CHOWHOUNDS: If a magazine’s health can be measured by the kinds of parties it throws, then Bon Appétit would appear to be in excellent shape.
Its latest affair was held Monday night in the new BA Kitchen, a fancy, multifunctional event space tucked into a corner on the fourth floor of 4 Times Square. Manhattan “foodies” wasted no time to rsvp, because chef of the moment Matt Lightner was cooking. His new TriBeCa spot, Atera, has only 14 seats, and it’s at least four weeks before diners can score a table there. “My dad is flying into town, and I didn’t think we’d have room for him,” said Lightner. “But we were able to figure it out.”
This story first appeared in the April 11, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
He wasn’t joking. Early hype of the new restaurant has been over the top, including Henry Blodget, who posted 45 pictures of his dining experience on Business Insider and called it the “most amazing restaurant in the world.” Dell’anima’s Joe Campanale tweeted, “blown away at Atera over and over again..will be thinking about this meal for a long time.”
For the design-heavy crowd sitting in the BA Kitchen, which included Celerie Kemble and Boykin Curry, Michael Tavano and Joe Carini, Lightner served a six-course meal that involved crab served with rose geranium, lamb with sassafras and nettles, “rock” and “birch sap and birch tree.” “You didn’t know you were going to eat the forest today, now did you?” said Tavano, who designed the foraged tablescape using branches, cherry blossoms, ferns and beaver-cut wood from his garden in the Hudson Valley. Kemble arrived a few minutes late, straight from the airport. It’s a meal she didn’t want to miss. “When I saw this on the calendar, I wasn’t sure I could make it work, but who could miss this opportunity?” A few minutes later, she tasted the “lamb and the pasture,” with sassafras, nettles and foliage. “This is really weird, right?”
At the end of the evening, Lightner sat back in the kitchen, watching his guests try the last course of black walnut. A recent transplant from Portland, Ore., he was asked if this kind of event makes him nervous. “No, not this,” he said. “I’m just waiting for the reviews to start coming in. After that, I’ll be fine.”