A High Class Lunch at Ai Fiori

by Michael Tucker
Print Email

ai-fioriThe Big Dog and I lunched this afternoon at Ai Fiori, The Big Dog is my high-priced attorney. We were discussing some ultra-subtle legal maneuver that could only be fully investigated in a very, very good Italian restaurant. You’ll be happy to know that we solved all our problems — and everyone else’s, as well. It was a very nice lunch.

Ai Fiori is a Michael White creation. I had dined at his Marea after everybody told me this guy made the best pasta in town. I was concerned about this because I thought I made the best pasta in town. Well, okay, he gets paid for it and justifiably so.

Ai Fiori is sleek and rich. It’s on the second floor, which allows a nice light through the windows and a quiet midtown buzz. It’s in the Setai Hotel, which is a lovely new hotel on Fifth Avenue just below Thirty-Seventh Street.

The lunch menu is prix fixe – a choice of any two courses for thirty-six bucks, which given the quality of food, has to be one of the best deals in town.

I started with the veal agnolotti, which is a signature dish. It’s described on the menu as “braised veal parcels, caramelized onions. Ramp pesto, pine nuts” – all of which were there and all very good. But the first thing that hits the mouth is a surprisingly sweet butternut-squash puree, which sets up your palate for the tastes to come. It’s great and a total surprise. Then the ramps; then the pine nuts – crunch, crunch — very nice.

agnolotti-300x300ai-fiori-lambchop-225x300

I followed up with the lamb chop with mint, peas and a goat-cheesy sauce. Again, it was delicious. If I had to carp at all, it would be that the preparation of the chop itself was a tad French for my country Italian sensibilities; I like a little crust on the outside of my lamb chop to frame the rosy, yielding sweetness inside. A small quibble.

This all went down beautifully with a glass of a red blend from Liguria, called Colli di Luni rosso La Almagesto. It was delightful, but not aggressively so. I like when the wine turns the show over to the food rather than commanding the stage itself. Okay, I had two glasses.

The Big Dog had a lobster salad and a glass of Sancerre. He registered no complaints.

 

AI FIORI: Setai Hotel Fifth Avenue, 2nd floor, 400 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10018 - (212) 613-8660

Michael Tucker is an actor and author whose third book is the recently published Family Meals: Coming Together to Care for an Aging Parent.  You can read more about his food adventures on his blog Notes from a Culinary Wasteland.

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

 

restaurant news

A Trip to New York and a Culinary Discovery
New York
by David Latt

lattny1.jpgGoing to New York is always a treat.  Like everyone else, I love walking around the city.  A leisurely stroll through Central Park when the flowering trees are in bloom is one of life's great...

Read more...
A Visit to S.Y. Kitchen
Southern California
by Lisa Dinsmore

SYoutsideWhile we find ourselves in Santa Barbara wine country, also known as the Santa Ynez Valley, about every other month or so, I can honestly say I had never been to the actual town of Santa Ynez...

Read more...
Delicious Authentic Mexican Dishes at La Sandia
Los Angeles
by David Latt

img 1235La Sandia Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar shares the top floor of Santa Monica Place with half a dozen other restaurants, the Food Court and the Market.

You'll recognize La Sandia by the crowded...

Read more...
Rivera
Los Angeles
by Maia Harari

pch.jpgI love food. And I love going out to eat and trying new places. And I love talking about food. In fact, I love food so much that whenever I'm eating I actually try not to get too full so that...

Read more...