One of my top picks for dining in New York is the 2-star Michelin restaurant Aska, located at 47 South 5th Street in Williamsburg Brooklyn. Helmed by Swedish chef Fredrik Berselius. It is not a new restaurant, it opened at its first location in 2012, where within a year, he earned his first Michelin star and Bon Appetit named Aska one of the ten best restaurants in America. In the summer of 2016, Aska opened its new location in a restored 1860’s warehouse, near the edge of the Williamsburg Bridge. Then within months, earned their second Michelin star as well as a 3-star rating in a New York Times review by Pete Wells.
With an emphasis on sourcing the finest ingredients from his Scandinavian homeland as well as the Northeastern region of the United States, you will find the most inspiring dining experience of seasonal food with Nordic influences.
We pulled up to a painted black brick unassuming building and entered inside a dimly lit space where everything was black from the walls, ceiling, tablecloths, napkins, chairs, and even the green egg outside in the back garden were painted black. This way, the unique dishware, and the food shine. They left the original wood and steel beams from 1860. It is all very minimalist and no artwork or flowers on the tables. There are only ten tables, plus a small private room in the back that will hold about eight people.
There was a procession of thirteen small courses and the meal took about 3 hours, where the chefs in the open kitchen serve you the dishes they created.
I can rarely say that every dish is outstanding, but at Aska, everything was prepared to the highest level. The menu reflects a deep connection to the land, where ingredients are sourced from local farmers, and foraged from nearby forests, and the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Each small bite was a work of art, imaginative and attractively presented. The flavours of sauces that accompanied most of the dishes had a concentrated and beautiful combination of flavours, highlighting the meticulous technique of Chef Berselius and his kitchen full of chefs. Our spring menu focused on a lot of fish and seafood. We also had a venison and quail dish. We were lucky to enjoy three dishes that were crowned with different types of high-quality caviar. There were also two lobster plates.
The journey began with three small bites and I loved the crispy seaweed with a blue mussel emulsion. My husband adored the compressed kohlrabi with linden leaf oil and linden flower vinaigrette. It was difficult to choose our favourite standouts, but some of our highlights were the grilled langoustine tail from Norway that was so sweet and delicate in a sauce of caramelized shell and red gooseberry. Also, hake with Kaluga caviar, Swedish dark beer, and flowering dill. The venison from Millbrook, New York with black sunchoke and morel mushrooms was so succulent and tender. The chef is a master of sauces, and each one was memorable.
There were 4 sweet items on the menu. The small tarts with preserved berries, custard, and black walnuts were our favourite.
There are no cocktails offered, only champagne, wine, and sake. The emphasis is on natural and biodynamic wines from small producers. The sommelier knows the details of every wine and vineyard. There are wine and juice pairings and some offerings by the glass as well. Not every wine was to my liking, but you can bring your own wine for a hefty $100 per bottle.
My only complaint for the whole evening is that there is only one bathroom in the restaurant and there are often lineups.
I found everyone who worked there was warm, friendly, professional, and knowledgeable.
Aska provides a delightful evening and brilliant and distinctive dining experience that stands apart from so many other fine dining experiences in New York. Although it has an ambitious and adventurous menu for some, it is not a challenging one, like Vespertine in Los Angeles where almost every dish tasted like twigs and leaves. My impressions overall were extremely favorable and have given me memories that I won’t soon forget.