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  1. Sneakeater


    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. 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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