Food: Restaurant Review – Aquavit
Location: Midtown East
Lush or Lacking: Lush
Personal favorite dish: Seared Chatham Cod
Let me start by mentioning that Aquavit is not your run-of-the-mill lunch or dinner destination. This high-end, Nordic restaurant is the place to go when you not only want to rattle your taste buds by the Scandinavian palate that is robust in a balance of sweet and salty flavors, but also experience a service that is as calming and exquisite as the Norwegian sea.
Aquavit is one of very few world-class Scandinavian restaurants in the nation. It has two Michelin stars and is widely celebrated by restaurants bluffs in NYC. The fact that this place has been around for almost 30 years speaks for itself because most restaurants, as extraordinary as they may be, whither and die in this city over that time period. However, Emma Bengtsson, the executive chef, slays in the kitchen and has been key in keeping this restaurant afloat.
Before I jump into the food, here’s a quick geography lesson – Scandinavia consists of the North Germanic nations of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. This region has a long history of treaties, wars, and unions, but it is not to be confused with the Nordic Region, which consists of the Scandinavian kingdoms as well as Finland and Iceland. These nations are surrounded by sea, so fish is abundantly plated there, hence Aquavit’s Bengtsson reveling in her knack for seafood.
Across the region, Scandinavian food is generally full of flavors, yet simple, and my meals were prepared in proper Nordic style as such. I tried the Herring Trio as an appetizer, and the Smoke-poached Scottish Salmon, and Seared Chatham Cod with potato and leek stomp, trout roe salad, lemon brown butter as entrees. Something that I adore about this restaurant is that the food is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the mouth. When I was served each dish, I had to remind myself that I was at lunch, not a museum because the food is a work of art, so colorful, immaculate and mindfully executed. My favorite amongst the dishes that I tried was the Chatham Cod, but I would absolutely go back to try more. ‘Twas sublime.