NYC
Posted September 15, 2022

For our anniversary, I camped on Tock to make reservations for Atomix. Here, they actually have 2 different menus: a bar tasting menu and a Chef’s counter tasting menu. I actually made reservations for both, with some thought that I was going to sell the bar one because I thought they would be similar. However after some research, I realized they are actually 2 distinct experiences. I ended up keeping both reservations, and so there will be two distinct reviews for Atomix. This one is about the bar. To read the Chef’s counter experience, please click here.

The bar tasting menu experience can be best described as an experimental tasting menu. The chef/mixologist try different flavors, techniques, and styles, and they change this very frequently (sometimes within weeks!). Parts of this sometimes are transferred over to the Chef’s counter tasting menu components.

Atomix at the time of this post has 2 Michelin Stars and is the only U.S. restaurant in the top 50 on the Worlds 50 Best 2022 Restaurants list. It is currently ranked 33.

Ambiance

When you walk into the restaurant, there’s a long corridor that leads to a floating table with just 5 seats. This is where the bar tasting takes place. There are some stairs that lead downward to the U-shaped Chef’s counter, but we didn’t bother looking since we will be there next week.

The vibe feels very laid back. There is a mixologist and a cook that prepares the dishes in front of you. Sometimes, they have the kitchen from the Chef’s counter cook some things, and then they bring it here. The mixologist was very friendly and spun up conversations causally. One might think this restaurant would have some pretentiousness to it, but both cooks were friendly and down to earth. The mixologist does all the drinks right in front of you, and it was quite impressive to see him mix so many things together. I think the easiest way to perceive this experience is you have 2 chefs to talk to in a party of 5. That’s a pretty good ratio.

What is unique about the bar experience is that it included a beverage pairing of your choice (alcoholic or non-alcoholic). My partner asked for the alcoholic, and I asked for the non-alcoholic. I’ll talk more about this when we get to the food reviews.

Lastly, it’s a bit deceiving or misleading that this is the “bar” tasting menu. One might expect small nibbles and still be hungry afterwards. This is far from the truth. I felt very satisfied at the end, and so did my partner as well.

The total cost for the bar tasting meal (~9 courses) was $590.18 for 2 people inclusive of tax, gratuity, and Tock fees. It is $270 per person before these fees.

The total time for the tasting was about 2 hours, and the service was impeccable.

Food

NOTE: in pictures with 2 cocktails unless specified, the left is always non-alcoholic, and the right is always alcoholic.

The first course was Gim Bugak, Swiss Chard, Dubu, and (Hokkaido) Sea Urchin. This was a single bite, and it was simply sublime. My partner’s eyes expressed pure euphoria when they ate this. Everything was very fresh, and chilled at the right temperature. This was their favorite sea urchin dish that they have had ever.

The non-alcoholic pairing came with Lacto-Fermented Orange, Pomegranate, Gim, and Sejak. This was not overly sweet, and had a nice zing aftertaste to it. I thought it was very delicious.

The alcoholic pairing came with Solsongju Damsoul Pine Soju, Lacto-Fermented Orange, Pomegranate, Gim, and Sejak, essentially the same as the non-alcoholic but with soju. The soju counterbalances the sweetness a little, and it gives it that very familiar soju cocktail taste.

Both the non-alcoholic and alcoholic pairing were delectable and matched the sea urchin’s flavors perfectly.

The second course came with Yellow Peach, Aji Dulce Pepper, Labne, and Lemon Thyme. This was very beautiful to look at and also very fresh. The peach was very sweet and delicious. Beneath the peach was some type of sour cream with a salsa. It reminded me of when I was in early grade school, and I ordered a burrito with sour cream and salsa. The flavors were very similar to this but much more elevated and delectable.

The non-alcoholic pairing came with Peach Shrub, Seedlip Grove, and Lemon. I recall this was really good, but I don’t quite remember all the flavor notes. It was fairly complicated, but it matched perfectly with the food.

The alcoholic pairing came with Bourbon, Peach Shrub, and Amaro. The bourbon definitely was more pronounced and gave it some bitter notes. Surprisingly my partner enjoyed this a lot even though they don’t typically like bourbon.

The non-alcoholic had more sweet and citrus notes to the flavor whereas the alcoholic had some of that nice sharp kick. Both were excellent complements to our peach course.

The third course came with Arctic Char, Cabbage, and Sea Grapes. The arctic char was really nice, and there were some little round eggs in it. Unlike typical salmon eggs, these were a little more difficult to pop, but the density of flavors was very welcoming. The sea grapes gave it a nice salty after taste.

Both pairings came from AMA Brewing, Bi, Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, Spain NV. This was basically kombucha, in that it’s fermented lemongrass tea with some bubbles. This was a perfect balance to the salty and sweet flavors of the sea.

The fourth course came with Striped Jack, Spinach Doenjang, and Gopchang Gim. The striped jack had small strips and had that delicious soybean flavor to it. It had nice salty, creamy, and refreshing flavors.

The non-alcoholic pairing came with Celtuce, Dashima, Lemon, and Sesame. This definitely had notes of citrus and other earthy flavors to it. When you finish the drink, the sesame oil drops really add a nice aftertaste.

The alcoholic pairing came with Pungjeong Sagye Winter Soju 23, Celtuce, Dashima, Doenjang, and Sesame. The soju depresses some of that citrus flavor but still tasty.

The fifth course came with Scallops, Iberico, Yuba, and Snail Caviar. The scallop was perfectly grilled, and the broth is literally to die for. I remember when I first arrived in New York City, I went to Marc Forgione’s and declared that the chili lobster was the best thing I’ve ever eaten. Arguably, this might have superseded that. This broth had this perfect blend of saltiness and richness to it, that it’s so difficult to describe. It reminded me a little of rich and very well flavored stock.

