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Aska

Follow-Up to Frej

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#1 Sneakeater

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 04:56 PM

Aska is, of course, the "real" restaurant that one of the guys from Frej opened up with the FOH/cocktail guy from EMP and then Atera.  Like Frej, it's in the Kinfolk Studio space in Williamsburg.  Unlike Frej, it's open every night.  They offer a bar menu and a six-course ($65) tasting menu.  You can reserve for the tasting menu (their website has a convenient real-time reservations function that lets you easily see what and when's available).

 

I think Aska is fully realized restaurant.  By that I mean, the food seems very well executed, and I think it accurately reflects the chef's vision.  So the question is, what do we think of that vision?

 

New Nordic has to be the least sensually appealing major style of cuisine that's now available.  It's so austere that it seems like it would view merely tasting good as being decadent.  This doesn't mean it's indifferent to taste:  this isn't Food As Art.  It means that its palette is somber, reticent, and not immediately enticing.

 

Maybe this shouldn't be surprising.  Let's compare the visual arts of three countries with notable cuisines.

 

300px-Fragonard,_The_Swing.jpg

 

fra-angelico-the-annunciation.jpg

 

 

 

20090829082327!The_Scream.jpg

 

So I was perhaps more impressed by the food at Aska than pleased by it.  I'm happy I ate there.  I'd go again.  But not regularly.

 

My favorite course was almost certainly the smoked shrimp, served in a fruit oil of some kind I think.  This was similar to a dish I had in Copenhagen and, if you can believe it, might have been even better.  Very subtle interplay of flavors, smoky and (just a tiny little bit) sweet.  Long finish.  A gem of a dish, really.

 

Other courses suffered, I think, from the Tasting Menu Syndrome.  (Here I go again.)  For example, there was one very interesting course of potatoes and onions (it also involved some fish and some sour milk foam).  This was very good -- but you know what?  It would have been better as a side dish, served along with, say, the pork shank (I think it was shank) and trotter.  That would have been a nice combination.  But we don't do side dishes any more.  We have a plate of potatoes (however interesting) that we eat complete, followed a little later by a plate of meat that we eat complete (which incorporated sunchokes or some similar starch, to be sure).  You eat one thing and then another.  It gets kind of boring.

 

Orik needn't worry:  portions are adequate.  (On the tasting menu -- I can't speak to the bar menu.)

 

So, interesting food.  Much of it good.  But austere, somber.  Certainly not fun.

 

It may seem like I don't like this place.  I do, though.  But, as I said, not as a regular hangout.


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#2 joethefoodie

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 06:22 PM

Aska is, of course, the "real" restaurant that one of the guys from Frej opened up with the FOH/cocktail guy from EMP and then Atera.  

 

I can't believe you eat at "real" restaurants.



#3 H. du Bois

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 07:32 PM

 

 

New Nordic has to be the least sensually appealing major style of cuisine that's now available.  It's so austere that it seems like it would view merely tasting good as being decadent.  This doesn't mean it's indifferent to taste:  this isn't Food As Art.  It means that its palette is somber, reticent, and not immediately enticing.

 

Maybe this shouldn't be surprising.

 

 

All I have to do is think about Babette's Feast before Babette did the cooking.  



#4 Sneakeater

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 08:12 PM

Well, if you want to talk about movies, maybe the emblematic dish here is brussels sprouts, served raw or nearly so on the stalk.  You dip them in some sourish liquidy dairy substance and bite them off the stalk.

 

It was comical to look around the dining room and see all these people gnawing raw brussels sprouts off stalks, like an abstemious version of the eating scene in Tom Jones.


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#5 Orik

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 08:32 PM

Is the actual cuisine of Nördia that austere? Isn't it like Dutch cuisine (that is, everything seems to be made from ground up leftovers) but with more sauce? Is Smorgasbord a sign of austerity? Meatballs? potato pancakes? smoked fish? stuffed cabbage? that generic beef/venison stew? 


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#6 Sneakeater

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 08:42 PM

I said New Nordic.  Which as you know is not like any of the stuff you mention at all.


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#7 joethefoodie

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 09:17 PM


 maybe the emblematic dish here is brussels sprouts, served raw or nearly so on the stalk.  You dip them in some sourish liquidy dairy substance and bite them off the stalk.

 

That sounds fucking awful.



#8 Orik

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 09:17 PM

Yeah, but the art isn't New

 

So maybe it is cuisine as art, or just a derivative of the evident Japonaisme at the original tourist/tasting restaurants.


sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns

#9 Sneakeater

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 09:18 PM

Oh, the art was a JOKE.  FORGET the art.


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#10 Wilfrid

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 09:25 PM

Well, if you want to talk about movies, maybe the emblematic dish here is brussels sprouts, served raw or nearly so on the stalk.  You dip them in some sourish liquidy dairy substance and bite them off the stalk.

 

It was comical to look around the dining room and see all these people gnawing raw brussels sprouts off stalks, like an abstemious version of the eating scene in Tom Jones.

Quite hilarious.  I abstained.  I pulled a couple off the stalk, ascertained they were undercooked, dragged them through anchovy-ised foam, and gave up.  A very silly dish.

 

Some things were rather good: the squid, the lichen and salsify, the pig's trotter, and indeed the shrimp.  I am composing more extended thoughts (and it was bright enough for photos too!).



#11 H. du Bois

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 09:34 PM

Oh, the art was a JOKE.  FORGET the art.

But I LIKED the art.  



#12 Orik

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 03:23 AM

Quite hilarious.  I abstained.  I pulled a couple off the stalk, ascertained they were undercooked, dragged them through anchovy-ised foam, and gave up.  A very silly dish.

 

That is silly. Like asparagus, uncooked, or seriously undercooked brussels sprouts only make available a handful (or less) of volatile compounds. Basically, if you say it tastes "bitter green" you're right. Cooking, which doesn't have to mean cooking until soggy, releases over 20 compounds in easily detectable quantities... makes them taste like brussel sprouts. 


sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns

#13 Wilfrid

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 05:02 PM

I couldn't agree more.



#14 Adrian

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 05:43 PM

Can we sticky this topic to the top? That's a moment worth memorializing.


I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#15 Stone

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 05:48 PM

It's a Christmas Miracle!


A Hudson Valley Home.  Kichels --  A Recipe from the Old Country.

Just take those old records off the shelf.