NYC
Posted December 29, 2022

For my partner’s birthday, I had my eye on Aquavit for quite some time. Not only does it have 2 Michelin Stars, but it’s also Scandinavian and Nordic inspired. We’re a bit fatigued from the high end French restaurants since their techniques and flavors are nearly the same as each other. We had been to another Scandinavian Michelin star restaurant, Aska recently, so it would be interesting to compare these two.

Ambiance & Service

The restaurant itself was very clean. The dining room seems spacious and relax. The wait staff were friendly and gave us the right amount of attention that we were looking for. They sat us next to the window looking out to 55th Street, and the lights were dim inside. It definitely gave the ambiance a romantic vibe as well.

When the sommeliers brought the wine, they placed the bottles on a metal plate and allowed us to take pictures of the bottle. In addition, the sommeliers were very friendly and knowledgeable about their craft.

We thought the service was sublime, especially for a restaurant that has had its 2 Michelin Stars for many years already.

Food

The total cost of the Chef’s Tasting Menu was $275 per person. The wine pairing was $225, and I do not regret spending that amount. They let you purchase the wine pairing individually without requiring the table to participate. I told them there was no need for them to split the wine into separate glasses. The meal took roughly about 2.5 hours.

They gave us 2 starting appetizers that were considered not part of our course meals. The first was Gubböra which had pumperknickles, beer crisp, egg salad, matjes herring, pickled radishes, and mild espelette peppers. Gubböra is basically a classic Swedish starter that consists of eggs and Swedish anchovies. This was pretty good, and it wasn’t fishy. It was nicely balanced of salt, spice, and fish flavors.

The second had a duck liver pate, smoked brown butter almond cake tart, and black currant gel. This was pretty good too. You can taste the pate, but it of course blends well with the sweetness of the tart and gel. They gave us a little cup of some type of warm shot. It was distinctly tart and a bit on the saltier side. It gave a little zing to your palette to wake it up.

My partner ordered the Glögg ($14), which was a traditional swedish mulled wine. This was warm and sweet which seemed like an odd choice to pair with the meal. Nevertheless, it was fairly rich in wine flavors and quite heavy in alcohol (I believe the sommelier said it was 40%).

The first course was the Fluke and Melon. It reminded me of a ceviche. It had a piece of sea urchin on top. The melon was very delicious, and so was the sea urchin too. The broth had a citrus like sensation, which offered quite a counter balance to the melon. The fluke was delicious.

Paired with the first course was this Do Ferreiro, Albariño Rias Baixas, from Spain 2014.

This was quite smooth but also complex with an array of citrus, fruit, and floral scents. It was an excellent choice to pair with this fluke course.

The second course, Caviar and Potato, came with ossetra caviar on top of a thin wafer biscuit and served with some sort of tart creamy jus. I honestly can’t remember much of this, but it also had bright tart notes as well.

This second course was paired with a Philipponnat, “Grand Blanc Extra Brut”, Chardonnay, Champagne, France 2014.

This champagne was quite smooth and even more bubbly when it’s in your mouth. It was a very nice pairing with the caviar.

The third course, Foie Gras and Granny Smith, came with frozen foie gras and thinly sliced granny smith apples. This was an interesting combination. The tartness of the granny smith apples actually blended nicely with the sweetness of the foie gras.

This course was paired with Casa Do Joa, “Alto Do Joa Branco”, Curtimenta Blend, Transmonatno, Portugal 2019. This was an orange wine.

As with most orange wines (a.k.a. skin contact), these types of wines tend to have a particular type of funk that is very noticeable. But fortunately, it’s funky in a good way. The flavors of this wine are quite bold, but complement the tart flavors of the green apple and the sweet flavors of the foie gras well. I remember thinking I could also drink this wine standalone without even having food with it.

The fourth course, King Crab and Sunchoke was our favorite course of the night. The Norwegian king crab meat was simply delectable. All they did was just grill it lightly and then served it. It was a very dense, large, and super sweet piece of meat. There were more chunks of crab to the right where the sunchokes were. Accompanying the sauce were small salmon eggs that when you pop were simply delightful.

This course was served with Tablas Creek Vineyard, “Espirit Blance De Tablas”, Roussanne Blend, Adelaida District, Pasa Robles, California 2017. The sommelier was very specific about this wine because it was completely environmental friendly and sustainable.

This was super crispy and adds a nice brightness to the dish. It was really nice.

They gave us some Multigrain Bread with some butter on the side.

