pom couscous

pom steak

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

The Stand
Los Angeles
by Lisa Dinsmore

standoutside.jpg Not only were we celebrating our nation’s birthday this past weekend, but the birthdays of two of our closest friends as well, one born on the 4th, one on the 5th. Since nothing says summer like...

Read more...
Little Beast Comes to Eagle Rock
Los Angeles
by Lisa Dinsmore

littlebeastmenuI really needed a night out. Life has been conspiring against us lately, but it could be worse. Tired of being homebound and cooking three meals a day, I was desperate for a a little culinary...

Read more...
B & G Oysters
Boston
by Kitty Kaufman

bg 3B & G Oysters is one of those places that took off on Day One or at least that's how I remember it. We've had lunch there for years, not years and years, but enough to know that every oyster's...

Read more...
One Night in Jerome
Arizona
by Lisa Dinsmore

jerome22.jpgOne of the things I love most about traveling is finding out-of-the-way places to visit. Especially ones that have a cool history to go along with their surroundings. Which is how we found...

Read more...