Alexia had the opportunity to attend a dinner last week as part of Kid’s Table, hosted by chef Claus Meyer. The younger sister of Food Republic’s associate editor George Embiricos, Alexia recently turned 13 years old. Here’s her (unedited) take on the experience.
Last Tuesday, my friend and I had the amazing opportunity of dining at one of New York City’s best Scandinavian restaurants: the brand-new Agern. We were promised the best three-course meal one could ever imagine, so we headed into the restaurant with high expectations. Immediately after stepping foot into the room, we were greeted by many smiling waiters who politely led us to our table, treating us like adults and repeatedly asking us if everything was fine.
While waiters poured us apple-and-currant juice, which was the perfect combination of sweet and bitter, we looked around us in awe at the high pillars, chandeliers and lots of flowers. With the dimmed lights and soft music, we really felt like two adults with refined taste palates, dining at a fancy restaurant. Since there were so many kids in the restaurant, we had to share a table with two others. It was a little bit annoying, as the younger one straight-up refused to eat anything (except for sunflower seeds, which the staff quickly brought her after she requested them) and the older one was very loud. At first we tried to talk with them, but they made it clear that they weren’t really interested, so we mostly just ignored each other.
Before we knew it, bread was being delivered to our table, accompanied by salted butter on a rock. The bread, made out of a special grain found in Denmark, was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and I would have eaten it all if it were not for the meal ahead.
As soon as the waiter saw that we were done eating, he promptly served us our long-awaited appetizer: raw fluke with turnips, topped with dill, under a buttermilk and dill-oil sauce. Even though I am a fan of raw fish, I can imagine some younger children having a hard time with the fluke, so I was a little surprised with the chef’s decision to serve us raw fish. The whole experience, however, was about trying new dishes, so I think it was a well thought-out choice. The fluke was perfectly chewy, and the turnips added a great burst of texture. I don’t really like dill by itself, but I thought it combined well with the buttermilk. This dish had many different components that worked together to create a delicious flavor, so overall, I was very impressed.
The next part of our meal was the main course: lamb with mashed potatoes, topped with shredded apples and celery. The mashed potatoes were heavenly. Creamy, smooth and seasoned with salt and pepper, they were the star of the meal. The apples and celery balanced each other out, and I liked how the chef took something that could be really simple and made it unique. The lamb was tender and juicy, but a little overcooked, probably because parents might have complained if it was rare. Altogether, the course was scrumptious and my expectations were still being met.
It was time for the third and final course, the one that we had been waiting for all day: dessert. We were delivered panna cotta, with rhubarb, rhubarb powder and buckwheat. The different colors and textures of the plate made it look really appetizing and it made my mouth water. The cream tasted a lot like yogurt and a little bitter, but in a good way. The buckwheat and the rhubarb powder were really flavorful, and the rhubarb pieces just added to the whole effect. In total, this was definitely my favorite course of the day.
As we were about to leave, our waiter asked us if we wanted to see the kitchen. We got a guided tour of all parts, including the pastry area, the refrigerator, the pantry, the meat area and even more. I was shocked at the size of the kitchen. I had never been in a restaurant kitchen before. The space was humongous, and there were many different stations, with people doing different things. There seemed to be an organized system, and everything was really busy and surprisingly neat. I especially loved going into the big fridge, which had every type of food that I could ever imagine.
On our way out, we got to sample a Danish pancake, which is a ball of pancake dough with a jam filling; hands-down the best pancake I have ever had. The entire staff graciously thanked us for dining at Agern as we walked out, which was the perfect way to end our experience.