Aska: How much food do you get in those 6 courses?
Finding the reservation system rather daunting, I'm wondering whether Aska's really worth the effort. Every description/photo set of a meal there (for example: http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2012/1...) shows artfully prepared, aesthetically pleasing dishes, but little substance. Will I actually leave the $65 meal satisfied?
Your instincts are correct, OP. The arty "minimalism" of this place is hilarious! Thank God for the bread basket (the refill of which required two requests and a fifteen-minute wait), otherwise we would have left hungry.
Sidebar: ANY restaurant that refuses bread to a patron (are you listening, Calliope?) or has a problem "gladly" refilling the basket doesn't deserve to be in business, IMO.
What is daunting about the reservation system? It's as straightforward as it gets - go to the page, open the calendar, it tells you which dates have openings, and you pick one. How much less complicated could it be?
As to the meal: I and my two companions left pretty stuffed. It was a little heavy on root veggies, I'll admit, but for $65 you're not going to get a 16 oz. slab of Wagyu or anything. The breads are great and they keep them flowing through the meal if you like.
I didn't go for the pairings - stuck with beer, which I feel is a better pairing for Scandinavian food than wine - but I imagine they do a good job with them.
I'll definitely be back, probably pretty regularly as the menu seems to change frequently - our menu was almost entirely different than one I'd seen blogged just a week before our visit.
There seem to be more reservations appearing on their web site now. Tables are for 2 or 4. For larger parties, it is necessary to email your request.
Since I was the original poster on this thread, I should add that I ate at Aska earlier this week and certainly found the meal to be filling. It is really a 10+ course meal, with several amuses and a bread course. It is quite a good meal, with some inventiveness. Not every course is a winner, but, at the current price of $65, it is money extremely well-spent. Service is excellent and the beverage pairing is also priced well and capably executed. This is NOT my review, but for photos of a meal identical to mine, take a look at:
Having been to Frej twice I was initially skeptical. But after our meal last Sunday I can confidently say you will be satisfied. $65 price includes a series of "snacks" (5 in our meal), followed by a bread basket with two types of breads made in house. We had six savory courses before a pre-dessert and a more substantial dessert. In addition, the servers will gladly refill your bread basket throughout the duration of your meal. If you're still hungry you could order off the bar menu...
Despite the inevitable buzz surrounding a restaurant like this I highly recommend trying to get reservations. Aska feels like a more mature Frej for those that went. Like the tastings at Battersby and Gywnnett St. I feel the food is an excellent value and a worthy experience.
In case you were wondering about Aska's beverage program there are a number of house cocktails as well as a wine list. However, we chose to do a pairing ($35) and were satisfied. Included was a cider, aquavit, two whites, a red, a dessert wine and homemade bitters offered as a digestif that were topped off.
Thanks for one of the best, most articulate answers to my many questions asked here on Chowhound through the years. The tasting menu at Gwynett St. was one of the best meals, and best values, I've had in recent months. I'll grab the next table that opens on Aska's web site. Just wish I could book here like I book anywhere else...with a simple phone call.