The bread was crispy on the outside, and warm and nutty on the inside. Supposedly this bread was made with all sorts of nuts and grains.

The fifth course, Cod and Endive came with a piece of cod and some endive chunks. There was some mushroom foam to the side, but it wasn’t noticeably mushroom-y when mixed with the cod. To the right, there were some small vegetables on top of a tart mustard like paste. The cod was so delicious. It was soft but held its texture and form well.

This course was served with a Roberto Henriquez, “Santa Crus De Coya” Pais, Bio Bio Valley, Chile, 2020.

Despite this being a red wine, it actually paired well with the fish. The wine has an earthy, barnyard taste, but it’s not excessively powerful or distracting.

The sixth course, Lamb and Lentils, came with a small piece of lamb steak, lamb sausage, and a lentils mixture to the right. The lentils mixture was salty, but it laid on top of a tart sauce. When you mix that with the lentils and a piece of the lamb, it was quite divine. The only call out here was that the lamb had a rather large piece of fat on it. I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to eat it because it was quite difficult to chew. I think I would’ve preferred them cut off the fat, instead of making us work for it. Nonetheless, the lamb was very tender and delicious. The lamb sausage was a little salty, but I love the char and cook to it.

And the red wine to pair with this is Horsepower, “High Contrast Vineyard”, Syrah / Viognier, Walla Walla Valley, Washington 2019. What is quite fascinating about this wine is that the winery uses actual horses to plow the land for the grapes. There’s no machinery whatsoever.

The flavor is quite intense, but bold with many different sensations of wet rock, soot, forest-like, velvety, and savory flavors. It was a really good complement to the lamb.

They gave us a palette cleanser before the dessert. This was a warm tart drink with some creme in it.

The seventh and final course, Arctic Bird’s Nest, came with little creme “eggs”, lots of little chocolates, blueberries, and other random magical discoveries. This was not only beautiful to look at, but it was quite delicious too. The three eggs sitting on the nest had their shells made out of white chocolate, and inside had a cool cream. It was spectacular.

For the dessert course, they gave a Chateau Suduiraut, 1er Cru Classe, Semilllon / Sauvignon Blanc, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France 2011.

This was definitely sweet, but not overly powerful. It helped end the night on a nice note and had the perfect mix of honey, fruit, and citrus aromas in it.

For my partner’s birthday, they gave us a delicious cake that had a marzipan outer casing. The insides had some sort of fruit gum in it that was good.

They gave us some candy along with the dessert course. The top was a gummy candy that had a plum, anise coat to it. It wasn’t too sweet, and it was quite good. The middle was basically chocolate fudge balls. They were super soft and very delicious. The bottom was wrapped almond candy. The almond candy was deceivingly soft. I was expecting a hard caramel exterior, but it was more similar to a mushy cake with some hard nutty pieces to it.

And lastly for our parting gift, they gave us each a small container of smoked sea salt that we can use as a finishing salt for anything. We tried some of this at home by itself, and you can definitely taste the smoke, and the salt was nicely balanced.

Final Verdict

Compared to Aska, we thought Aquavit was more delicious and more satisfying overall in the Scandinavian cuisines. The service is top notch, and the wine pairing has to be commended as well since it is not only bold in flavors but also very complementary to each course. This is a superb place to bring your guests for an exquisite night out.

Yelp Jabs

Some of what should be mindblowing, like the caviar, gets overpowered by fish flavor, rather than counterbalanced by something complementary, like egg. Other stuff, like the “would you like truffles with that ca-ching ca-ching” (yes, we said) and lambchops just don’t mix well together. (When did this trend of putting truffles on absolutely everything start?)

What is mind blowing is the lack of substance this Elitist wrote. If they are so confident of their palette, why would they say “yes” to truffles on top of lamb chops. Here’s a lesson for this Elitist - truffles lose their flavors exponentially each day they are dug out of the earth. The trend of putting truffles on everything was always a fad for the longest time, but smart diners will know that truffles really add very little flavor unless you are close to the source.

When we told the waiter the room was very cold He explained that the heat in the building had been turned down for the weekend and suggested we should get our coats! In a Michelin rated restaurant?!!!! … My son had to prepay the $225

They now provide a vest on the back of the chair. Unfortunately Yelpers like this, don’t understand that the there are some things that the restaurant can control (like the food) and can’t control (the building the restaurant is in). Remember that it’s very likely that the restaurant is renting a space from the building. They don’t own the building.

Revisions

  1. Dec 29, 2022 - Initial revision.