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Admin edit: Previous archived discussion regarding Aquavit's former location at 54th Street can be found here.

This just in from the publicist: Aquavit will soon move from its current 54th street location to a swankier more upscale Park Ave neighborhood. The new crib designed by Arne Jacobsen is expected to be ultra modern scandinavian functionalism with design items like the Swan chairs and the Egg chairs in the lounges and cafes. Not sure if the menu is changing but the new address is 65 East 55th Street.

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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and here we are, almost exactly two years later from Bond Girl's original post--Aquavit still on 54th.  any news, anyone?

Did I post something 2 years ago? I need to look for that thread.

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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oooooops, i'm not sure how i missed the date of your post, Bond Girl! i've been hearing about aquavit's move for so long, it seems like it's been almost two years. WAIT! I think i just figured it out--I must have had a blond moment--i must have looked at your "joined" date, not the date of the post. sorry for the confusion, everyone

do the publicity materials say what the expected opening date is for the new location? and when the existing location will close?

Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

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  • 2 months later...
My companions and I loved the evening's amuse bouche, a tiny bowl of soup that combined roasted butternut squash with a black truffle purée, a Vietnamese chili pepper sauce and Mexican chocolate, among many other nimbly measured ingredients. We also adored the appetizer of kumamoto oysters, each crowned with salmon roe, smoked potato cream and dill oil. But the plethora of flavors in and around the busy lobster roll eclipsed and obscured the lobster.

Aquavit (Frank Bruni)

Soba

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  • 4 weeks later...

Went to the new Aquavit location for a quick lunch on Wednesday. We sat in the café section. I found the design of the overall space much less appealing than at the old location. I thought it did not quite have the charm and warmth of the old café and main dining room. The more “contemporary” look just didn’t quite do it for me.

As far as food goes, we ordered to start the smorgasbord and the herring sampler, which were both excellent as always. I had a tomato soup with chanterelle and bacon. What a disaster... with each spoonful I kept on wondering how this dish (and why I had ordered it) even made to the menu. It was served creamless, warm and somewhat thicker than what I had expected (close to a liquefied tomato puree). The seasoning was completely off to my palate; sugar, vinegar and salt were way too pronounced. So yes, add this to thick warm tomato puree and what you have essentially is warm ketchup. Chanterelle was overcooked beyond recognition and bacon nonexistent. It was part of the prix fixe menu, but come on...prix fixe should not mean cheap junk. The Swedish meatballs, which I normally like, were also quite uninspiring. The meatballs were dry and overcooked and the mashed potatoes served with it were a little too “stiff” and starchy. A little more butter or cream in there wouldn’t have hurt. As an entrée, I had a hot smoked salmon with salsify puree and apple horseradish broth. I enjoyed the flavors of this dish the most. The salmon, which was probably poached in milk or something, had a nice and delicate texture, as always. One complaint I had though was with the size of the salmon. I think after my 25th bite, I really got tired of eating it, I was actually quite nauseated towards the end. I just couldn’t finish my piece. The combination of salsify, with a light apple and horseradish broth worked wonderfully though. We also had the Gravlax sandwich, another Aquavit classic, served with avocados and espresso mustard, again a great combo with the dill and somewhat sweet flavors of the Gravlax. Desserts were good but not great.

I am still hoping one day to see something radically different on the menu. The menu doesn't seem to have changed since my first visit there a couple of years ago. I think I’ll need to stay away from Aquavit for quite a while.

"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler
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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 months later...

Until the 12th, they are having a herring festival buffet in the cafe, for $35. It's a good deal. About 8 kinds of herring, smoked salmon, gravlox, calfs liver pate, meatballls, a very interesting deviled egg dish and a couple of other things. Also includes choice of two $9 desserts (found on regular menu). It's an all you can eat, so well worth the money. The only thing that wasn't quite there was the meatballs.

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  • 3 months later...

