A n’eat new place to eat: Nordic eatery treats NY to Scandi fare
Chef Gabriel Hedlund, who previously worked in Norway’s most acclaimed restaurants as well as world famous Noma, and businessman Mathias Kær recently opened their first Nordic eatery stateside in New York City’s East Village. Having gained their experience at Michelin-starred restaurants, n’eat’s restaurant partners summoned their knowledge to bring the typically upscale Nordic fare to a much more casual setting. Kær told me that they are especially looking to attract East Village locals and New Yorkers who would come in for “really good food that is really well priced.”
n’eat carefully avoids things that people find intimidating about restaurants like Aquavit and Aska. There is no prix fixe menu, and no need for a formal jacket, or even a reservation. The strictly à la carte menu is comprised of snacks and 15 main dishes: five vegetable, five seafood, and five meat. All of the eats are priced the same—$16. Ordering three or four plates is recommended, depending on how hungry you are or how much you want to spend.
Most of the cooking revolves around locally sourced ingredients, with the exception of very particular foods, such as Öland wheat and seaweed that get imported from Iceland. Inspired by the past, chef Hedlund uses old-school cooking methods, such as fermentation, dehydration, and pickling, which allows the true flavor of each ingredient to come through more clearly. “We don’t hide flavor with too many different things. We want you to enjoy food itself,” said Kær.
Raw mackerel served with green tomato, nasturtium, and horseradish was light, refreshing, and delicious. A snack that came afterwards consisted of wild mushrooms with roasted sourdough bread, and it tasted exactly like the chanterelles I ate as a little girl after picking them with my grandfather. Following the unexpected taste of childhood came another surprise. Never have I thought that I would enjoy poached egg yolk with Brussels sprouts, but it may be my new favorite brunch dish. All the sauces were very light but satisfying. I felt completely full after the third plate, but of course I had to try some dessert.
And it was terrific. The visually pleasing combination of Icelandic yogurt served with dill, cucumber, and white chocolate was insanely delicious. The savory component made this guilt-free dessert filling without being overly sweet.
n’eat’s open kitchen warms up the center of the restaurant space, where people can observe chef Hedlund making food. There are plenty of seats, which is wonderful if you want to eat by yourself. Although watching the sous chef pull out mushrooms from the oven and inhaling their invigorating smell made me a little impatient as I was waiting for my meal, I got to admire chef Hedlund’s precision while he skillfully placed sliced beets on plates with something that resembled tweezers. His love for Nordic cuisine and Michelin-starred training were pretty apparent.
There is no doubt that n’eat’s casual vibe, with chef Hedlund’s upscale dining fare at wallet-friendly prices, is a worthwhile dining experience for anyone, and it will make you want to come back for more.
Julia Andersen is a freelance writer based in New York. She is a Columbia University graduate and has a particular affection for Scandinavian films.
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 13, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.