AQ opened for dinner at the corner of Mission and 7th St on a rainy Thursday, November 3rd, 2011. Though this was Matt Semmelhack's first restaurant, the Princeton graduate and former real estate analyst spent several years working in restaurants in all capacities with an eye towards this opening, and he partnered with an experienced fine-dining chef in Mark Liberman, who'd worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in the past. "I wasn't flying totally blind," laughs Semmelhack. "Just, you know, partially."
He and Liberman wanted to create a hyper-seasonal restaurant with a menu and decor that changed with the seasons. So winter meant stark white walls and Brussels sprouts and winter squash, and fall meant harvest colors and apples and mushrooms, and summer meant tomatoes and bell peppers and, um, bikinis or something. Menus changed whenever new ingredients came in. "I think we had like five or six fall menus at one point," says Semmelhack. "If there was something new at the market, even just for a couple of weeks, chef was going to use it in a dish."