restaurants
Ai Fiori
400 Fifth Avenue
The Setai Fifth Avenue
212 613 8660

Inside The Setai Fifth Avenue is Michael White's Ai Fiori. Big eating, big service and decidely "what recession" style fare is what's happening here. Black truffles can be added to any dish for a neat $44 surcharge though many dishes already come with this treat. In the starters for example, the bianco e nero (diver scallops over a puree of celery root and bone marrow) and the vellutata (a lobster and chestnuts dish) both have black truffle. In this regard, it's all about the details at this second floor spot that's heavy on seafood and meats. Ingredients are superior; a blue crab salad tastes as though it's come straight from the Chesapeake. A cappon magro (shrimp, seppia) is done with bergamot oil. A sage butter gnocchi has tocco di nocci and not just any cheese, but Boschetto truffle cheese. Porcini ravioli has basil oil and esplette pepper. A filet of veal is done with sweetbreads and gremolata. From start to finish, it's this way; an amuse bouche of warm cauliflower soup has lemon foam. Coffee is served with steamed milk and only poured when the diner is at the table. But it's worth saying that this interpretation of French and Italian is heavy on two things: waitstaff and butter. If you don't like either – a team fussing over you or you must have lactose-free meals, this is not the place for you. If however what you want is the kind of dining that has fallen by the wayside in today's world of foodtrucks, everything from the house champagne (Doyard) to the baba au rhum-one of the best we've ever had-shows a supreme level of thought. And so will your bill, we say $300 for two if you go whole hog.

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