Some restaurants hide their signs, some more ambitious ones don’t have a sign. Then there’s Acme, which takes it a step further and puts up the wrong sign.
From afar, the ACME sign resembles that of a hardware store. Look closely, and you’ll notice that it’s from the previously failed tenant, one that served southern cajun cuisine. As I stood by the door, some European tourists approached thinking they’d find good ole southern cuisine. Boy were they disappointed when they read the menu.
Keeping the signage of a failed business certainly seems a little bit mad, pun intended. The head chef at Acme is Mads Refslund, the former head chef at Noma in Copenhagen, which according to some is the best restaurant in the world.
Mads serves mid to high-end Scandinavian cuisine at the reworked Acme. Scandinavian food hasn’t exactly had a winning streak in New York. Vandaag had great initial reviews but faltered, Isa was off to a promising start but was tweaked to be more “normal”. Acme drew raves for its 2-star performance from NY Times, and for a while was the hottest table in town. Does it live up to the hype and demonstrate staying power?
The first courses certainly made a strong impression. Mackerel and pear sounds like a bizarre combination, but the combination of lightly cured mackerel cradled by slices of pear was absolutely blissful.
Pearl barley and clams featured a heaping serving of good hearty barley, but was brought to another level by the savory clam broth. The large chunks of scallops could have easily starred on their own plate, but were relegated to an accompaniment on an already impressive collection.
For mains, the arctic char “wrapped” in zucchini blossoms created unique strips of fish that were lightly topped with sherry vinegar. The fish might have looked dry from the presentation, but that’s when the surprise hits your tongue. You mind is completely taken aback by how tender the fish is.
Finally came the much recommended chicken and eggs, which feature what the menu calls “new potatoes”. While I cannot tell you what old potatoes were, these new ones are pretty darn good, with centers so soft it almost felt velvety smooth. The chicken meat was tender and well flavored, and the eggs were beautifully cooked and just worked so wonderfully with the poultry.
When I inquired about whether Chef Refslund is in the restaurant this evening, I was told that he has ventured back to the kitchens of Noma for inspiration. I can’t wait to see what kind of mad creations he conjures up next.
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