Alma | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015


photo by Anne Fishbein

Dining at Alma is like taking part in some sort of performance art — it could be a funky downtown gallery exhibit titled “Young Chef, An Evolution.” The restaurant, owned by chef Ari Taymor and manager Ashleigh Parsons, is about as home-grown as a place can be: It evolved from a bare space, which the pair threw open only weeks after renting it, to what Bon Appetit has dubbed the best new restaurant in America. That accolade plus Taymor’s ambition turned it quickly into one of the city’s most expensive tasting-menu restaurants, though the space still feels like a modern design student’s modest loft. The meal begins with a flurry of snacks, such as uni with burrata on tiny house-made English muffins, and moves on through a series of plates that are inextricably tied to nature, the seasons and California. You might get a shallow bowl of tiny dumplings made from nasturtium leaves, filled with sweet crab meat and swimming in a savory broth, or a crumble of sweet and salty duck liver with a semifreddo texture, served over coffee granola with tiny carrots, like some sort of extraterrestrial mash-up of dessert and breakfast and dinner. If you’re looking for a tasting menu with a side of pampering, go to Mélisse. If you’re looking to experience the next wave of inventive cooking as it evolves, Alma is probably your jam.— Besha Rodell