Atera

Some of the city’s most serious food is being served in this tiny, tucked-away Tribeca restaurant.  You’re probably aware of this as you’ve made your reservation far in advance, after all. Chef, Ronny Emborg brings a Danish-influenced tasting menu to the table, paired with wine and juice offerings. The barman will ask: Would you like a cocktail? There’s no list, but he’s happy to announce the day’s offering aloud—on a recent visit these included a tangy rhubarb beer shrub and a winning Vesper variation bestowed with a single large ice cube. Then suddenly the “snacks” begin to arrive, a jaunty designation that belies the complexity of these largely delightful smaller bites that will make up the first third or so of your 20-some courses.

At some point – most likely after an all-white dish of the freshest raw scallops available topped with dehydrated buttermilk shards and a sort of yuzu sorbet; and after a delicate salad of herbs and flowers laced with ruby-red folds of what you’re told is duck-tongue prosciutto – the chef himself might present you with a dish and ask you to identify it. You will fail at this. Yet that dish, which falls right in the middle, is the meal’s apex of mixed signals. Unlike some of the other well-known tasting-menu-style repasts, every element of surprise here is firmly rooted in what should be the priority: flavor. Really, few courses are without some adornment of herbs of blossoms, which reflects Lightner’s obsession with local, wild foods. In this way, the experience is more akin to entering the temple of one of the world’s finest sushi chefs than placing oneself in some modern-day culinary mad scientist’s hands. Come to think of it, that stack-up of medical signs out front is reminiscent of what you’ll encounter on the way to locating some of the finest tucked-away restaurants in Tokyo. There – and here – the discovery is more than worth it.