Monday, January 30, 2006

Aquavit Restaurant Week lunch

Last Thursday, I experienced my very first Restaurant Week lunch at Aquavit. For a newbie like me, the visit was well worth the $24.07 (without tip and tax) pricetag. But for chickiecc and dpawaters, my more experienced RW eating companions, it was perhaps slightly less exciting.

We were seated in a room that seemed to be separated from the rest of the restaurant (perhaps the designated RW lunch room). The restaurant's design is simple and sophisticated (that's what those Scandanavians are good at, after all) as was the presentation of the dishes.

Three choices for bread, served individually by the waiter: a Swedish flatbread that reminded me of Triscuits, a pumpernickel bread and a small baguette all served with dill butter.

The RW menu consisted of four choices for appetizer and main course and two choices for dessert. Here is where the benefit of more dining companions comes in handy - you get to sample as much as possible from the menu, provided you bring other adventerous, willing-to-share diners. I started with the herring sampler, which I thought was the most interesting dish of the meal: four chunks of herring with different flavors each, accompanied by potatos and swiss cheese. I wish the menu had provided more detail on the preparations of herring, but unfortunately they took the bare minimum, obvious route of description: an assortment of herring. There was a classic herring with onion; a curried herring; a slightly sweet flavored herring served with a dollop of sour cream (?); and to be honest, I don't really know what the last preparation was, though it was topped with salmon roe. Each piece was different and packed a punch of flavor in its own unique way. I took my time with each bite to savor the bold tastes and textures.

The other two appetizers at our table: shrimp salad toast with golden white fish roe and frisee salad with mushrooms and goat cheese. Both good, but perhaps not particularly memorable.

Main courses:
Hot smoked salmon in an apple-horseradish broth with celeriac puree. The good-sized serving of fish, prepared medium rare, was beautifully pink and melt-in-your-mouth tender.
Warm roast beef accompanied by a potato gratin tart topped by an anchovy. The medallions, served slightly pink, were also tender, but the gratin was the standout portion of the dish. It was remniscent of potato latkes.
Swedish meatballs with lingonberries and a side of mashed potatos (that just called out to dpawaters). Flavorful and tasty, but fairly standard.

Arctic circle - a goat cheese parfait with blueberry sorbet and passionfruit curd. The parfait was an upright cylinder with the scoop of sorbet delicately balanced on top. A thin wafer for decorative effect. The passionfruit curd was the treasure in the middle. A very interesting dessert. The parfait had a light cheesecake-like consistency.
Chocolate peanut butter cake with coconut sorbet and grapefruit. A small rich chocolate cake with peanut butter in the center, not unlike a Reeses Peanut Butter cup. This was similar to your basic, ubiquitous chocolate lavacake dessert, but with peanut butter instead of ganache - delicious nonetheless. As dpawaters put it, the sorbet tasted like suntan lotion - but in a good way! Smooth, creamy and sweet.

The food was served quickly (though there did seem to be a slight lag before dessert), but with the comfortable rubbery chairs, we probably wouldn't have noticed had we had to wait a little longer!

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree. The herring sampler was by far the best dish. Also, the potato gratin was excellent. I thought overall, Aquavit did a pretty good job with restaurant week. I recommend it, especially since Scandinavian food is not that easy to find in NY.