This week in my Bloomberg News column, I awarded three stars to Atera. The excellent and uber-naturalistic restaurant in lower Manhattan ranks alongside Blanca, Romera, and Tom Tuesday Dinner as what are likely the most expensive New York restaurants to have opened since Per Se and Masa debuted in 2004.
Up until recently, Atera’s starting price point was $150, with wine pairings at $90 extra. That worked out to $619 for two after tax and tip.
Yes, that’s expensive, and justifiably so, because Chef Matthew Lightner has undoubtedly given us one of the best new restaurants of the year. But still, it’s not quite four star dining. There are a few issues with integrity of flavors — like a lobster roll with little lobster aroma, or a strip loin whose smoky overtones overwhelm the taste of beef.
And more importantly, there are a few issues with price transparency.
Unbeknownst to me, Atera raised its prices before my final meal last week. The tasting menu is now $165, while the optional wine pairing is $105, a $30 total hike, which can result in a $696 bill for two after tax and tip.
That’s $77 more than you’d have expected to spend for yourself and a date.