Last summer, when I caught word of a pop-up restaurant in Williamsburg called Frej, I jumped right on securing a table to see for myself what Chefs Fredrik Berselius and Richard Kuo were up to…or at least I intended to. I slept on it a little too long and by the time I made a legit attempt to schedule a dinner I was met with a message of the restaurant’s mysterious closing and their ambiguous time frame of reopening. So I missed out on that one. Though when I heard of the space within Kinfolk Studios being reborn as Aska, I made sure that I was among the first in line to take a bite of Berselius’s food…or at least I intended to.
It wasn’t until about two months after Aska’s opening that I ran into Eamon Rockey(the ex-GM, who recently left the company) and promised that I would be in to dine soon. A week later, there I was with camera in hand and Rocky(my Rocky, not Eamon) by my side ready for dinner. We ordered a couple cocktails and a bottle of Champagne, then we were ready to rock.
A few snacks to start:
Molasses shortbread with smoked cheese. Warm flavors with a touch of sweetness.
Scallop and dill. A savory crispy chip with an unmistakable scallop taste.
Pig blood chip with sea buckthorn berry. How very Nordic. Tart berries with dry, bitter bloodiness.
Bread service. Crisps and caraway rolls with salted local butter.
Oyster, cucumber, rapeseed. A nice opener, Rhode Island oysters. The cucumber was great for a fresh balance to the brine of the oyster.
Herring, potato, juniper. A delicious fish. Delightfully crispy head and tail. Served with a shot of aquavit, onion juice, and whey. I thought the pairing was bad ass. Distinctively Scandinavian.
Sunchoke, trotter, apple. Crispy trotter with apple puree, raw sunchoke, and woodruff powder. The dynamic was nice between the pork richness, the sweet acidic apple, and the raw root earthiness.
Roots, egg yolk, lamb. Salsify, sunchoke, slow cooked yolk, and lamb heart and tongue in a broth of winter leaves and lichen. I loved the savoriness of the broth with the meat. A very nice plate of food.
Monkfish, cabbage, bay leaf. What at first looks like a plate of cabbage leaves, punches, and puree, reveals a cut of monkfish and its liver. A pretty strong contrast melded together with a sauce of pork & monkfish stock with bay leaf and rose hip.
Beef, rutabaga, hay. A good size piece of beef short rib with rutabaga, some fermented, some not, with reduced cream and beef stock. From Rocky: ‘Damn. [dramatic pause] This is delicious! Holy balls. This is unhealthy.’ And a little later: ‘This is a fantastic dish. Super-hella-rich, but this is awesome!’ Well said.
A little pre-dessert of frozen whey, lingonberry, oat chip. These little guys were amazing.
Cardamom, brown butter, hazelnut. A delicious, nutty serving of cardamom ice cream with brown butter mousse, hazelnuts, and hazelnut powder.
Following dessert we moved from the more formal part of the space out to the casual bar area to finish up our bottle of bubbles and glasses of Sherry.
Eamon gave us a little plate of cookies. He called them ‘Dreams’ and said he hoped they made our dreams come true.
Date of visit: January 28, 2013
Aska. 90 Wythe Avenue. Brooklyn, NY 718.388.2969 http://askanyc.com