When Aquavit opened in 1987, the concept behind it seemed like a radical one: a cuisine no one in New York knew (Scandinavian), served in a setting far more elegant than obscure ethnic foods usually enjoyed. Of course, today, chef Marcus Samuelsson is world famous (as the winner of Top Chef: Masters) and Nordic cuisine is popping up all over the city. In fact, it’s done in a far more wacky and creative manner other places than here. But that doesn’t mean Aquavit has lost its ability to please. Quite the contrary. The food here consists of classic continental and Scandinavian fare, perfectly done, whether you go for the light-as-light Swedish meatballs with lingonberries, expertly grilled fish dishes, or the excellent imported herring. How you dine here is up to you. At the front is a less formal (and cheaper) cafe. For those who wish to splash out, there’s the swank dining room in the rear.
- Pauline Frommer