The newsletter says "After 17 wonderful years on 54th street, Aquavit is now settled a stone’s throw away at 65 East 55th Street." I say, congratulations and hallelujah.
I have never liked the old space of Aquavit. It was stuffy. The waterfall did nothing for me. The place didn’t flow. The new place is absolutely fantastic. Even if you don’t like the food, it is worth having a drink at the bar.
The restaurant is light, airy and extremely modern. The cafe in the front room is comfortable, groovy and modern. There is a huge bar that separates the front room from the back room. Before the bar there is a group of funky leather chairs and couches straight from Arne Jacobsen, the egg chair, the swan lounge and swan chair. I love it. Behind the bar and seating area are large square glass looking vases filled with vodka and different hunks of fruit. There is one with large peeled grapefruits, another with pineapple hunks, another with cranberries. I wanted to take a large ladle and taste each one.
The back room is has 2 tables that can be expanded for parties of 10. There are booths and tables. The lighting can be set for different moods. Very modern yet warm and inviting. There is also a private party room in the back for 40 people that has a drop down screen.
I loved my lunch too. First of all, I grew up with not much in the refrigerator but there was always a bottle of pickled and sour cream herring. Weird right, but a totally Jewish thing. My friend, whom I met for lunch, grew up with the same thing.
We started with a cherry tomato anchovy salad with a lemon vinaigrette. Delicious. The china is a perfect compliment to the modern vibe. The salad came in a square soup like dish. Our places were rectangular and white. We also split a raw salmon tartare that was cylinder in shape. Next to the tuna was a whipped white goat cheese and then next to that was a spicy tandoori mustard. 3 separate pieces that worked together on a long white plate.
Our main course was the Herring Plate. We couldn’t resist. 3 different herrings. Each served in a separate small square soup dish resting on a large square plate. Presentation is really clean here. The curry herring with apples, the vodka herring which is laden with cream and roe and the pickled herring served with horseradish and scallions. All delicious. Something I haven’t had in a while.
We had dessert too. A long square plate with chocolate painted through the middle of the plate from one end to the other. Looked like it had been painted with a brush. The dessert had a small scoop of hazelnut ice cream on one side. The other side had a layered chocolate tart, circular, layered over a sugar based cookie, the next layer was a slice of pineapple and the next was a crunchy chocolate caramel cookie. Incredible but at the same time light, not too heavy.
I rarely eat in that area, but am definitely going back for drinks and dinner. Just being inside that restaurant was a treat without even eating. I’d just go to sit at the bar and have a drink. What a fantastic addition for midtown. Glad to see that after 17 years a restaurant like Aquavit can have enough foresite to move into the next era. I am sure that they will be here for another 17 years in this space. Bravo!!