We had been to the Great Northern Food Hall this fall that is the brainchild of Claus Meyer, the founder of New Nordic Cuisine. After spending sometime in that part of the world I knew what to expect. The flavor profiles are different and there is a surge of interest in them on this side of the globe. His timing is impeccable for Agern, the jewel restaurant of the hall.
I admit that it is entertaining walking through Grand Central on a Saturday night with the throng of commuters to get to Agern. Once you walk into Agern you have entered a warm, friendly, modern restaurant that makes you completely forget where you are. The plot of land next to Grand Central is completely empty awaiting a development which allows Grand Central to just shine.
The menu highlights two different tasting menus as options or you can order a la carte. None of us were excited about a tasting menu so we opted for our own picks. We started with snacks. It was our way of having the tasting menu without going for the whole shooting match. It is the perfect way to start the meal. Oyster, celeriac wrapped over a mixture of vegetables and a warm crispy mashed potato bite (like a tater tot) stuffed with mushrooms.
Out next is the bread and butter. You can’t have enough of this. The butter is whipped and intense with a rich flavor. We ate two of these loaves and asked for butter twice.
This looks like bread but only half of it is. The small squares are pieces of warm luscious rye bread that is soft and almost cooked. The big round piece looks like a scone but it is a beet wrapped in a vegetable salt and ash and then roasted. They break it open like a salt encrusted fish and divide it into four. Then scoop out each piece from the skin into quarters that goes on top of a salad. It is brilliant and delicious.
The beet salad it shaved pieces of beet root, caraway and huckleberries. Take the small loaves of bread, slather it with butter and put the beet root salad on top. Delicious.
We also had the arctic char. Raw pieces of fish combined with pieces of pumpkin, apple and pumpkin oil. Light and tasty.
We might have confused the wait staff but it honestly worked out fine because I left not stuffed. Two people shared the guinea hen and someone else ordered the striped bass. I decided to do the guinea hen too but somehow they divided the guinea hen into 3 portions. Small pieces of juicy guinea hen combined with sunchokes squares toasted with spicy greens and a Nordic bbq sauce.
We each got a leg.
This is the fish which I did not taste. Striped bass over grilled lettuce and fennel.
We moved into dessert. I do enjoy the nordic flavors but have a hard time with the desserts. The one thing we did do which was pretty cool was have a bottle of mead. Mead is an alcohol created by fermenting honey dating back to 6500 bc. Just a note that their entire wine list is only Americans wines too. This dessert was my favorite of the three. Chocolate mousse with burned butter, almonds and plums.
Dark berries is gin, beet root and smoke.
Roasted apples, granita and oats.
We also had the “sweets” like the “snacks” that is four chocolates. I really love the presentation.
Here is the last chocolate filled with a licorice flavor. All and all a wonderful time, a really good meal and I am still thinking about the bread and butter.