery date.  I just waited and hoped it would all happen before I left NYC.

The infected body part was removed and I waited a week before I emailed to ask for a date for our adventure.  He proposed the next night and we made our way to a part of Brooklyn I've never previously visited.

This is a place that can be seen blocks away.  I had previously seen a picture so I knew I was headed in the right direction from the G train.

We waited by the bar for a few minutes.  It was good to catch up on life and inquire about Brig's life without a gallbladder.

This pretty lady was looking over us at the bar.

I took a picture of the menu to remember what we ordered.  Brig's post isn't up yet but his pics will be so much better.  Let this be a place holder until those are posted.

Our first dish was the Foie Gras Doughnut.  We both knew that this would be a part of the meal.  The doughnut is made by Dough which is my favorite doughnut shop in NYC.  Inside was foie gras with a berry compote on the side.  Perfect.

This is the Nippon Nachos which were dumplings topped with gouda and cheddar cheese and a special sour cream that I can't remember.  Again, an absolute surprise regarding the combination of ingredients but delicious.

There are some hefty items on the menu like the Pig, Latin and the New Zealand Duck Breast but we kept it semi-light since Brigham has only been out of the hospital for a week.  We ate the Rice-Skate with rice and beans, mango and pork.  The rice and beans were puffed rice and black beans.  Very well conceived dish.  I don't typically order skate but this was good.

I was still hungry and Do or Dine doesn't really have a dessert selection.  We finished off the meal with  the Lamb Breast which is described as fatty, cumin, lime.  It's like a lamb belly and it was my favorite dish of the night.  We spoke to one of the chefs who told us how he and his friends would buy this cut of lamb because it was so cheap but they couldn't figure out how to cook it.  It was tough and stringy.  He accidentally slow cooked it (kept the oven on and forgot to take out the meat) and it was delicious.  This is how he learned to slow cook.

This is on my top twenty restaurants to go to in NYC.

23 June 2012

The Tallest Man On Earth

I owe this discovery to my friend Ben.  At first I did not like The Tallest Man on Earth.  I did not like his voice at all.  And then I kept listening.  We also listened to it while we were touring through Portland a couple of years ago.  And I now I like him a lot.  I went to see him at Town Hall on Wednesday night.  I loved the venue.

Forgive the crooked photo but I was trying to take this picture without being noticed.

If you've never heard of The Tallest Man On Earth, it's just one man named Kristian Mattson from Sweden who sings songs.  It's him on the stage with a choice of playing one of five guitars or a piano.  This audience was quiet and in love with him.

He moves when he sings but it's not really a dance.  

And if you're interested in hearing and seeing what he looks like up close.

21 June 2012

Jay-Z is Not Their Neighbor

Scarpetta has been on my list to eat at for years.  It's pretty near where I work but it's not open for work and my co-workers had a non-exciting meal there once.  But then I heard from Mer that the spaghetti is worth the visit.  And then I read it everywhere.

First off, the restaurant is much larger than I suspected and it is beautiful.  The ceiling is gorgeous and I would love to see what it looks like on a rainy night.  Apparently, they open them on warm nights but there is too much construction next door to do it this summer.

We had a selection of butter, olive oil and an olive tapenade to eat with the bread.  But one of the breads was this salami, mozzarella amazingness and no topping was necessary.  Suzi and I grabbed the two in the bread basket but we made sure to ask for more so Micah could give it a try.

I read about the creamy polenta with truffled mushrooms and told the table how delicious it was supposed to be.  Our server came up with the excellent suggestion to order two appetizers and share them.  The polenta was worth it.

And so was the Braised Short Ribs of Beef with vegetable and farro risotto.  The beef was tender and delicious. 

This spaghetti doesn't look all that special but it is the best spaghetti I've ever had.  It's also not a dish I order much but it was worth the price of the tomatoes and basil.  I would return for this dish.

Suzi ordered the tagliatelle with truffle zabaglione, guanciale and spring vegetables.  She liked it but there was a taste that she wasn't keen on.  She ate some of my spaghetti.

Micah is wonderful for many reasons but also because he is an adventurous eater.  He ordered the pasta with rabbit just because he's never eaten rabbit before.  He didn't love it but it was fine.  

And we finished our meal doing something that others hate.  We all ordered the same dessert.  Our server was even disappointed in us but we all knew what we wanted and we wanted our own dish of it.  We each ordered the Amedei Chocolate Cake with salted caramel gelato and chocolate butterscotch.  I was having a rough day and this is my comfort dessert.  I was very pleased with my choice.

Our server told us a rumor that Jay-Z is building a hotel right next door.  I just found out on Curbed that it's a rumor but that would have been so much fun.  I want to see what a Jay-Z hotel would look like.