Monday, February 13, 2012

Ai Fiori 02-07-2012

Location: 400 5th Ave. 2nd Fl.
Time: 12:30pm
People: Effie and myself

Feelings: I am skeptical of restaurant week since I am not interested in fine dining (except, perhaps, The Modern), and there seems to be a less inventive menu available. But since I heard a lot about Ai Fiori from many of my co-workers, I decided to give it a try.

Located in the Setai Hotel, Ai Fiori is not a particularly gorgeous restaurant. It is something your suburban mother-in-law would find it opulent, but for two Rick Owens and Alexander McQueen obsessed gals, it is rather dowdy and uninspiring. I felt it was a cross between a cruise ship and a funeral home. There is a wide view of 5th Avenue, but seriously, is anyone impressed with a view of 36th Street?

The dining was more casual comparatively to other conventional spots. I felt quite comfortable dining here thanks to their warm hospitality. If the interior of this restaurant was more minimalistic and modern, this would be a better fit for the service.

The restaurant week lunch menu ($24) consisted of three courses of appetizer, entree and dessert. All dishes carried the well executed and rustic locavore flavors. The insalata (seasonal greens, local baby carrots, manchego, aged sherry) was fresh and earthy beyond our imagination. Celebrity chef Michael White is known for his pasta, so of course we could not possibly wrong with the Tagliatelle (house made ribbon pasta, funghi ragout). The pasta was thick, chewy, and quite delicious, but the dish overall was rather lackluster. To finish off the meal, the Olive Oil Cake (lemon, espresso gelato) had a nice balance of subtle sweetness and light oiliness. It had a similar texture and flavor to Japanese castella. Effie's Milk Chocolate Cremeux was little too sweet and heavy and overshadowed the meal.

The food at Ai Fiori was quite delicious and modern with some intensely flavored and whimsical dishes. I would love for them to drop this suburban chic decor because I would love to be as far away from Long Island as possible. In the end, however, the food is all that matters.


Jenn said...

Those noodles do look yum! But decor is a big part of any type of fine dining. They should know better.

I love, love, love Restaurant Week! So good. Next time you should try Todd English's Ca Va. Ridiculously good and good portions and service. It's in midtown near Times Square but because it's off the main avenue it's not too bad with tourists and such.

Yosh. O said...

Thanks for your awesome comments:) I'll def have to try Ca Va next time!!

kim said...

Lucky that you had a nice experience. Mine wasn't as lucky. The service was subpar (I had a stomach issue that day, so wasn't hungry enough for the prix-fixe and the waiter had the audacity to say, "So you're not hungry at all?" What the &*&*?? They got us the wrong dessert and I also wasn't happy with the bread service (last year, there were three varieties). I had a better RW at Quality Meats. Shocking from a steakhouse, but there's a good list of salad options.

kim said...

btw, happy V-day :)

Yosh. O said...

happy V-day, Kim!
I've heard some not-so-great stories about Ai Fiori from people too. It was just such an odd place+location. I didn't like their bread very much either.