Atera — New York City (7/2015)


Although this was my third visit to Atera, it was more like a first visit again.  The original chef of Atera left a couple of months before, with a new chef (another Noma alumnus) being installed about a month or so prior to my visit.  Conceptually, the restaurant is the same, focused on a small plates tasting menu using fresh, local ingredients.  With that, my expectation was a more Nordic approach to flavors.  The menu below was actually presented at the end of the meal.

I was told it was not a coincidence that I was sitting in the exact same spot as my prior visits.  It’s the seat for the solo diner.

I selected a glass of the Chassagne Montrachet white Burgundy to go with the start of the meal.

After a hot towel, they brought a cup of green tomato water with juniper oil, which was a fragrant and sweet refreshing start.  Soon after, they offered a plate of herbs and flowers (nasturtium, fava leaf, agretti, lime mint, pea flower all from their herb garden) with a shrimp emulsion dip.  They had just started serving the dish on this evening.

For the full write-up, click here.

Al Pont de Ferr — Milan (7/2015)


After booking one restaurant in Milan for lunch, I was still in search for a dinner restaurant.  Al Pont de Ferr popped up as a possibility after continued searching.  I think I ran across the name somewhere in a travel article or food article.  When I looked up the restaurant, it sounded like a good candidate for at least some dishes made with a modernist approach.  I emailed them for a reservation and received a prompt response.

The restaurant is located in a part of the city I had not visited before.  It was just beyond the central part of Milan, but still reachable very easily by the Metro.  The restaurant was situated on a canal lined by restaurants and bars, so it was a relatively high-traffic area for people strolling.

There was a window into the kitchen from the sidewalk. The restaurant itself had an informal look.

The menu had an a la carte page.  After that, there were a few different tasting menus from which a diner could choose.  There were a couple of shorter tasting menus, called Traditional and From the Vegetable Garden (vegetarian).

For the full write-up, click here.

Ristorante Cracco — Milan (7/2015)


I had planned my short trip to Milan for non-food reasons.  A search for modernist cuisine led me to the 2-star Michelin Ristorante Cracco.  While they don’t have an online reservation system, they do arrange reservations via email.  I found out that I could not secure a dinner reservation for either of the nights I was to be in Milan due to events being held at the restaurant, but I could get a lunch reservation. That ended up to be fine, as the menus appeared to be the same for both.

This was the cocktail and champagne menu:

And this was the tasting menu for my lunch, as well as the a la carte menu:

To start off the meal, they brought bread selection from which I could pick, as well as several small bites to get started.

For the full write-up, click here.

Qui Tasting Counter — Austin, TX (6/2015)


When planning my trip to Austin, I had originally planned to dine somewhere else on my last evening.  However, at the last minute, I ran across an article about Austin food which mentioned a new offering at Paul Qui’s relatively new restaurant located just east of the Entertainment District.  On the website, I managed to make a reservation for the early seating (reservations are booked using a ticketing system very similar to that used by some restaurants in Chicago where you pre-pay, but this one readily accepts solo diners, if there is room).

The counter seating for the tasting menu is in the same room as the 3 rows of community table seating for the regular restaurant and looks out at the kitchen area.  There were 8 seats, but only four were filled for the early seating.

As soon as I was seated, they served a complimentary apéritif:  Campari, apple juice and white wine, served in a clear glass soda bottle.

For the full write-up, click here.

Barley Swine — Austin, Texas (6/2015)


For a recent trip to Austin, I picked out Barley Swine as one of the places I wanted to try.  They only do a tasting menu presentation, and a friend of mine who lives in Austin would be joining me for the dinner.  They have their own online reservation system, and it was easy enough to make a reservation for the desired date and time.  They gave me a seating choice when making the reservation of sitting at the counter or a table.  I, of course, chose the counter. The restaurant is located a little south of downtown Austin and tucked away unassuming in with other small buildings.

The restaurant is not very big.  Waiting for us with our place settings were the menu summary and the wine list.  They showed selected wine pairing for the meal.  For the wine, we selected a bottle of the 2013 St. Paul GFLL Sauvignon Blanc.

The first dish was a chilled glass with tomato water gel, tomatoes, buttermilk snow, and a little smoked trout roe.  This was a cool few mouthfuls, with the roe providing something firmer to bite into.

For the full write-up, click here.