Aska, New York City, 5/20/17

building
building

Aska is a medium sized 2- star Michelin place with large well-spaced tables.  There is a main dining room, party room in back and patio out back.  An open kitchen is the focus of the main dining room and at times there were 9 chefs in it.  Chef and owner Fredrik Berselius took 2 years to find and re-do this space that opened in August 2016 in an old warehouse. His Scandinavian beginnings show in his cooking and the smells are a huge component in many courses. They offer a tasting menu only of 19 courses, however that includes bread, amuse and some really small bites.  Wine pairings are available however there is not a different wine for each course.  

front door
front door
sign
sign

Some music in the background added to the moderate noise level but all tables were full.  Spot lights are aimed at each table but as the sun set  the light level is pretty low for pictures.  Service is excellent and very friendly.  Our waitress Alex was most helpful at repeating descriptions and tending to our every need.  She also indicated that pacing of the evening was up to us.

table set up
table set up
open kitchen
open kitchen
interior
interior
interior
interior
Frankie checked out the silverware rest
Frankie checked out the silverware rest

 

A fried seaweed stick was dotted with blue mussel emulsion.   It was crisp and delicate with the faintest taste of mussel.

Bladderwrack: Blue mussel
Bladderwrack: Blue mussel
closer
closer
wine
wine
Great server with Frankie
Great server Alex with Frankie

 

Bread was in the form of a flatbread, 2 types of rolls and a little loaf.   All were warm and served with butter garnished with radish flowers and a pork fat spread.  The roll on the left was quite light and seasoned with fennel seeds and middle roll was much denser having been made with beer.  The little loaf had a nice chew and was seasoned with oats and tasty, but was not too crusty.  I didn’t care for the flatbread.  It didn’t seem to have the right crispness.

Bread
breads
Roll made with malt and spices, manitoba with oats and beer, flat bread with rye and brown butter
Roll made with malt and spices, manitoba with oats and beer, flat bread with rye and brown butter
butter
pork fat and butter
Frankie looked over the options
Frankie looked over the options

 

A bundle of camomile flowers were grilled while they surrounded a delicious langoustine which ended up barely cooked.  It was served with a sauce made from the shells and heads of the langoustine which was really aromatic.  On the side were nasturtium leaves served with a sweet and sour very viscous dressing.  It was lovely.

Langoustine cooked in aromatic herbs, nasturtium, sauce made from the head
Langoustine cooked in aromatic herbs, nasturtium, sauce made from the head
inside
inside

 

A pommes souffle was adorned with a carrot top and filled with flounder roe in cream. The roe was quite mild with the potato carrying most of the flavor in this one.  The perfect crisp and puff of the potato was a terrific vehicle to accompany the creamy roe.

Pommes souffle with roe from winter flounder smoked in dried carrot tops
Pommes souffle with roe from winter flounder smoked in dried carrot tops
closer
closer
Frankie looked out the window
Frankie looked out the window

 

The Glidden Point oysters were small and wonderful.  They were plated with gooseberries, a salt brine, sedum leaf and vinaigrette.  The gooseberries were tart and the oysters were sweet and absolutely lovely.  I could have eaten a tray of them!

Oyster from Glidden Point, ME with green gooseberries and juniper
Oyster from Glidden Point, ME with green gooseberries and juniper
closer
closer

 

Sourdough bread was served with smoked hake and topped with caramelized milk.  The bun was flavored by the lightly smoked fish and overall would rate a ‘just okay’.

from the top
Milk Skin: sourdough, smoked hake, sorrrell and toasted milk skin
Milk Skin: sourdough, smoked hake, sorrrell and toasted milk skin
from the side

 

Caviar from northern Finland was distinguished by being very lightly cured (as opposed to the heavy seasoning of most caviars).  It was served with lightly grilled onions, verbena cultured cream with toasted hay, an onion broth highlighted with lemon verbena oil.  This was a total YUM course.  The smooth caviar (they don’t have the pop of other caviars) was great in combination with the other ingredients and really moved it to a higher level.

Caviar with grilled onion, sustainable Finnish caviar from Carelian, lemon verbena
Caviar with grilled onion, sustainable Finnish caviar from Carelian, lemon verbena
clpser
closer
Frankie compared the flowers with the diagram
Frankie compared the flowers with the diagram

 

Lamb heart was cooked slowly in hay to a full burn.  It was crumbled and served over pickled sunchokes.  The ash had a bit of a gritty texture to mix with the creamy underneath part.  I could detect no taste of lamb remaining but it tasted better than the description would lead you to believe.

Lamb heart: cured lamb heart burnt in bedstraw and pickled sunchoke
Lamb heart: cured lamb heart burnt in bedstraw and pickled sunchoke
underneath
underneath
wine
wine

 

A large scallop from Cape Cod was grilled and served warm with it’s roe, pickled elderberries and a sauce made from the scallop skirt and elderflower.  The sauce was fairly sweet and blended nicely with the excellent scallop but didn’t have all the dimensions of some of the other dishes.  It was plenty good but didn’t move beyond.

