Restaurant Review: Aquavit Bistro

So I’m thinking of starting a new series of posts to go along with Maria and I’s exploration of the many varied restaurant options in New York City. We’ve always loved food, perhaps think of ourselves as foodies, and it was just Restaurant Week. I’ve also always felt like I may have missed out on a whole lot of good eating, and wanted to re-explore some old favorites with Maria as well. So either way, here we go? There’s been a whole bunch of restaurants already, so this will be kind of a retrospective until we’re all well and caught up, and then going forward, proper wise.

So as you’re walking on the West side of Park Ave., heading North towards Grand Central, you pass this fancy looking building having to do with Scandinavian Culture. There, there is a restaurant called the Aquavit Cafe. Incidentally, Aquavit is like aqua vitae, the water of life, and is a vodka strength infused liquor, with the most traditional ones being like caraway flavored, and is, apparently very important to the eating and drinking life style in Scandinavia. We were intrigued. So we checked out OpenTable, and lo and behold they had a restaurant week option, and it looked absolutely excellent, but was completely booked up! The other bit of confusion is that there’s actually 4 restaurants, the Aquavit Cafe, Bistro, Dining Room, and Bar and Lounge. It’s also supposedly expensive. Either way though, we thought we’d cough it up and go anyways, sans the Restaurant Week offering, which ya know, we’re not that fond of anyways as far as dinner is concerned cause the value is iffy, and we wanted to see my Emily as well, so this past Sunday, February 6, 2011, the 3 of us ate an absolutely lovely meal at the Aquavit Bistro!

I’m going to explore a little how I want to phrase these reviews, but I think an intro paragraph including the context of how it came to be that we went, then a nice, broken down list of pertinent data, then actual thoughts on the dinner, including menu highlights, etc. We’ll see how it goes?

Link: Aquavit
Menu: Bistro Menu, still including Restaurant Week offerings
Address: 65 East 55th Street New York, NY 10022, between Park and Madison Avenues
Phone: (212) 307-7311

Location notes:
The Bistro, Dining Room, and Bar and Lounge are all in the same complex and just sort of separated by natural partitions. The Cafe is on Park Ave. in like the 30s. The menu offerings are different, with the Bar and Lounge offering the same menu as the Bistro, and the Dining Room is all tasting menus and much more expensive. We’re thinking of paying up for that one day as well. It’s on the North side of 55th St., and kinda hard to see as it’s tucked back from the sidewalk underneath an office building.

Food notes:
Obviously, EXCELLENT. I got Swedish Meatballs! :) Everything was lovingly plated, a beauty to look at, flavorful and rich, though simple in concept like, Swedish Meatballs! Their mixed drinks are also very excellent, using those home made Aquavits of theirs of which they have over a dozen different flavors. They offer a Aquavit tasting flight, but we never got around to them as the drinks we ordered were plentiful, strong, and delicious.

Foods tasted (taken from menu):

  • SWEDISH MEATBALLS – potato purée, pickled cucumber, lingonberries, cream sauce
  • SAGE-ROASTED PENOBSCOT CHICKEN BREAST – baked wild mushroom and napa cabbage, sage butter sauce
  • SCANDINAVIAN BOUILLABAISSE – cod, scallops, shrimp, mussels, parsley aioli
  • SAUTÉED SPINACH – cipollini onions, roasted garlic
  • KLADDKAKA – chocolate cake, citrus salad, dulce de leche cream

Drinks tasted (taken from menu):

  • SPICY MANGO MARTINI – spicy mango aquavit, fresh mango purée, fresh lime juice, served straight up
  • WHITE COSMOPOLITAN – Aquavit NYC, orange liquor, white cranberry juice, fresh lime juice, served straight up
  • Pripps Carnegie Porter, Sweden (16.9 oz)

Other notes:
As I said before, everything was excellent, and it wasn’t even that expensive! We were more than properly fooded, had large entrees, a side and dessert, and fancy drinks each, and we came out to just about $50 per person. Well worth it if nothing else. And what’s special, if you go now and/or soon, they give each person a $50 gift certificate useable the next time you eat dinner there! It’s limit 1 per table, but there’s no minimum you have to order, and there’s no menu items it doesn’t apply to. So we’re thinking like, we can eat elsewhere then get a fancy drink each and a dessert to split and effectively spend nothing! Or, we can just go again and it’ll be 1/3 cheaper! The options are limitless! And if 3 of us go, and get the $35 per person Restaurant Week offering and a drink, the drink’s effectively free also and the Restaurant Week offering is 3 courses! Oh so good! Definitely going back, even thinking about going for our Anniversary, and Emily’s even thinking of going for their Anniversary! And though this is the last restaurant we’ve eaten at, I think it’s an excellent entry into the Restaurant Reviews series. Should I take photos and post them next time? Obviously this won’t work for the places we’ve been to, but it might work going forward…

Many more to come :)

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