Nordic cuisine is the rising star of the international culinary scene and Aquavit is leading the way in this country. Their new young Executive Chef, Marcus Jernmark of Sweden, brings this cuisine to exceptional levels of excellence, and the restaurant has brightened up the ambiance with a redesign. The chef’s tasting menu is a lineup of adventurous new flavors, beginning with an oyster amuse served in a shallow bowl of stones in water to remind you of the sea.
Glassblower herring with bleak roe from white fish spawned in the Arctic Ocean is served on an elegant length of slate with vasterbotten a hard cow’s cheese, and brown butter sabayon. Gravlax may be the best you will ever taste. After the salmon is cured, it is slow poached to a temperature of 37 degrees centigrade to achieve a melting yet firm texture. It is served with trout caviar, sour cream, Meyer lemon, and birch syrup, from the trees so plentiful in the north.
Chanterelle veloute is a warm velvety root vegetable broth with skyr, a tangy Icelandic yogurt. Small pickled chanterelle mushrooms, duck rillettes, shaved truffles, and crunchy roasted barley make this the ultimate comfort food. A vinegar glazed pork shoulder braised with Savoy cabbage, pearl onion, and truffled celeriac is another winner. The bread is baked on premise by Pastry Chef Emma Bengtsson and includes knackebrod, small crisps that you won’t find elsewhere.
Aquavit, the restaurant’s namesake, is available in many ways such as the popular Midtown Martini—cucumber aquavit and dry vermouth. Enjoy it in the lounge area, where small plates are also available. The international wine list is superb. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday; closed Sunday. -- Marian Betancourt