We have been eagerly awaiting the return of Frej, one of our favorite restaurants in NYC of 2012. Taking the place of Frej is a new venture lead solo by Fredrik Berselius and a staff of well trained Scandinavians in the ever so hyped, Kinfolk Studio space. The long wait came fully transformed from the Frej days: a modification to the kitchen (now open to the dinning area), bigger tables, our favorite Hans J. Wegner wishbone chairs, yes cozy cushions on the chairs as @laissezfare pointed out and moody lighting around the epic hawk wall painting…nice touch. What else has changed? Well the menu has increased from 45 to 65. Not surprising really, those cute swedes in the kitchen need survive in this expensive city somehow. In addition to the price hike there is also a shift in the beverage dept herald in by Eamon Rockey. The wine list is a solid one that will hold up to any wine aficionado’s standards. The sommelier, previously of Blue Hill Stone Barns, is a warm guy, brimming with knowledge and explained each wine from the pairing with passion and finesse. If you are curious to learn more about some of the more obscure wines I highly recommend the pairing.
What is nice about a small restaurant is the level of intimacy you have with the food on your plate. Each dish is proudly placed before you by the hands of its creator. It is a fantastic moment between chef and diner, one where a ever so small transference of knowledge takes place. It’s these intimate moments, in my mind, that make these dinners sometimes more special than your standard “fine dinning” experience.
As far as the food goes we were overall very excited!! Each of the snacks that we started of with were very thoughtfully composed. Every element on the plate, no matter how small, like the singular Sea Buckthorn Berry, served a critical role in developing the overall flavor journey. If the snacks were any indication of what was to come we were certainly in very good hands.
Even though we dined at Frej three times there was little from the previous experience that managed to make its way through onto the Aska menu. The only dish that was familiar was the potato onion and Mackerel. I had a fondness for this one in particular due to the cuteness of the little bean sized potatoes, not to mention the delicate flavors of the fish. While all dishes were quite good there were certainly some better than others. The aged Broccoli had an element of whimsy present and was beautiful propped upon a heavy dollop of a mussel and seaweed mouse. This course came without any hint of silverware. That was ok for it was clear that one was to use their hands, fine by me. I did notice, however, that one lady in the dining area was uncomfortable with this… seriously people?!! Live a little.
The flow and progression between each dish methodically built from light up to a rich sweet and savory finale of Pork Trotters and apple. The dessert was thankfully on the lighter side featuring the wonderful combination of cardamon, brown butter and hazelnut. Whats not to love there?
Overall what a wonderful night. It is obvious that Fredrik is a talented chef and we are certain that once the team gets comfortable working together things can only get progressively tastier! Jose and I better get on the phone asap and make another reservation before they all get scooped up. Seriously folks, if these pics are making your salivary glands come to life, as they are mine, you better act fast or you may loose your opportunity. This place is only going to get more popular, possibly more than Frej!
Aska at Kinfolk Studios
90 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg Brooklyn