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The Early Word on Matthew Lightner's Atera

Krieger, 03/29/11

Atera, the seasonally-minded and stylish new restaurant from Matthew Lightner, has been open for just about two weeks now. It has an open kitchen, an small dining room, a "living wall," and houses a greenhouse in the basement. Lightner is only offering a $150 tasting menu filled with dishes featuring foraged goods, and according to the early word from commenters and bloggers, the food and experience are worth the price tag. Take a look at what people are saying ahead.

The Can't Stop Thinking About It News: Dell'Anima's Joe Campanale is a big fan: "Blown away at Atera over and over again..will be thinking about this meal for a long time." And he still wasn't over his meal the next day: "Just went for a run and thought about my incredible meal at Atera the entire time..really powerful when a meal can stay with you." [Twitter]

The Good News: The blogger behind Wordsmithing Pantagruel gives a detailed account of his meal; here are some of the highlights: "Given that my dinner there was on only the second night of official opening to the public, I would normally be loathe to post a review, but in this particular instance there were so few kinks and the service was so smooth that I hardly think it a disservice to do so." And on one of the many courses served: "I loved the "razor clam" (pictured above) that followed, razor clam sliced (and another creamy preparation) with ice lettuce on an air baguette, cleverly painted to resemble a razor clam shell. These few bites reminded me somewhat of a lighter, brinier lobster roll, but that description probably doesn't do it justice. Excellent." [Wordsmithing Pantagruel]

More Good News: An Eater commenter was impressed by the service: "I went last night and they have it together; they acted like they'd been open for a year instead of a week." [Eater Comments]

The Great (and Possible Shill) News: The lone reviewer on OpenTable gave the restaurant a suspiciously glowing review: "Amazing place! Great new venue for a special occasion. Great attention to detail. Food was creative and plated with much thought. Loved the seating around the kitchen. Staff was knowledgable about food and menu." [OpenTable]

The Mostly Bad News: A Chowhounder thought the food was inconsistent, the service was bad, and had some gripes with the wine service: "Judging from a recent dinner, Atera has a long way to go. Some dishes made us want to go back, the wine service didn't....Out of a number of 'tastes' at the beginning, one was excellent, an edible faux razor clam shell, with razor clam inside...The main part of the tasting menu felt a little inconsistent -- 2 of the 8 savory dishes were outstanding: a beet 'ember', where the beet had achieved an amazing brittleness, inspirationally paired with shellfish sauce and trout roe; and a brilliant fluke and onion dish, where the raw fish had been shredded with a scallop shell and where the textures were soft-silky and the saucing deeply savory. They should bottle the sauce!...Unfortunately, our dinner was also overshadowed by a truly strange experience ordering wine. Unlike similar long tasting menus in Europe, where the restaurants do not make a big deal about ordering a single bottle for the entire meal, Atera is very insistent about the need to 'drink something sparkling, followed by a white, followed by a light red, followed by a fuller red, followed by a dessert wine'!...Aside from the frankly incompetent and shady wine service we received, the servers also had a bad habit of trying to take away my food when I clearly hadn't finished. They did it three times, and even told me I should pace myself, not eat everything! This was quite rude...Dinner for 2 with wine at Atera is going to set you back at least $500 (probably closer to $700) and for that price the restaurant needs to be better! Otherwise, people will be heading elsewhere." [Chowhound]

And Now, Some Love from the Twitterverse: Frederika Brookfield (from Bon Appétit's PR team) loves it: "Just had an off the chart food experience at Chef Matt Lightner's Atera. Hurry, hurry there. Foraged finds presented as art and delicious!" [Twitter]

— Claire Nugent


77 Worth Street, Manhattan, NY 10013 (212) 226-1444 Visit Website


77 Worth Street, New York, NY