Potatoes Evermore - New York City Entry #13

I spent the winter and spring of 2003 warmly tucked in Uppsala, the comfortable University town forty minutes northwest of Stockholm. I have many fond memories of my hosts, but as for food two words will suffice: potatoes and Operakällaren. The latter is the perfect Swedish restaurant located in the Stockholm opera house. Of all the many meals that I have enjoyed over the years that dinner at Operakällaren was perhaps the only one of which I could find no flaws. The high-ceilinged traditional 18th Century dining room made no concession to Scandinavian modern, but the food drew from the best of the last three centuries (I understand that the decor has recently been remodeled and the cocktail bar is contemporary).

I provide this background to justify my claim that Swedes do - under the right circumstances - appreciate and prepare cuisine of the highest caliber. My visit to Aquavit proved delightful, but not surprising.

After a dozen New York outings, I had yet to find a restaurant that I could label brilliant. I was beginning to despair, feeling grumpiness around the corner. Aquavit brightened my palate.

I understand from a dining companion, an Aquavit admirer, that the previous location - dominated by a waterfall and a superb atrium - was an architectural marvel. The recent move brings a pleasant modernist room with clean lines and soft tones, but not a place that begs recording in Architectural Digest.

The food is, however, brilliantly constructed. Although I rarely start with a cocktail, in memory of my wintery months and in honor of the restaurant I ordered House Infused Pear Vanilla Black Pepper Aquavit. Skol! Joy! I cannot begin to explain how but this trio matches the icy purity of the aquavit. Pear, vanilla, and pepper share spicy aromas, which, although distinct, mix beautifully.

Marcus Samuelsson's cuisine nods at Scandinavian ingredients, but as at the Operakällaren, this is no folk cuisine. Chef Samuelsson is a global artist, and any misbegotten diner who expects boiled cod, peas, and potatoes should beware. I have eaten much smoked salmon, but never with goat cheese ice cream; venison was never served with a star anise broth.

We began with a doubly amusing bouche. First, a sashimi grade tuna in a slight coconut broth, followed by parsnip puree with American caviar on brioche toast. This pair did precisely what starters are supposed to do: amaze us with the skills of the chef: little matters that suggest the larger canvas of cuisine soon to appear. Samuelsson is a chef who is skilled in working with contrasting tastes, producing not clash but synergy. The coconut brought out the slight saltiness of the tuna, mingling salt and sweet. Something similar might be said of the mix of caviar and parsnip, but with the slightly bitter taste of the root vegetable embracing the salty eggs. I was sated and the meal had just begun.

As a first course I selected Kumamoto Oysters: half dozen bivalves topped by marinated salmon roe and dill oil, sitting on a dollop of smoked potato cream and a crouton. The presentation, here and elsewhere, revealed a intuition of Scandinavian design, witty and imbued with the beauty of simplicity. Our waiter explained that the chef wished for diners to slide the combination as a bite: six bites of heaven. The oysters were at the peak of perfection, and each ingredient made for a totality that could not easily be divided.

My second course was the Lemon Cured Duck Breast with Potato-Braised Duck Leg Hash, Walnut Vinaigrette, Duck Egg, and Glögg Sauce. How could one eat at Aquavit without potato: it wouldn't feel right. The lemon cured duck breast was so delightfully piquant that I forgave an egg that might better have been slightly runny and a more generously ladled sauce.

The disappointment of the evening was the intermezzo, a Buttermilk-Yuzu sorbet. How the heavy buttermilk matched the citrusy yuzu and how it was to be a palate cleanser, not a palate coater, I cannot explain.

Dessert set matters right. I ordered the signature Arctic Circle, a frozen goat cheese dessert with blueberry sorbet and passion fruit curd. Although I wished the dessert was served slightly less frozen, a few minutes of conversation cured the problem, spawning happy memories of those cloudberries that I enjoyed on my Swedish sabbatical. Again the symphony of flavors was thoughtful, startling, and brave.

