Finally, Chef Fredrik Berselius has opened this second incarnation of Aska, and it is already a must on any serious diner's list. The cuisine is his own Nordic fusion of the Northeast's bounty, importing as little as possible and showcasing produce from the Catskills, as well as the restaurant's own plot at the nearby Farm on Kent. The interior has a theatrical quality; the dining room is purposefully dark as if to heighten its contrast with the overly bright open kitchen. Chefs often come forward to present certain courses, as if breaking the fourth wall. The heart of Aska's innovation is in its use of myriad cooking techniques, like fermentation, smoking, and preserving. Elements of dining here are more about discovery than comfort, and may focus on an introduction to new tastes. Lamb's heart slowly cooked with hay down to ash served with pickled sunchoke purée is unforgettable, but whether it is pleasurable may be a source of debate. The carefully composed Finnish Carelian caviar with grilled onion bulbs, cultured cream, and ramp seeds in a complex lemon verbena-onion broth is extraordinary in presentation and flavor. Courses may ebb and flow, but the overall experience is fantastic.
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