Why You May Wear Jeans at Asiate

Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental in the Time Warner Center isn’t the type of place you should wear jeans.

But you can.

That’s because the staff is so well trained that you will never know that you look hopelessly out of place. The only reason that they exist is to make you feel like the most important diner they have ever had the pleasure-  nay, privilege – of serving.

It probably sounds over the top.

But this was some excellent service.

Asiate serves Asian inspired seasonal food in an absolutely beautiful dining room with the best views of Central Park on the planet. Really, it’s just a solid wall of plate glass and there you are, 60 floors above one of the world’s iconic views. The decor is zen but by no means minimalist. It’s very chic and high end.

And so is the food.

IMG_20131031_123112_099 Gougeres

Light, cheesy gougeres are flecked with bits of garlicky parsley pesto. It’s the sort of unexpected touch that is found everywhere in the restaurant – it takes something classic, and then puts an elegant twist on it that makes the dish memorable  IMG_20131031_124427_909 Amuse bouche

A mild yellowtail sashimi topped with crispy potato chips. Light, playful, and savory. It’s an excellent start to any meal.  IMG_20131031_125325_745 Squash soup

This is an example of the flawless service at Asiate. I ordered only a main course but the rest of my party ordered a starter and a main. The chef sent this out, not knowing that I would be reviewing the place, but only that I should have the same number of courses as my tablemates. Pure class. And this soup is excellent – not too thick or gloopy but with a rich, sweet, earthy squash taste. The addition of roasted pumpkin seeds is a nutty, salty, pleasingly crunchy textural component. It’s warming and comforting – the perfect cold weather snack.
IMG_20131031_131753_808 Tuna nicoise salad

The tuna nicoise to end all tuna nicoises. Delicate tuna poached until it’s still pink on the inside and flaky but not at all dry or fishy on the outside. It’s in a very light, creamy dressing and layered with rich hard-boiled egg yolks, crisp frisee, juicy tomatoes, and a few briny kalamata olives. It’s a very standard nicoise salad, ingredient wise, bu the preparation really sets it apart. Each tomato is perfectly split, the yolks are finely crumbled, and the presentation is classic and beautiful. The tastes are clean and although familiar, are likely to be far finer than most you have already tasted.
IMG_20131031_140036_553 Cheese plate

And a rather mammoth one, at that! This dessert easily feeds 2 people as a light meal and comes loaded with hard, soft, stinky, delicate, gooey, and tangy cheeses. Add to that the excellent house baked raisin nut bread, some salted nuts, and a whole orchard of fruit and..well…

You’re in business.

Asiate isn’t a cheap meal. It’s rather buttoned up and fancy and you will pay for it. But it’s equally suited to a business lunch or a romantic date. That’s not just because the food is excellent. It’s because the staff is. You will be neither hounded nor ignored. They will know if you want a table overlooking the park or a quiet semi-private banquette. They are there to ensure your comfort and happiness.

Even if you walk in wearing jeans.