The Review: Aquavit – The Dining Room

Where do I start? Well, let me just say that I’ve been going to Aquavit (65 E 55th St) for about 3 years now for Lychee Martinis (the best!) and the appetizer size of Swedish Meatballs (to die for!!). I’ve been wanting to actually have a sit down dinner for so long and I finally got to this past week. I was hoping for a seat in the Bistro but it was booked to the brim so we went with a table in The Dining Room.

I was pretty excited for this meal. In the Dining Room you get to choose from a chefs tasting menu, a chefs tasting menu paired w/ wine (both are set meals), or the prix fixe where you get to choose your appetizer, entree & dessert. So naturally we did the prix fixe because we like to have choices. Not too bad at $84/pp. Was I thrilled overall? Ehh…I’m still debating that part. Let’s discuss…

Jared had gone to Aquavit to film a show called Breaking Bread and he raved about the food, mainly (he thinks) the Herring Degustation, which is 6 varieties of herring (and a dropper of brown butter) w/ vasterbotten cheese & new potato to cleanse your palate. I obviously had to have a bite of each and I thought it was pretty good. Two of the six bites tasted almost exactly the same, so it was more like 5 varieties. I don’t know, not blown away. It’s funny how differently I would have done the 6 pieces of herring. To each his own I guess…

I got the Duck Pastrami for my first dish. I have to say that this plate was delicious! There were plenty of slices of “pastrami” and a slice of foie gras terrine, which was rich flavored, smooth, & salty. Exactly what you’d hope for. There were also a couple mustard infused potatoes on the plate…could have done without them. I would definitely get this dish again, in it’s entirety it was very good.

For my second dish I got the Fresh Water Pot Au Feu. What it is is basically a perfectly cooked filet of pike topped w/ crawfish, English peas, & crispy chanterelles in a beer and crawfish broth. Sounds pretty divine right? My favorite part of this dish was this odd pile of chopped or blended English peas. The pike was cooked perfectly as I said, but lacked flavor. The whole plate was a bit disappointing. I like bold flavors and this one definitely fell short. I love crawfish so I was hoping for something amazing & not even they could stand out.

Jared got the Nordic Choucroute, another deliciously mouth-watering sounding dish no? Luckily for Jared he wasn’t as disappointed in his main dish as I was. The scallops were amazing, they had a perfect glaze on them, cooked just right. There is nothing I would change about them. The pork was just OK, same goes for the lobster. The sauerkraut was decent but we certainly weren’t paying $84 for that!

Luckily in between each dish we got a chef’s plate. We started with a salmon tartar wrapped in thinly sliced apple, very good. After our appetizers we got a white asparagus & leek soup, by far my favorite dish of the night (before the chef’s dessert!). When we finished the main course we got this little shooter glass, on the bottom was a chocolate brownie w/ these little crunchy chocolate covered balls, that was layered w/ mascarpone cheese & a berry coulis, sprinkled w/ pistachios, now that was heavenly! I only wish there were more to keep me going!

For my actual dessert I got the Apple Terrine w/ salted caramel ice cream, cinnamon & calvados. The dish was beautiful. The apples were sliced & woven together and there was a little white chocolate moldfilled with a delicious sour apple gelee and the most amazing part, a little cube of crunchy french toast. That little bite was the highlight of the dish, along w/ the caramel ice cream. The apples were really cold, almost frozen. I was hoping for something warm (and that might sound a bit naive, I didn’t know what I was ordering, it happens from time to time). Jared got vanilla ice cream & strawberry sorbet, wasn’t thrilled w/ the sorbet, and seemed to enjoy his ice cream.

But we weren’t done yet! Before we got the check out came a dish of petit fours. It started w/ chocolate & ended with a cherry jelly. All were delightful. :)

I’m not really sure what we were expecting, I guess more flavor, more seasoning, maybe we were anticipating too much? I definitely will not go back to The Dining Room at Aquavit (as long as I’m paying). If we were able to pay for larger portions of the dishes that the chef was sending out after each plate I would have been extremely satisfied! But unfortunately the food was a little bland for my liking. This is just my opinion, I’ve heard really great things about it otherwise. Maybe the dishes I chose were just a bit lack luster, nothing that I disliked, but it definitely didn’t blow me away. And shouldn’t it? I feel like I’m justified in having high expectations, though maybe a bit too high.

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