Grant Achatz has opened the doors to The Aviary New York, a project that’s been in the works for nearly six years and a restaurant that’s ready to wow visitors with an eclectic mix of delicious cuisine and delectable cocktails.
Sitting on the top floor of The Mandarin Oriental hotel with epic views of New York, The Aviary is the first time Achatz and his long-time business partner Nick Kokonas have opened in the city - and they’ve done it with a bang.
The Aviary is a beautiful, heigh ceiling, hotel restaurant that’s packed with sleek design and comfortable luxury. The menu consists of a diverse collection of cocktails produced by drinks director Micha Melton and his team of highly trained liquid chefs. (Seriously, there is an open kitchen at the front of the room packed with chefs shaking, twisting and balancing drinks - they even shout out orders like most pro kitchens)
The drinks menu is split between classics and Aviary creations and we highly recommend opting for the latter - the birds on the menu even show which cocktails come with more theatrical presentations. Such as the Wake n Bake: a rye, coffee and orange infused Vermouth with coffee liquor, a short drink that's delivered inside an airtight bag filled with the deep aroma of an Everything Bagel. There's also Science A.F: blueberry, lemon, honey, ginger and scotches that are infused using high heat, steam and a Roald Dahl-esque device that bubbles, spits and pops at the table.
The first Aviary New York menu: the birds on the left side signify the theatrics of a drink, the longer the distance a bird flies, the more surprising the presentation.
Now the food which has been created by Achatz alongside his executive chef Dan Perretta. At the moment, the menu is à la carte with a tasting menu and chef’s table option coming soon, there's also the option to order a tasting of three or five drinks paired with food - probably the best way to experience the restaurant. Achatz says the team will eventually open all day, even serving breakfast which he says has beeen inspired by his recent trip to Melbourne, a city where breakfast is taken very seriously.
Left to Right: Lime leaf cured Kampachi with Thai green curry, cucumber, heart of palm and caviar lime; Takoyaki: Spanish octopus, ginger, nori, bonito and sweet onion; Frozen corn custard, Char roe, mango, yellow tomato tom yum snow.
The food menu is truly global, with Thai, Japanese, Italian and even Peruvian ingredients combining to create plates that pop with intense flavours. There’s classics such as the famous potato, parmesan and truffle explosion, a pasta dish that screams 'just one more'. There’s also a wonderful Latin American style dish simply called Pineapple: a fresh hit of frozen passionfruit on top of a deep, chocolaty mole that’s punctuated by tangy notes of black mint and different presentations of pineapple.
From left to right: Heirloom Tomatoes, Pineapple, Black Truffle Explosion.
Another dish, Heirloom Tomatoes, is a modern take on the famous caprese combination of Italy, except at The Aviary, the base is now a raspberry and tomato gaspatcho, and the slices of expected mozzarella are replaced by frozen chunks of burrata cheese that create a creamy melt as soon as they hit the tongue. It's a caprese combination direct from the future.
At the end of the meal, guests who book a table, can also step next door and experience The Office, a speak-easy style bar also created by Achatz and Kokanas. Here, guests can sample a whole new menu of cocktails and food - plus a dessert Sundae that will take you back to childhood before you’ve even opened your mouth.
Here's a look at how they go about making ice at The Aviary - this video should tell you all you need to know about their approach.