After two successful years in business, AQ has decided to take their kitchen to the next level by dumping their a la carte format in favor of a prix-fixe and tasting-menu experience. Beginning on March 18, when the restaurant's decor makes its annual transition from "winter" to "spring," the restaurant will shift to a two-menu format, offering a four-course prix-fixe menu and a grand tasting menu from chef Mark Liberman. According to a release, they have "some fun new toys in the kitchen to show off...[we] will be experimenting with both new and classic cooking techniques and technologies." Inside Scoop reports that the prix-fixe should be about $50 and the grand tasting about $80 before wine pairings, making them among the more affordable in town.
The new format means that this Sunday will be the last that AQ offers brunch, as they feel it doesn't suit their changed focus for what they're dubbing "AQ 2.0." Instead, they'll be devoting their energies to revamping the two banquet spaces downstairs. The move is clearly an attempt to earn more critical reception from the high-end food gods, as the restaurant has yet to earn a Michelin star, and holds three out of four stars from Bauer. It's also in line with the recent moves by restaurants like Quince, Keiko á Nob Hill, Manresa, and Atelier Crenn to dump a la carte menus (if offered), streamline their all-tasting formats, and generally go more formal in terms of service. With new offshoot TBD up and running and brasserie Bon Marche forthcoming nearby, it makes particular sense for Liberman and partner Matt Semmelhack to formalize their flagship, much as Quince did after the opening of Cotogna.
· AQ to adopt set menu format [Inside Scoop]
· One Year In: AQ's Matt Semmelhack and Mark Liberman [~ ESF ~]
· The Early Word on AQ [~ ESF ~]