Aquavit – Scandinavian – Midtown East
December 10th, 2010 by plumpdumpling

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

sorbet sampler

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?

Rating One StarOne StarOne StarOne-Half StarZero Stars

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)

11 Responses  
  • Heesa Phadie writes:
    December 10th, 20103:46 pmat

    “simple chicken breast, some salmon with butter sauce, a slice of herring–is inherently kind of bland to me.” Look at you :P I thought you could take the girl outta the country but never the country out of the girl!

    Curious, what’s the total tab for for the two of you drinks, tax and tip? Seems like a pretty good meal for the price, considering.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      December 15th, 20105:26 pmat

      Hey, give me a pig buried in the ground and roasted with an apple in its mouth for 8 hours, and I’m yours. No country girl is eating salmon and herring! Well, maybe a Scandinavian country girl. But I don’t have pigtails.

      I’m guessing it was about $55 per person, which yeah, is great for such a renowned place. The problem is that I can name 15 restaurants I’d rather eat at for half that.

  • Jenny writes:
    December 10th, 20106:15 pmat

    Coincidentally, and now in honor of this post, I am making Swedish meatballs for dinner. And they will be seasoned appropriately!

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      December 15th, 20105:27 pmat

      By “making” them, I assume you mean “going to IKEA to eat them in the cafeteria under the pretense that I need a new couch”.

      I’ve got my eye on you.

  • Mrs. Bachelor Girl writes:
    December 13th, 20105:36 pmat

    That’s disappointing, because the food LOOKS really delicious.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      December 16th, 20102:04 pmat

      It doesn’t really even look that good to me in retrospect! But maybe that’s the chicken fingers and French fries I just had for lunch talking.

  • Pretender writes:
    December 13th, 20106:34 pmat

    To my knowledge Samuelsson hasn’t been affiliated with Aquavit in a long time.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      December 14th, 20109:35 amat

      Sorry, you’re right; I should’ve said something more like “the restaurant that made him famous”. I haven’t been up to Harlem yet, so I still think of it as his restaurant. And the reviews I read said nothing had changed without him at the helm, so I still expected salted vegetables, dammit!

  • dbdtron writes:
    December 15th, 201010:08 amat

    I was last there a few years back, in the main room, and it was great. My wife was less impressed with her choices, however.

    I believe that Red Rooster will (finally) open on Dec 17.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      December 16th, 20102:06 pmat

      Okay, so maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe I’ll give it another shot in the main room sometime if I ever run out of dinner ideas and am desperate. Or maybe it’s totally just a matter of tastes, and your wife and I have bad ones.

      Geez, it’s not open yet? I thought it was happening in September or something.

  • Dishy writes:
    January 12th, 20119:24 pmat

    Hey! There’s that nice Heart Shaped Nugget guy!

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