Restaurants & Bars

Manhattan Scandinavian Meal Review

Aquavit vastly exceeded expectations!


Restaurants & Bars 37

Aquavit vastly exceeded expectations!

StevenCinNYC | Mar 28, 2013 10:49 PM

I hadn't been here in maybe 20 years. Wow has it changed--the food is amazingly inventive, including several elements of molecular gastronomy, plus the service is excellent.

The amuse bouche and bread were already outstanding. One of the two butters was actually browned butter! They melt it, brown, clarify, and re-chill the butter! The rye bread and "crisp" (flatbread) were great (I didn't try the sourdough so I can't comment).

The first set of amuses bouche was pretty amazing--twists on traditions. They served two perfect radishes dipped in butter, but it was butter infused with bacon--wow, just the right mix of butter and salt to evoke the traditional service with a powerful smack of bacon infusion to give a serious update and flavor kick. They also served two items on sticks jutting out of a birds nest of hay and rocks in a bowl. One stick was a perfect quail egg, with a crunchy flake on top and a nicely soft yolk. The other was an amazing tomato (can't remember what they did to it but it was very flavorful and exploded in the mouth; it had this great matte finish).

They also served an amuse bouche of white asparagus soup served over white asparagus that served with smoke(!). The smoke wafts out as they open the mason jar, but it's not just for show--there's a strong smoky flavor in the goodies that they've poured the soup over. There was a little cheese puff next to the jar that had the soup (not sure why, but it worked!).

We shared two great apps, the herring (buttermilk something, caviar, brown butter foam, bits of potato) which was very good and the stunning lightly toasted gravlax which was astoundingly good. It includes shaved fois gras which was roasted, frozen, and apparently shaved or microplaned; It had a great flavor that really complemented the dish (not just a gimmick--it was really excellent! So much better than the WD-50 fois gras Dippin' Dots.).

I had the squab which was one of the best I've had. This was a simpler dish, but one that was just excellent. I find that squab can be hideously bad, very good, or excellent. This was clearly in that last category.

The creme brûlée was scented with orange and largely deconstructed with crisp sheets of caramelized sugar on the side with bits of chocolate and other goodies (sorry I don't remember everything) around it.

The dessert amuses were also really good, too, plus they gave us little chocolate cakes in bags to take with us.

We just did three courses, but the 4-course choose whatever you want prix fixe would have been a similar price and seems well worth doing. There's also a chef's tasting menu (looked like 8 courses).

Anyway, I'd gone expecting a solid traditional Swedish dinner, but instead had a wonderfully inventive meal that respected and built on traditions in a fun and sensual way that totally worked.

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