Atera is made up of 12 seats at a u-shaped bar surrounding an open kitchen. There is an additional table in the back for a group of 6. Chef Ronny Emborg was in the kitchen with several other chefs but most of the interaction is with the service staff who are a delightful bunch. The chefs presented and described the dishes but the kitchen doesn’t have much banter. Lots of good smells greet you when you enter the room as well as old rock music and lowered lighting. Wood walls and ceiling are matched with dark curtains – all of which help dampen sound – give the room a cozy yet elegant feel. There is very little noise in the room and conversations tended to be hushed and private throughout the evening. It is a surprise tasting menu only, a copy of which is given to you when you leave. Two seatings are offered every night at this 2 star Michelin restaurant which nicely scales the portion sizes of the 18 course menu.
They nicely start you with a warm moist towel and many of the first bites are hand food.
Lime snow was combined with warm juniper foam for a refreshing drink with a fun mix of temperatures and textures.
Razor Clam, Leek, and Nori was a seaweed tart with a wheat crust topped with razor clam pieces. It was extremely fresh tasting and a work of art. The flavors were mild but nice.
Oyster, Yusu and Shallot was a Washington oyster in the shell with olive oil. The seasoning brought out the best of the sweet bright oyster. It was excellent.
Tuna, Waffle and Sunchoke was a summer truffle on a warm tasty waffle. The tuna was fairly mild and blended great with truffle. Another artfully assembled piece that also tasted great.
Golden Osetra Caviar, Pistachio and IPA was creme fraiche with pistachio ice cream and caviar. An inspired combination that was totally tasty. Every combination of ingredients worked.
King Crab, Tomato and Rose Hip cream was peeled multi-color small tomatoes with rose hip cream, dill broth and mild sweet crab shreds. The red tomatoes were better tasting than the yellow ones but both were fine. The crab had a great texture to add to the dish, but I would have added a touch of salt to bring out the extremely fresh flavors more.
Squid, Sugar Snap Pea and White Miso was spaghetti shaped squid pieces with a confit egg and snap peas in a white miso sauce. The squid strips were very tender and the pea shoots were filled with fresh pea flavor. The sauce brought out the best in all the ingredients and the egg added a bit of richness to it. This was a really good one.
Halibut, Cauliflower and Brown Butter was perfectly cooked halibut with a ginger butter sauce and topped with cauliflower and pea tendrils. Some cauliflower purée was beside the moist fish. The sauce was nicely rich and worked great with the fish and purée. It was a lovely combination of flavors and textures.
Whole wheat bread and butter was next. The butter was topped with bits of potato chips and the sour dough bread was house made and served warm. Both were yummy. The fun crunch on the butter was novel and tasty. The bread was lighter than the look would suggest with a less dense interior.
White Asparagus, Truffle and Walnut was white asparagus pieces topped with an Austrian trumpet mushroom, truffles and served aside a sabayon sauce. A bit of truffle oil was in the sauce which really brought out the truffle flavor. A very rich, nice dish that didn’t achieve the richness through butter.
Oxtail, Cabbage and Finger Lime was a cabbage leaf cut in a round and folded like a taco then filled with well done and shredded oxtail, chervil and pickled finger lime. Mustard greens garnished the “taco” and the bits of lime made a little pop when you got a piece. The meat was tender and not at all dry. It was good and very savory.
Duck, Pear, Cranberry and Hazelnut used dry aged Long Island duck breast. The sauce was made from duck bits and reduced to an intense, sticky and thick consistency. Alongside was a piece of pear poached in wine and a sorrel leaf. The nicely rare duck was excellent with not a hint of liver taste. It was another good one.
Strawberry, Coconut and Ginger was in 2 dishes. The lovely piece of strawberry was served in an excellent ginger sauce – a wonderful combination of flavors. The coconut was topped with crisp milk slices and coconut sticks. The milk crisps were really fun and added a good textural contrast. All the ingredients here were good alone and also good when mixed into any number of combinations.
Meyer Lemon, Skyr and Thyme were served in an orange half. The Skyr is yogurt like and the Meyer lemon combined with some jelly like tapioca. It was in several layers that all were really yummy. I loved all the textures in the sweet fruit and silky custard. Everything was really intensely flavored and perfectly balanced. A winner.
A flurry of final treats finished the meal. White Sturgeon Caviar and Dulce De Leche was really different and quite good. Lemongrass and Rhubarb was a custard like bit in a sweet rhubarb sauce. Sweet and creamy – a perfect combination. Red Miso Caramel was milk chocolate strips filled with miso caramel. A total yum here. Sorghum and Peanut was popped sorghum and white chocolate in a messy delight to eat.