Will Work for Food

How will we find out what this is if I don't eat at Atera? (By Nathan Rawlinson, courtesy Atera.)

As you probably know, I get excited about new businesses in Tribeca—new restaurants in particular. I love trying them out, reporting back about what they’re like, so that you can decide whether you should dine there. But in the past year and a half, greater Tribeca has seen a number of high-end restaurants open: Brushstroke, Compose, Jungsik, North End Grill. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t make much money on Tribeca Citizen—certainly not enough to justify the time I spend on it—and as a result, I’ve grown weary of shelling out to dine at extremely expensive restaurants. (I don’t take freebies, not that restaurants tend to offer.) I end up feeling like I’m giving back to the neighborhood least in need of help.

Which leads us to Atera, the restaurant that recently opened at 77 Worth, where Compose briefly was. Chef Matt Lightner was hired away from Portland, Ore., to create food that’s dazzlingly ambitious. But is it worth the $150 prix-fixe price tag? Have the kinks that made Compose awkward been worked out? Should you go?

So I’ve started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a dinner there. Kickstarter is a website where people post creative projects in the hope that other people will back them. The company was initially skeptical of my project—in fact, it was rejected. It was only approved on appeal, when I pointed out that in the context of an independent hyperlocal website, a fancy restaurant review wasn’t as frivolous as it might seem at first glance. Their reply: “We have concerns about projects like this seeming more like, ‘Pay for me to have a fancy dinner,’ than Journalism, but we can leave that up to the people to decide.”

Indeed. If I can’t raise the money to dine there, then I can assume you weren’t that interested in reading about the restaurant anyway.

Please watch the short video—or not, since it’s pretty much a rehash of what I’ve written here, although you do get to see my dog. (I was rushing, trying to finish before anyone walked by and saw me talking to my camera.) And click here to see what your money gets you—Kickstarter is adamant that each donation receive a “reward.” I have till April 30 to achieve my $300 goal, which is enough for the $150 prix fixe, the $90 wine pairing, tax, and tip. If we can get to $600—or even near it—I’ll bring Adam, who should get something for all the money he shelled out at Rosanjin and SHO Shaun Hergatt for the Tribeca Citizen Restaurant Guide. (If not, he can go to Chipotle.)

Thank you, as always, for your time.

P.S. If I don’t reach $300, I don’t get any of the money.

UPDATE: $205 has been pledged so far! I’ve emailed thanks to the donors whose addresses I have, but if you’re a donor and didn’t get an email, THANK YOU.

UPDATE: Made it!! Thanks to everyone who pledged! Now if you’ll excuse me I need to make a reservation….



  1. Are the naming rights of your meal, and subsequent article, available to purchase?

  2. @Steve: Do you mean a headline along the lines of “First Impressions: Atera (Sponsored by [your name here]”? Or something else? Because I’m pretty open to negotiation on this

  3. This guy on here raised $800 for Per Se


  4. @Keith: Makes Atera look like a steal!

  5. i can save everyone here time and money- no meal is worth $150.00

  6. you know what you should do……instead of being lazy and asking for a handout, go into Atera and ask if you can wash dishes or actually do something TO WORK for 2 days for a meal there. earn your meal.

  7. Back off Spencer. They do a great job on this site. No reason to be an ass. Heading to Atera soon so if you haven’t gone I (we) will be happy to share our opinion.

  8. Awesome…. I’m signed up! This website always has something to make me smile.. Enjoy!

  9. Altera should anonymously sponsor your whole meal. You have generated so much buzz for them just by this kickstarter things alone. How many freebie backlinks have you given them gratis?Hello Altera owners—the cost to you is about $125, or less. Eric has already generated more than that in free publicity for you. This is a bargain for you. If it doesn’t get funded, it will really reflect poorly on your marketing strategy. Anonymously fund the damn account already.