You could walk by and miss the opening for AOC, marked by a small sign on the street. But once you enter you find the red carpeted stairs and signage that leads you up and then down a set of stairs into a series of coved ceiling rooms where the well spaced, nice sized tables are draped long and the linens are rich. The table spacing allowed for private conversation while still having a buzz in the room. The lighting system keeps the room well lit yet still cozy and a low shelf along the wall holds vases full of lovely white roses. You enter into a long hall that is enclosed wine storage on one side and ends in the first part of the kitchen. The temperature was a bit warm for me but it got better as the night wore on. The service was the best ever – very friendly, helpful and fun.
They offer two tasting menus of different sizes as well as multiple options for wine and/or juice pairings. We chose the longer tasting and ordered our own bottles of wine. They have a holder on the table where the menu can be displayed which was a nice touch for those of us taking notes.
Everyone starts with a series of snacks that are not listed on the menu. First was mackerel wrapped in seaweed served with plum pureé. The sauce was a good combination for the strong fish and made a good start to the meal.
Next was a plate of several greens: watercress which was nicely spicy, pickled cabbage, baby cucumbers that were great, and grilled Romaine lettuce that was quite nice.
Potatoes were the next appetizer. A steamed one served in a bowl of straw with an accompaniment of roe and cream. It was totally delicious. The other was a ball of fried shreds that were light and crispy and equally delicious.
Next was another course of two items. A pancake with salt and a plate of seasonings that could be mixed and rolled into it. It was messy but a fun tastes. Alongside was a crisp sandwich coated on one side with stinging nettles powder and encasing sweetbreads. It was good, but I’m a pancake lover.
Following was a grilled cheese sandwich, served warm and it was crazy good. Made with 3 year old Havarti cheese and truffles, how could you lose? Served along with a pickled radish over milky cream custard. The radish was slightly spicy and the custard was smooth and reminded me of Junket. Another yum here.
The tasting started with celeriac which was presented in the actual plant. It had lots of little chunks of apple and almond topped with whipped cream and was very tasty.
Next was a finely sliced sea scallop that was served with fermented asparagus and Daikon Radish in mussel cream. It was served with a steamed bun which was then coated in mussel flower and fried. Much like a beignet and absolutely great as was the scallop.
Warm house made bread was the next course. It was a dark wheat, sour dough served with a choice of salted or seaweed butter. The bread had a nice texture and the salted butter was delicious.
The cooked onion was a table side preparation, with first opening it and cutting out the soft interior. Then it was covered with cream and Polish Gold Sturgeon caviar. It was decadently rich and scrumptious.
The perfectly cooked langoustine was covered with summer flowers including nasturtium and served along side a dashi broth that was outstanding.
The flounder had been grilled and coated in a sauce made with four kinds of onion and cod head. Believe me, the sauce made this course sing.
The wild mushrooms were porcini, chanterelle and sep that had been grated and then mixed with heart and corn bits. The sauce was rich, thick and combined elegantly with the mushrooms.
The quail was sauced with chive oil with the marrow underneath the meat. It was totally tasty.
The first dessert was parsley ice cream under slices of butternut squash. It was mild but nice.
The second offering was more to my liking, hazelnut custard with caramel coated with a Jerusalem artichoke and sugar thin crust. It was wonderful.
Nordic vanilla were faux vanilla beans that tasted much like vanilla and were chewy and interesting. They were made from salsify to look like the bean.
The pine and yogurt bits were strange whereas the beech nut pies were quite good. But the best of last treats were the caramelized bread. It was a chewy, buttery roll filled with gooey caramel. Triple yum for these!