Marcus Samuelsson is a creative and influential chef, a master at the top of his craft, and should I get lonely during a winter afternoon, I can appear at Aquavit's Café hat in hand for my nostalgic order of Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, and Lingonberries. Now that's eating.

Aquavit

65 East 55th Street

Manhattan (Midtown East)

212-307-7311

My Webpage: Vealcheeks

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. . .should I get lonely during a winter afternoon, I can appear at Aquavit's Café hat in hand for my nostalgic order of Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, and Lingonberries.

If you're longing for meatballs, you might also want to try Ulrika's at 115 E. 60th (Park-Lex). More traditional approach than Aquavit's, but very, very good. And if it's potatoes you want, she has Jansson's Temptation at weekend brunch.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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i had lunch at aquavit last week. the new space is amazing. we tried all of the desserts (except the icecream sandwich) and they were all fabulous. the apple sorbet was the dark horse...a favorite of the waiter, and we hadn't considered it at all. the flavors were superb.

chocolate basil frozen meringue with watermelon and fleur de sel were good in theory, but the watermelon wasn't peak.

the artic circle is great mix of flavors. they were all so beautiful. it was a wonderful lunch, but i was especially impressed by the desserts!

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Went to the new Aquavit for brunch this past Sunday. Came away with two thoughts:

--I really miss the drama of the old Aquavit space. This is spare, Danish modern, clean, spacious, but also bland and leaning toward sterile.

--I need to go to more brunches that don't feature omelettes as the centerpiece. This was really fun, and a refreshing change of pace.

The Aquavit buffet brunch (ahem, "Swedish Smorgasbord") encourages grazing. We started with a sampling of herrings in various sauces (mustard, red wine, green tea --I think-- sour cream, etc., all of which reminded me of the herring sampler plate at Ulrika's), followed by cheese and flatbread.

Next trip to the buffet yielded a plate full of salmon: gravlax with dill and a wonderful robust honey-mustard sauce, bright red chile-smoked salmon, salmon tartare, smoked salmon salad. I also loaded the plate with tiny waxy potatoes and mesclun salad and beet salad -- a surprisingly good palate cleanser for all that salty salmon.

I just picked through the rest of the buffet -- a variety of cold sliced meats, and hot chafing plates full of what looked like a creamy potato rosti, sliced roast beef, and Swedish meatballs. I also passed on a glass of straight Aquavit and a beer chaser, opting instead for a bloody mary spiked with horseradish-flavored Aquavit.

Then, of course, was dessert. Most of it was very nice: a teeny shot glass filled with chocolate mousse and crushed pistachios with a single raspberry at the bottom was my favorite. I also liked the lingonberry butter cookies (reminded me of hamantaschen) and a sponge cake with some sort of fruit filling (raspberry? lingonberry? rhubarb? who knows) and a green topping (pistachio? green tea? also unidentifiable, but benign).

The worst was what looked like a cookie topped with chocolate and coconut. It might have been spread with unsweetened chocolate, or perhaps something else altogether. If you ask me, it tasted like feet. :raz:

So my final pronouncement is that Feet Cookies aside, the Aquavit brunch is very successful. And no omelette stations.

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Two of my closest friends were married last weekend, and the rehearsal dinner was at Aquavit, and it was fantastic. I was so excited to see some old college friends that I didn't pay enough attention and the waiter whisked my menu away without my noticing, so I apologize for some of my flip-flopping descriptions!

We started with an amuse, which was caviar on a tiny little toast point. Under the toast was some sort of horseradish (I think) cream, and there was also a quail egg yolk on the plate - delicious!

There were three choices for each of the three courses - I started with a foie gras ganache appetizer, and I honestly can't remember much about it except that it was delicious (one too many cocktails, I guess)! It was served with a savory custard cake of some kind, which was also very good, but almost too salty. The other choice I recall was a herring sampler. I'd been recently for brunch and sampled more herring than one person should eat in a year, so I let the others try that one.