Scallop with elderberry and elderflower
Scallop with elderberry and elderflower
closer
closer
Frankie gave it a sniff
Frankie gave it a sniff

 

A pancake of pig’s blood  was spread with a jam of rosehips and topped with pickled rose petals.  Here were some really interesting flavors – very strong essence of rose – and some fun textures, with a great chew to the cake.  Some sweet flavors which all blended well with the blood cake.  It was a great combination and left a really nice aftertaste.

Blood pancake with rose and rosehip
Blood pancake with rose and rosehip
closer
closer
wine
wine

 

King crab from Norway was served with a quail egg yolk and a couple miniature purple potatoes.  The broth surrounding it all was like liquid crab and very aromatic.  The crab mixed with the yolk yielded the best effect.  A good course.

King crab with burnt potatoes cooked in leaves and yolk from quail egg
King crab with burnt potatoes cooked in leaves and yolk from quail egg
closer
closer
Frankie found a little reading
Frankie found a little reading

 

Kohlrabi was marinated and topped with pickled flowers, cucumber ashes and seaweed and served on ice.  The ice kept the slice very cold and crisp.  It was mildly flavored but very good with a nutty taste.

Kohlrabi compressed with linden leaf oil and linden flower vinegar, winter purslane
Kohlrabi compressed with linden leaf oil and linden flower vinegar, winter purslane
other side
another side

 

Skate wing was poached and served with roasted celery root, celery root puree and celery root leaves.  The fish was lightly cooked and its sauce rich and buttery.  I didn’t care for the leaves but the other ingredients blended nicely.

Skate: cured skate wing, celery root puree withits leaves, roasted clery root, unfiltereed rapeseed oil and flowering dill
Skate: cured skate wing, celery root puree withits leaves, roasted clery root, unfiltereed rapeseed oil and flowering dill
closer
closer
Frankie checked out all the glasses
Frankie checked out all the glasses

 

Lichen was harvested from the Catskills and served with heavily reduced cream, walnuts and mushroom.  The sauce was infused with mushrooms also.  The lichen chewed a bit like Shredded Wheat but the broth really brought out the best of it.  The crunchy texture was amazing with the savory broth.  Great course.

Lichen with cream that has been heavily reduced and caramelized in the pan, preserved pine shoots, broth from the chanterelle mushroom seasoned with spruce vinegar
Lichen with cream that has been heavily reduced and caramelized in the pan, preserved pine shoots, broth from the chanterelle mushroom seasoned with spruce vinegar
closer
closer
chef in his kitchen
Chef Berselius in his kitchen

 

A squid tart was in a crust of kelp with wild radishes.  It had an amazing smell  of horseradish that lingered in your nose after eating.  Really interesting and surprisingly no nasty taste of seaweed.  Very fun course.

Squid tart made with seaweed, charred squid and a pureee made from dulse
Squid tart made with seaweed, charred squid and a pureee made from dulse
Squid tart made with seaweed, charred squid and a pureee made from dulse
closer

 

Beef ribeye aged for 120 days was garnished with a bit of aged fat.  Served with a baby turnip and its greens, the beef was tender and nicely rare.  It had the really beefy and rich flavor of good aged beef.  A wonderful course.

Frankie admired the knife
Frankie admired the knife
beef 120 day dry aged rib eye, preserved red and black currants from alst year, cured beef fat
beef 120 day dry aged rib eye, preserved red and black currants from alst year, cured beef fat
closer
closer
baby turnip
baby turnip closer
beef closer
beef closer
kitchen hard at work
kitchen staff hard at work

 

A raw milk sorbet was topped with leaves of crabapple, black cherry blossoms and a lilac cordial.  The sorbet was really creamy with a sweet sauce,  Some of the flowers were bitter but they added a vegetable taste and texture to the sweet dish.  Thumbs up.

Lilac milk sorbet, cordial made from lilac and tree flowers
Lilac milk sorbet, cordial made from lilac and tree flowers
Frankie visited the kitchen
Frankie visited the kitchen

 

Birchwood ice cream was served with candied trumpet mushrooms and something I called the ultimate caramel.  YUM x 3!  This was some amazing chewiness combined with sweet goodness.

Birchwood ice cream made from birchwood with black trumpet mushrooms and woodruff
Birchwood ice cream made from birchwood with black trumpet mushrooms and woodruff
closer
closer
Some of the chefs with Frankie
Some of the chefs with Frankie

 

The final mignardise were caramelized white chocolate, which were nice and a little fruity, and blood fudge which was a good tangy and smooth combination.  A fine finish to a fun meal.

Mignardise: blood and rosehip - caramelized white chocolate, Kronan Swedish Punsch, sourdough malt powder
Mignardise: blood and rosehip – caramelized white chocolate, Kronan Swedish Punsch, sourdough malt powder
underneath
underneath
Chef with Frankie
Chef Fredrik Berselius with Frankie

 

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