I am not sure how or why but a year ago when I started going to New York quite often Contra was one of the first restaurants I wanted to go to. In February, I had a reservation but had to cancel so it took another 8 months until I was finally able to go.
The menu at Contra is pretty. Fixed 5 course menu making it very easy to be a guest. A smaller menu available at the Barr, but why choose a smaller meny when the 5 course looks good:-)
We started with a very small snack. A potato crisp with sour cream and smoked fish roe. More rich and delicious than the classic potato crisp snack.
The first item on the menu was a cold almond and melon soup with different berries and anise notes. A dish that was both fruity and refreshing at the same time. A different way to start a meal with so many fruity notes.
The next dish was without a doubt the highlight of the meal. A beautiful dish with kohlrabi on top with just a bit of oil for color and underneath delicious uni, crab and white beans for texture. To round it off was a sweet maybe avocado sauce. The combination was so good. I enjoyed the delicate flavors of the crab and the combination with just a bit of uni and kohlrabi was amazing. Understated and fresh.
The first main was not a favorite of mine. Striped bass in a shishito sauce which added a lot of bitterness and too much in my opinion. My girlfriend was of the same opinion.
With the last salty dish, we were back on track. Pork shoulder with red cabbage and raw matsutake mushroom. The pork was very well prepared and the matsutake mushrooms off course worked well together with the meat. Winter is coming so only natural again to add a piece of cabbage. A great match.
Usually I am not a dessert man but today at Contra, the desserts were absolutely up to the same level as the salty dishes. We started with a concord grape and walnut mouse. Very nice rich “nougat flavors” and just a bit of lemon verbena provided a nice refreshing touch.
I really liked this dessert. A very distinct taste of sun choke (Jerusalem artichoke) which is not exactly a common ingredient for dessert in the US, but it is common to use vegetables in desserts in Scandinavia so very clear where the inspiration came from. I liked the fresh and light touch of this dessert. Not everything has to be chocolate rich and heavy.
The waiters were very nice to add an extra dessert. This time in the form of one of their classic dishes. Passion fruit semi freddo and olive oil. Great texture of the semi freddo and the combination of the sweet passion fruit worked very well with the rich olive oil.
They say that their identity and cooking style is contemporary New York. Not exactly knowing what that actually stands for I found the style very similar to Nordic Cuisine which off course makes sense as Fabian has worked at both Noma and Faviken. The food is simple, vegetable based, delicious, acidic flavors with both Nordic and Japanese inspiration making organic wines the way to go as supplement. Décor is cozy and minimalistic at the same time so I felt right at home.
Contra is not classic fine dining but at 74$ for a 6 course menu off course the tables are close and there are two seating is which at the price point is very acceptable and very very good value for money. We generally really enjoyed the evening. The food and wine was delicious, décor was cool and the service was nice and relaxing. So the next time I am in New York I will naturally be back to try their spring menu or their sister restaurant Wildair.