For my main, I had the lemon-cured duck breast (that's right, folks - all duck, all the time), which came with a potato-duck hash and a duck egg. I don't think I've ever had a duck egg before - very interesting, almost gamey flavor.

Dessert was a chocolate mousse, which was very good. The best dessert on offer, we thought, was the arctic circle, which was a goat cheese parfait surrounding honey tuile. Yum! All in all, a wonderful evening.

Sorry that I can't recall more details - but I can tell you that the private room was lovely, and the flower arrangements (orchids and green apples in low, wooden bowls, surrounded by votives) were beautiful. The service was, for the most part, very good. A great spot for a rehearsal dinner, definitely!

Here's a photo of the table, a little dark, but you get the idea!

gallery_26775_1623_6612.jpg

Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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  • 5 months later...

Considering Aquavit for a pre-theater dinner tonight, and looking for some reassurance in light of some really underwhelming meals yesterday at Maison and Inagiku.

Any recent experiences? We'd likely order the pre-theater prix fixe, and if this happens to just be too hideous for words please let me know now.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Dinner Monday night at Aquavit ended our long run of unpleasant food experiences in New York.

We had an 8:00 curtain, so arrived early to find the staff to patron ratio running about 10:1. Beautiful dining room, elegant and comfortable.

Husband started with champagne, and me with a sidecar, bringing me to the one slightly perplexing moment of the evening: our waiter's query (after a trip to the bar) as to whether I'd prefer my sidecar made with brandy or rum. Um, brandy. Somebody somewhere apparently makes sidecars with rum. Unsugared glass rim, but hardly anybody does that.

Two amuses bouche, neither of which I can remember precisely: one a foamy soup with some bits in it, the other a little wafer topped with American sturgeon roe and a dab of something described as (I think) egg cream.

We chose from the pre-theater menu: wagyu carpaccio and slow-cooked salmon for me, salmon appetizer and lamb for my husband. The carpaccio was the single most interesting dish, as it comes wrapped around pureed taro spiked with brisket, topped with julienne green papaya and fresh horseradish, and at the last minute is dressed with a mushroom broth. Very flavorful, but a lot more food than one expects. In fact, all of the courses were large, so large that we made a point of reassuring our server that it had all been great, just too much food.

Dessert for both of us was a frozen parfait of goat cheese with passion fruit puree and berry sorbet.

We skipped coffee in the interest of time and were sent home with small boxes of ginger snaps. Great for breakfast the next morning.

Overall an excellent meal with excellent service, and very good value to boot.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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It's truly one of the most consistent NYC hangouts. Very difficult to get a poor meal there - even if you wnted one.

Very underrated, but has always made my top ten.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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Two amuses bouche, neither of which I can remember precisely:
Maybe your sidecar side-swiped your memory! :laugh: Just kidding.

Thanks a million for the report. This just convinces me that I must resist all urges to return to my faves when in NYC and to try Aquavit!! I've always been curious, but somehow never managed to make it there.

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Maybe your sidecar side-swiped your memory!  :laugh:  Just kidding.

Very possibly.

And there might have been some sort of intermezzo in there as well, but neither nor husband nor I can recall it if so.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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  • 2 weeks later...

My friend and I dined at Aquavit Cafe on Friday night. As Frank Bruni commented in last Friday's paper, there are now several restaurants in New York that have an informal cafe attached to a fancy main dining room. I've tried several of these "little sister" restaurants, and the Aquavit Cafe is the most refined. Despite its comparative informality, tables are generously spaced, and there's plenty of fabric to deaden the sound. Service was top-notch.

We started with cocktails (a bit pricey at $14 ea.), two kinds of Swedish bread with luscious goat cheese butter, and an amuse of toast with sour cream and a hot mushroom sauce.

