Michelin-starred chef Fredrik Berselius made a name for himself with his first Nordic restaurant in Brooklyn. Now, returning from self-imposed exile with a new version of his much-lauded Aska, his imaginative, clever creations are back in full effect
One does not often go searching for Michelin stars under the industrial ribs of an overpass, but Aska – Brooklyn’s New Nordic gem hidden along a lugubrious stretch of concrete beneath the Williamsburg Bridge – demands pilgrimage. The two Michelin-starred restaurant, which opened in July last year, is a reincarnation of sorts. Swedish-born chef Fredrik Berselius’s first iteration (also named Aska and located in Williamsburg) was hardly short on acclaim, fêted for surprising compositions like pig-blood crackers with sea-buckthorn jam at a time when the New Nordic craze was all but ubiquitous. In 2014, however, much to the chagrin of his droves of devotees, Berselius abruptly shuttered the restaurant, claiming he wanted a new challenge.
Aska 2.0, however moody its setting may be, is a vibrant leap forward from Berselius’s previous outpost. The new 10- and 19-course tasting menus (priced from £120 to £175, service included) offer a broad juxtaposition of subtle and rich flavours that only really make sense when consumed together.
Throughout the meal, diners can expect more than a few twists (Jerusalem artichokes sprinkled with lamb-heart ashes, for example). In his delicate construction of each plate, Berselius also displays a penchant for cleverly hiding his main ingredients: langoustine arrives wrapped in a pretty bouquet of herbs and flowers, while razor clams lie in wait beneath a blanket of green peas and elderflower petals.
Everything is fresh as can be; Berselius and his team forage for juniper berries, chickweed, yarrow, or sorrel, depending on the season. Still, a few special items – Karelian caviar, Wrångebäck cheese – require pilgrimages of their own, beyond the imposing steel trusses of the Williamsburg Bridge, and back to the Scandinavian motherland. askanyc.com