400 5th Ave (between 36th and 37th St, Midtown West)
Fatty Kat Eats: Crudo di Passera, Trofie Nero, Spaghetti, White Label Burger
This post is about a 2 person meal. No, this is not a joke. This is real life...as long as you have Ai Fiori's corporate event planner as a roommate and friend. @chaodown really hooked it up this time. Thanks, fatty!
We got a few surprises from the kitchen starting with the Sardine Nicoise. The sardines were cured in-house, and each slice of fish sat upon a buttery crouton and egg emulsion. The chances of me ordering sardines from a menu are typically 0.1%, but if all sardines tasted like these, that percentage would shoot through the roof. The lightly dressed lolla rossa lettuce, tomatoes and olives also subdued much of the fishy flavor.
Holy fluke! The Crudo di Passera was completely mind blowing. The fluke sat above a bed of creme fraiche and olive oil. Most importantly, however, it was topped with a boatload of American Sturgeon caviar. In my world, this is as decadent as fish gets. I can't even look at this picture without drooling a little.
The Spaghetti with blue crab, lemon, bottarga and chilies was pretty out of this world. The chilies and lemon made the entire dish pop, while the bottarga provided an interesting texture. It was hard to eat because each bite felt like I was destroying a thing of beauty. In the end, my belly won (as usual).
I've heard about the Trofie Nero for so long, but now, I can finally vouch for its perfection. The curly strands of squid ink pasta reminded me of an old phone cord, which could always stretch and recoil without fail. The phenomenal "Ligurian" ragu consisted of diced cuttlefish, shrimp and scallop. The spiced mollica (bread crumbs) gave this dish a unique texture, very similar to the Spaghetti above. I want to eat this everyday, forever and ever.
Christine's White Label Burger was incredible, especially because I'm a mustard and pickle kind of girl. If you don't like those things, stop right there! Don't go any further. The beautiful bun was substantial enough to support the juicy patty, American cheese and bacon marmalade (OMG). I didn't think the pommes dauphines on the side were necessary, but it's not like anything stopped me from eating them.
I was very impressed with the Capresante. Restaurant scallops usually come out a little toasted on top and bottom. However, these scallops were soft throughout, yet I loved them that way. The buttery scallops mixed well with the sweet corn, chanterelles (my fave), frisee, pancetta and creamy polenta to create a rainbow of colors, flavors and textures. To answer your questions, yes, I found the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. It's now sitting in my belly.
The kitchen sent us 3 whole desserts. Amen. Unfortunately, we didn't love the Lemon Tart with Meringue. I'm not a huge fan of meringue to begin with, and the lemon custard was too tart.
Both of us liked the Chocolate and Pistachio Layer Cake. It wasn't too sweet or rich. The pistachio layer was particularly nutty, and the crunchy chocolate layer resembled a fancy oreo. The mousse layers were a little too dense for me, but I guess they held everything up and together.
Both of us were fans of the Raspberry Mille Feuille. Again, I thought the mousse layers were too dense, but the flavors were on point. The mille feuille (thousand layers) part of the dessert was very crispy and broke apart easily.
Ai Fiori is quite the fancy spot. Mostly suits and rich mothers from Long Island eat there, but hey, everyone deserves good food. The beautiful dining rooms and impeccable service were not lost upon us either. I almost felt like I had to be on my best behavior.