Two days after Marcus Samuelsson won the second season of “Top Chef: Masters”, my dining companions and I settled in at the bistro of his restaurant Aquavit and prepared to be wowed. Instead, we were merely contented.
matjes herring (mild salt herring), roasted yellow beets, scallions, sour cream
herring sampler, boiled potatoes, Vasterbotten cheese
cherry and wild boar salad
sage-roasted Penobscot (Maine?) chicken breast, broccoli rabe, Swiss chard, snap peas, spring onion crème
Undersalted! Bland! Only slightly saved by the delicious sauce!
cold-poached salmon, red quinoa, wax beans, chervil hollandaise
Nik and Kamran
Jack and Anthony (they’re single and like good food, ladies!)
chocolate pot de crème
cardamom pound cake
This was the best of the desserts, as far as I’m concerned, and I don’t think that’s a good sign.
no clue, but it looks yummy, huh?
I’m concerned this may be one of those cases–like Jean-Georges’ restaurants The Mark or Nougatine–where you just don’t get the same experience when the chefs are using less-expensive ingredients in their bistro/bar room/spinoff-restaurant-for-poor-people. For a New York Times 3-star chef to serve a $35 prix-fixe probably means some shortcuts were taken. Or maybe it’s just that this kind of food–a simple chicken breast, some salmon with butter sauce, a slice of herring–is inherently kind of bland to me. My boyfriend, for instance, thinks fondly of his smörgåsbord, because he loves lots of different flavors on a plate and was pleased to actually like the herring, which he was apprehensive about. I just couldn’t get over the fact that the vegetables on my plate were completely unsalted; even at $35, I expect basic technical skills to be mastered.
65 East 55th Street
New York, NY 10022 (map)