My friend ordered the Herring Sampler ($12), while I had the Salmon Sampler ($18), and we each sampled each other's plates. My friend observed that my appetizer had "enough salmon to feed all of Chelsea." Okay, not quite, but it was a large portion. On days when I've had a full lunch, it could be dinner all by itself. But it is also perfectly prepared, and not at all "fishy."

Quite to our surprise, the kitchen sent out mid-course plates, compliments of the house. We aren't celebrities or regulars, and we weren't spending much on liquor, so this was most unexpected. My friend was served a lobster roll, while I got a plate of duck carpaccio.

For the entrees, my friend had the Swedish meatballs ($18), one of chef Marcus Samuelson's specialties, made with beef, veal, and pork. It was an enormous portion, and even after I shared a bit of it, she was unable to finish. I ordered the hog smoked salmon, which was poached in wine, cauliflower, pearl onions and lentils. (I know, salmon twice — what was I thinking)? This was a bit bland, as I am wont to find with fish courses, but technically excellent. The kitchen recommends paired wines with each entree, and we adopted their excellent suggestions ($14 ea.).

When my friend ordered, our waiter noted that her appetizer and entree choice were both on the prix fixe, so she might as well get that, and have dessert in the bargain. She had the Arctic Circle, a terrific goat cheese parfait with blueberry sorbet and passion fruit curd. Although I had not ordered dessert, the kitchen sent out a plate of chocolate cake for me anyway, compliments of the house.

We left Aquavit happy as could be, but stuffed to the gills. The bill for all of that food was just $121 with tax. I left a 25% tip.

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I was at Aquavit on Friday as well!

I met up with my friend Louisa in the lounge - she was in town from Ohio for the day, and we decided Aquavit would be the perfect spot for a couple of cocktails. It also meant Lou could get something in her stomach before her flight back to Cleveland.

I had an Aquatini and an AQ Royale, and Louisa stuck to her favorite, the AQ Bellini. :smile: To nosh, we had the nuts (even their bar nuts are superb) and a salmon platter...

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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  • 4 weeks later...

I enjoyed a surprisingly strong meal at Aquavit tonight. As others have mentioned, Aquavit does not get as much hype as other restaurants in the city, thus I never went out of my way to dine there. Something newer, or purportedly better, always came along, so, even after a few years, it remained on my "list" without ever being checked-off.

My table had the Chef's Tasting Menu consisting of:

Lobster Roll w/ apples salmon rode, bacon, and egg dressing

Hot Smoked Trout w/ salsify puree, clam asparagus salad, and apple horseradish broth

Foie Gras Ganache w/ duck pastrami, cherry chutney, and goat cheese

Poached Lamb Loin w/ spring onion, hearts of palm, ramp vinaigrette, and sunchoke goat cheese puree

Manchego w/ chocolate cream and tangerine sorbet

Rhubarb Soup w/ cardamom and pistachio ice cream

Almond-Olive Cake with rose hip sorbet and yougurt

In addition we received two flights of amuses (#1 a raw tuna salad w/ horseradish foam and a cauliflour soup with capers and golden raisins, #2 an assortment of cured fish and shellfish with varying accompaniments) and a complimentary dessert (green apple sorbet w/ anise flavors).

This meal was startlingly good. The food is creative, unique, and clean yet not overly complex or challenging. The progression of lobster roll, trout, and foie was one of the better sequences of courses I've had in NYC. I wasn't in love with the lamb (it seemed somewhat out of place in the context of the other dishes), but the strong flavors grew on me and mellowed as opposed to becoming tiresome on my palate.

I enjoyed 2 flights of aquavit (that's a sampling of six infused liquors, surely an experience but not something I would repeat often) shared with my dining companions for the first few courses, then moved to a mediocre glass of Pinot Noir for the foie and lamb.

This place deserves more attention than it gets. Service was solid and knowledgeable if not totally flawless. Aquavit is an exceptional three-star restaurant that easily flirts with four-star territory in some cases.

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