Atera (New York, USA)
Atera is a 2 Michelin star restaurant located on Worth Street in the TriBeCa area of Lower Manhattan, New York (USA). It is established inside a building with a veterinary centre, dog training facilities, a pet wellness and other ‘interesting’ companies. There is no sign of the restaurant on the outside of the building, but look out for the blue entrance.
Once inside, the restaurant features a large open kitchen that is surrounded by a bar with 12-14 seats, and one table for 4 persons. The main kitchen (where the preparations are done during the day) is hidden in the cellars of the building. The final touches and the plating is done in the open kitchen in the restaurant itself.
The interior of the restaurant’s dining room is clean and somewhat reminiscent of the 19th century. Gray, brown and black are the main colours and wood is everywhere, from floor to ceiling. The hanging garden and the interesting design lamps give the dining room a finishing earthy atmosphere.
Music is important at Atera and we notice an interesting mixture of up-tempo rock, eclectic music and other genres. The volume knob is properly tightened and this atmosphere sets the restaurant apart from most fine dining places. Downstairs, guests can also enjoy an aperitif or digestive in the cosy, cosmopolitan lounge bar (do not forget to sample one of the great cocktails).
Atera is managed by Executive Chef Matthew Lightner, who graduated from Oregon’s Western Culinary Institute in 2001. He gained international experience at Noma, Mugaritz, and several American restaurants such as L’Auberge and Castagna. Lightner received several awards and nominations and is regarded as one of the most important upcoming American chefs.
Matthew is particularly interested in innovative, creative food and new and special cooking techniques. In 2012, Matthew Lightner created his ultimate playground with Atera restaurant, where he serves his guests a creative, playful interpretation of the Modernist cuisine.
Matthew Lightner is not afraid to break the common ‘dining rules’ and serves his guests what he thinks is right, considering factors like the season, the moment in time, the current weather, the products available, etc. He created an experimental dining experience and his dishes are smart tapas-like creations that excel in creativity and flavour. In his creative room he designs dishes such as the ‘Beets with bees wax’, the ‘Lobster roll with meringue yeast’, or the ‘Halibut with black walnut and green tea pil pil’.
More traditional dishes like the ‘Roasted duck with pickles and duck jus’ might sound simple(r), but are simply delicious. The duck is roasted in-house and serves as a décor element as well as a dish during the meal.
Matthew’s dishes are often inspired by art, illustrations or personal experiences. We visited Atera in April 2014 and enjoyed the following menu:
Service & Wines
The team at Atera consists of 8-12 people in the kitchen and around 6-10 people in the dining room. Matthew Lightner is assisted in the kitchen by Chef de Cuisine Jaime Young, Boulangère Sheena Otto, and Horticulturist Ian Rothman.
Sommelier Scott Cameron and Head Bartender Benjamin Foote are responsible for the beverages in the dining room and the lounge. Scott Cameron is very passionate about beverages and his pairings are simply impressive. He surprises with pairings that go much further than only wine: Beer, Sake, Cocktails, Wines, Liquors … when it blends well with the dish, nothing is too crazy for Scott.
The tea and coffee are also seen as an experience at Atera: the fresh coffee is slowly brewed at the table, the (matcha) tea is prepared as it is on a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. At Atera, nothing is left to chance.
The “Belgian Taste Buds” Experience
Atera is one of the most interesting gastronomic restaurants in New York City and has the potential to become one of the world’s culinary hotspots. The restaurant offers an experimental and experience-driven kitchen that takes the guests on a memorable culinary journey. Prepare for an extended series of tapas-like snacks, impressive beverage pairings and a unique atmosphere. A must for foodies visiting New York!
Belgian Taste Buds:
– Food Buds 9/10
– Wine Pairing Buds 9/10
– Price/Quality Buds 8.5/10
– Service Buds 9/10
– Experience Buds 9/10
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