4 Days in New York City - 9/8 - 9/11
Day 3 - Atera - 9/10/13
Atera is a Basque word meaning "to go out".
Atera opened their door in April 2012 and by October 2012 the new 2013 edition of the Michelin red guide for New York City hotels and restaurants was published and the big news this year was that newcomer Atera, operating just under 6 months, scored a coveted two-star rating out of three possible stars. In the Michelin guide, 2 stars means Excellent cuisine, worth a detour. We are definitely making a huge detour flying from California to New York just to dine at Atera. Hoa and I we have big expectation tonight so let's hope Atera will deliver.
Getting a 2 Michelin stars in incredible difficult just imagine that there are only 7 restaurants in the New York area that was awarded two Michelin Stars. The hard part now is to maintain the stars! Only time will tell if Atera will continue to maintain the 2 Michelin stars in the future.
Atera’s executive chef, Matthew Lightner, comes to New York from the foraging capital of the USA, Portland, Oregon, and won best new chef at a restaurant called Castagna. Matthew has an impressive resume. First he apprenticed at Noma (ranked #2 in top 50 restaurants in the world), and worked under Andoni Aduriz at the famous Spanish restaurant Mugaritz (ranked #4 in top 50 restaurant in the world).
If you want to eat at Atera you will need to call 6 weeks ahead and it's tough to get a reservation so plan ahead. Before you even take a bite, you will be charged the full cost of the $195 prix fixe dinner in advance, plus tax and 18 percent gratuity. Our bill came to $505 for two people. Though all sales are final, reservations are transferable and there is no refund if you cancel your reservation. There are 27 courses during the whole dining experience and in order to enhance each dish Hoa had about 6 or7 glasses or wine (I lost count) and our beverage bill came to an additional $200. Basically we spent $700 for the two of us so we expect the food to be spectacular.
The Entrance of Atera is anonymously located on the ground floor of a nondescript commercial building.
No visible sign with Atera's name of the door but the address is prominent "77 worth Street".
When you opened the door, you see a really small room that is very dark. A host and hostess greet you and lead you the elevator that will take you the 2nd floor to the lounge/bar.
First, the Lounge is very dark! It looks bright here because the picture is taken with a flash. It is a very relaxing atmosphere.
The leather sofa is very comfortable and you might want to sink into a leather chair and stay awhile while sipping cocktail and ordering a few appetizers if you are not dinning here.
The lounge is very small with just twelve seats. You do not have to dine here, you can just stop by for cocktail and appetizers.
It might take a few tries to get a reservation because space is so limited.
The bartender preparing a gin & tonic for Hoa.
Their gin & tonic is really delicious! The bartender told me they use local gin from New York and added some local ingredients but I can't remember what it is.
In this picture you have the feel how dark the room was.
Now we are entering the dining room. It is not your traditional dinning room for sure!
A huge countertop-dining is wrapped around a large kitchen with a total of 13 seats. The counter is a slate-colored bar, which is made from polished concrete and built around the gleaming open kitchen for all diners to watch the chefs at work.
Apart from the 13 seats around the counter there is a table for five tucked away in the corner of the room. When we were there the table remained unoccupied.
On a good portion of the wall an arrangement of potted plants designed to look like foliage in a wild forest.
First impression is an intimate dining room that vibrates with life and warmth.
The high chairs made with soft leather were unexpectedly comfortable. Since our meal is about 3 hours long, the comfortable chairs are definitely a plus.
The couple behind Hoa came from Australia and because it is counter seating we get to talk to everyone.
Lamps on top of the counter.
Lots of chefs standing in the kitchen as we were settling in our seats.
There are more people working in the kitchen and staffs than customers and that's is how they pay the utmost attention to all the little details and service.
Our sommelier...He is actually pretty good and Hoa liked most of the wine he served during the whole meal
The open kitchen concept allowed customers to eat while watching the chefs bent over their work, silent and solemn. There is not much cooking going on. Everything is prepared ahead and it is just a matter of arranging the food on fresh hay, moss, slate, polished wood, or smooth riverbed stones.
Since everything is small and delicate, nearly every arrangement ends with the chefs having to use tweezers to put the food on a plate.
I had to take notes because there are so many dishes and I knew it was impossible for me to remember them all.
The atmosphere is very casual. The chefs working in the kitchen worked so harmonious together.
All the dishes came out flawlessly and most of all them look like a piece of art.
Because there are so many courses I think Hoa told the sommelier to surprise him with the wine. So the wine kept coming...
Yep by the time dinner was over, Hoa had a good buzz and was in a very good mood.
During the meal Hoa kept dropping his napkin on the floor at least 3 or 4 times and did not even realized until one of the waiter pick it up, fold it and gave it back to him. It was a bit embarrassing but heck, Hoa had too much of a good time!
I started with a glass of bubbly and water.
We were the first to take pictures of the food and then everybody else followed our footsteps. Atera does not allow us to take a picture with a flash because it might bother other guests.
Next to the Australian couple (on the left) is another couple that used to lived in New York but now they are residing in England!
We are from California and the couple next to me was from Japan. People come from all over the world to eat here.
View of the kitchen from my seat.
Okay without further ado let's start the meal!
Next.. Amuse Bouche