The tea pairing for both pairings came from White Lotus, Hadong Province, South Korea. To help bring the richness down a notch, this tea helps your palette bring itself down. It’s a very nice tea that has a crisp, clean flavor that has aftertastes of subtle bitterness.

The sixth course came with Endive, Sea Cucumber, Shrimp, and Spicy Apple. The sea cucumber had some type of shrimp paste wrapped into it. The sauce had a surprising tart kick to it, and I had never fathomed this being a combination of flavors that would work. The sea cucumber reminded me a lot of crispy tendons and usually doesn’t carry too many flavors by itself. But the texture is really where it’s at. The tart apple gravy with the sea protein here was delicious for me.

The non-alcoholic pairing came with Grilled Apple, Ganjang, and Unified Ferments Qi Dan. This was sweeter than the alcoholic version of course. It reminded me a little of sweet, fresh Apple infused cocktail without the alcohol and with noticeable tartness to it.

The alcoholic pairing came with Apple Brandy, Grilled Apple, and Ganjang. The brandy was definitely a bit strong for my partner, so I did end up drinking this. I thought it was really good though. In some ways it brings down the tartness from the course, and it gives it that alcoholic taste to it.

The seventh course came with Black Cod, Eggplant, and Gochugaru. This reminded me a bit of the Chinese fish dishes where there are a lot of red pepper spicy notes to the sauce. The fish was extremely tender and live up to its “butter fish” name. The sauce is quite rich, salty, and potent, so the pairing below was complementary.

Both pairings came with Cubanelle Shrub, Sauvignon Blanc, and Lemon. The sauvignon blanc is boiled, so there is very little alcohol, if any. This reminded me a bit of drinking vinegar lemonade somewhat. It had this very noticeable tart and acidic taste in it, that worked perfectly as a counter to the salty dense flavors of the cod course above.

This is the start of our final savory entree. By this time, some people (including my partner) in our bar table of 5 were feeling a little full. They had no idea what to expect of this dish and whether they would have room.

The eighth course came with A5 Wagyu, Shishito Pepper Rice, and Korean Mustard. You can see in this picture that the A5 wagyu strips are glistening. It was so tender and salted so perfectly. The rice had a nice peppery flavor to it.

The non-alcoholic pairing came with Beets, Fermented Lime, Seedlip Grove, and Sichuan Peppercorn. I noticed that many fine dining restaurants for the non-alcoholic pairing do tend to serve beet juice as the base. I will blatantly say that this was by far the best non-alcoholic beet pairing I’ve ever had so far. It has that nice earthy undertones from the beet, but it also had plenty of zesty mid/after taste. I didn’t taste much peppercorn into it, but I wonder if my palette is pretty resistant to spicy in general.

The alcoholic pairing came with Mezcal, Beets, Fermented Lime, Cabernet Franc, and Sichuan Peppercorns. If the non-alcoholic beet pairing wasn’t enough, this one was unbelievably awesome. The smokiness of the mezcal pierces through the earthy flavors of the beet, and it was such a match made in heaven. If they had this on the menu as a separate cocktail, I would definitely order this every time with my steak.

The final ninth dessert course came with Chamomile Ice Cream, Torrija, and Makgeolli Caramel. The torrija is a soft French toast that also reminded me a bit of Korean doughnuts. The chamomile flavors in the ice cream was relatively tame, but I love how this dessert as a whole was not super sweet.

The non-alcoholic pairing came with Chamomile Tea, Seedlip Garden, Banana, and Ginger Oil. This was an excellent drink to finish the night. You get that strong essence of chamomile and ginger. It calms your body of everything it just consumed, and it also washes your mouth too of all the oils and richness you ate this evening.

The alcoholic pairing came with Chamomile-infused Gin, Suze, Banana, and Ginger Oil. My partner was not a fan of this, but I also enjoyed this too. The chamomile infusion was not as strong, of course, as the non-alcoholic pairing, but it definitely gave it some very different notes that would works well for those that crave some alcohol with their tea. I call it a perfect nite-cap.

The final capper for the night was a Matcha encrusted Chocolate Macaron. There wasn’t anything particularly special about this, but it was more of a celebratory dessert for our anniversary.

Final Verdict

The Atomix bar tasting menu should not be thought of a light bar menu. It really is its own tasting menu that has a lot of experimentation from the Atomix crew. The non-alcoholic pairing was deceptively delicious, filling, and thus far, my favorite non-alcoholic pairing in the city. I would argue there is no shame in favoring it over the alcoholic pairing. All the non-alcoholic pairings were sweeter than their alcoholic counterparts, but they also have flavors that were much more pronounced which really allowed them to dance on your tongue. The alcohol tends to subdue those nice bold flavors in favor of the alcohol liquor itself.

We really enjoyed every single course tonight, and the service itself was nothing short of spectacular. Atomix is well deserving of its accolades, and it has catapulted Atomix to being our favorite 2 Michelin Star fine dining restaurant in New York City. If you are left with the bar tasting over the counter experience, there is absolutely no shame in that.

Yelp Jabs

I was looking forward to trying this restaurant for so long given the hype and the ties it had to one of my favorites - Jungsik.

I’ve been to Jungsik before, and it was definitely not one of my favorites. It was good, but not comparable to other fine dining restaurants for me.

If dining here for the first time, I’d recommend getting the full experience and dining downstairs.

I think the bar is actually a worthwhile choice for the first time. They change the menu frequently and experiment. It may not be as predictable as the counter table, but the experience is very enjoyable and laid back. The non-alcoholic pairing is something that is worth the venture in trying. The bar tasting menu does not share dishes with the counter menu, so it’s not like you will be repeating yourself.

Revisions

  1. Sep 15, 2022 - Initial Revision