Located on the second floor of the Langham Place Fifth Avenue, Ai Fiori (means Among the flowers in Italian) is one of the ultimate fine dining experiences this city has to offer. Opened in 2010 by restauranteur Ahmass Fakahany and Chef Michael White, it serves a mix of Italian and French riviera dishes. I was really excited to go there as it was on my list of Michelin star restaurants to go to. We arrived at the Langham place and proceeded upstairs via the staircase. At the entrance was the bar with its cozy area, and then, on the left, the large dining room with its view of 5th Avenue.
After we ordered from the menu, we got some bread, butter and olive oil. Jodi chose a country bread, while I got the olive bread. But I admit that I would have not minded the entire basket...
They then brought us an amuse bouche that was composed of a parsnip purée, candied orange and aged balsamic reduction, a good way to open our appetite.
For her appetizer, Jodi chose the insalata, a salad made of bibb lettuce, radicchio, crouton and manchego cheese.
On my side, I went for vellutata, a delicious lobster soup with three slices of lobster that had black truffle in between them.
For the pasta dish, Jodi ordered the tortelli, a ricotta and mascarpone ravioli served with sottocenere cheese and a red wine glaze.
I ordered the spaghetti, served with blue crab, lemon, bottarga and chilies. This was the best dish of the evening for me: the pasta was perfectly cooked al dente, bathed in a succulent lemon sauce that had a nice kick. And that crab...I just drooled!
For the meat dish, Jodi got the tagliata, a prime dry aged strip loin, perfectly cooked medium and deliciously juicy, served with endive, potato terrine, “cacio e pepe” (cheese and pepper), and a bordelaise sauce.
I decided to go for Astice, a butter poached nova scotia lobster, carrots, rutabaga, Chateau Chalon sauce (I learned later that New York Post critic Steve Cuozzo deemed this dish Astice the “greatest dish in the world").
The presentation was amazing, between the shape of the carrots and rutabaga, and the shiny lobster. Taste wise, it was sublime, especially the lobster that was perfectly cooked and stood up on its own.
I should mention that I accompanied my all seafood meal with a glass of Sancerre "Le Mont" 2013 from the Loire vallée.
For dessert, Jodi ordered the Torta di Olio or olive oil cake, served with a ricotta mousse, port, pear sorbet to and a meringue.
It was good, but tasted more like a take on a key lime pie rather than the olive oil cake we had tried in the past. But the best, was the tartaletta, their best selling chocolate cake that was served with a fantastic tiramisu gelato. If you are a chocolate lover, this is definitely for you. It had three different layers: the crust, the cake that was like a brownie and the center that was semi-liquid.
Last, they brought us a plate made of a blood orange pate de fruit, a passion fruit chocolate, an almond financier and a salted caramel chocolate, as well as a lemon cake.
This was a delicious meal and I should mention that the service was impeccable, without being intrusive. Ai Fiori definitely deserves the accolades it received. Would I go back? Definitely!
Enjoy (I did)!
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