Though the thought of the term New Nordic in America evokes imagery of fancy, twelve-course tasting menus highlighted by pulling your own radish out of a dirt patch, Chef Gabriel Hedlund of Sweden and Danish restaurateur Mathias Kær want to paint a more realistic portrait of Scandinavian cuisine.
That’s why they’ve opened N’eat (58 2nd Avenue; 917-892-6350). The eatery focuses on reuniting New Yorkers with the simple deliciousness of warm bread and butter — or in this case, fried sourdough dusted with mushroom powder and a side of cultured butter.
Instead of a set tasting menu, dishes are served a la carte and divided by portion size. Snacks — ideal for dining at the bar while Hedlund’s team plates dishes in front of guests — include oysters and chicken skin accompanied by smoked salmon and cream cheese. Hedlund sources many ingredients locally, but also imports cheeses, seaweed, and butter from Scandinavia. Baked haddock served with sea buckthorn and apple as well as chicken confit with burned garlic sauce are a few of the a la carte dishes that can best be enjoyed in the cozy, barn-like dining room.
While this is Hedlund and Kær’s first restaurant in the United States, the duo have spent significant portions of their careers exploring different versions of Scandinavian cuisine. Hedlund’s thirteen-year career as a chef include a stop at Noma cooking under René Redzepi and Luksus’ Daniel Burns.
“I’ve been wanting to come to New York and live and work here since I was about 20,” says Hedlund. “I remember I had dreams about working at Per Se when I finished culinary school.”
The chef is also applying updated techniques that pay homage to his native home’s penchant for brining, smoking, and pickling dishes. “We’re not fine dining,” Kær notes. “We also want to show the other side of New Nordic cuisine that’s not only long tasting menus, which everybody else is doing here that’s coming with the New Nordic cuisine.”
Unlike in Scandinavia — where early dining is en vogue — the approach here is to break with tradition by offering something at all hours of the day. The restaurant’s final seatings are at 11 p.m. on weekdays and at 11:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. “People work late. You should always have the opportunity to dine well,” says Kær.
For dessert, a selection of cheeses are offered, as well as seasonal desserts — including Icelandic yoghurt with white chocolate, dill, and cucumber as well as and Walnut with pear granite and hay oil. The beverage list focuses on seasonally rotating ciders and craft beers from Danish brewmaker Evil Twin Brewery. The menu also highlights natural wine and sake (for meal pairings) in addition to a curated wine list.
Get a look inside n’eat with the photos below: