Aster, the highly-anticipated restaurant from chefs Brett Cooper and Daniel Patterson, has only been open a few months, receiving high marks from critics. But despite the restaurant's young age, there's already been time for a little reinvention.
"When we first opened, we came into this neighborhood thinking that it was going to be a slightly more casual neighborhood place but with elevated food," says Cooper. "But we realized we'd be able to do more than that. Our clients expectations are for more, which means there's room to do some interesting things on the menu."
That includes the addition of a four-course prix fixe menu. For $55, diners can choose from four options for each course, which creates a pretty good deal in fine-dining terms. Although the menu has always been divided into four sections, with diners encouraged to order from each of them, adding the prix fixe makes sense for both the restaurant and for diners. "Our goal is for diners to get a better sense of the menu," said Cooper. "We're not really set up for diners to order just a first course and an entree and be full. This allows us to give diners a great experience, while they leave satisfied."
Eventually, Cooper hopes to expand offerings to include a "chef's choice" style menu, with more courses and opportunities to show off creative menu items. Additionally, all of this introspection includes doing away with the all-inclusive tip system with which they opened, though it's something that is still on the restaurant's radar. "We want to do the right thing for all our employees," said Cooper. "We also want to be able to make it work for our guests and refine what we're doing. There was definitely some sticker shock at first." In the meantime, diners can expect to follow the traditional tipping model, adding gratuity to the bill at the end of the meal.