The reboot of Compose brings with its a new name, a new chef (Matthew Lightner from Portland, Ore.), a newly renovated space, and a 10-course prix-fixe menu costing $150. The emphasis is on foraged foods, and dinner can last three hours.
The interior has been remodeled, organizing the basically square-shaped room better; most diners sit at a deep U-shaped bar facing an open kitchen. The bar is much larger than Compose’s was, and a bit of intimacy was sacrificed. There’s also a lone table off to the side. Walls are wood-paneled; the staff is besuited. It feels like you’re dining in Bruce Wayne’s kitchen, if Gotham were in the Pacific Northwest.
The food is dazzling, astoundingly complex, and gorgeous. If you don’t believe chefs are artists—and scientists—you will after dining at Atera. This isn’t just “tweezer food,” it’s test-tube food. One would hardly be surprised if Lightner has a particle accelerator downstairs. Most of it is delicious, and all of it is fascinating.
Note: The “fancy” rating is for price and more than anything; the experience is formal in a worship-the-food way, not in a jacket-required way.