Aquavit in London

Aquavit I feel is one of those hidden gems. A Michelin star restaurant originally founded in New York’s midtown Manhattan in 1987. Yep, it’s old hahahaha According to their own website even after two decades it ‘continues to be one of New York’s most popular and highly esteemed dining destinations’ and the New York restaurant holds 2 Michelin stars. The London branch holds 1. Don’t let that put you off if you’re not into ‘that sort of thing’ because let me tell you all about it.

This is one of the cosiest restaurants I’ve been to despite it’s large and open plan design. I often find I miss the creature comforts of Sweden and this is the perfect place to go to when I’m feeling homesick and during any Swedish holiday; be it midsummer, Lucia, Christmas or just on a normal day I wish to have a little feeling of home. I find food really does that for me. Makes my homesick feeling subside a little.

As any good Nordic restaurant should have, there is a wonderfully cosy outside seating area at Aquavit London. Even in the winter because that’s what we Scandis like to do, sit outside come rain or shine and enjoy our coffee and cinnamon bun and watch the world go by.

Confession time….

I’ve never been here in the summer, only in the winter time. I think that’s when I tend to seek out places which remind me of home and Aquavit is at the top of that list as it’s just so darn cosy. In desperate times even Ikea is on that list…don’t judge! hahahah

I mean come on, look at how much effort has been put in to the cosy – or Hygge even (in Danish) Who wouldn’t want to sit here with a warm tea or coffee and have a good catch up with a long lost friend? Even a friend you see all the time to be honest hahahaha it’s that good.

The interior

This bar is fully stocked. That includes Glögg in the winter time. It’s like mulled wine but Swedish. It’s served piping hot and warms you up so well and the smell is divine. Oh just writing this makes me want to book a table!

I love how we are able to see in to the kitchen here. Makes me feel like they have absolutely nothing to hide and even welcome a cheeky glance. Maybe it’s just me but I do love to watch the kitchen work.

As you can see some of these photos were taken around Christmas time last year and some others earlier this year.

The Food

Aquavit has a few menus to choose from including an incredibly good value for money menu which is the Weekend Lunch Menu – 3 course meal at £35.

This menu has among other things the Swedish meatballs, lingonberries, pickled cucumber which is scrumptious and the Gravlax, mustard & dill sauce which is delicious and the Matje herring, potato, sour cream, egg yolk which is not to my personal taste but my friend loved it!

I always opt for the Shrimpskagen for my starter which are prawns on butter fried toast essentially but with some red roe and other yummy things in the mayo mix.

If you’ve only ever experienced Swedish meatballs in Ikea you are really missing out. Aquavit has the best Swedish meatballs I’ve ever tasted outside of Sweden. And as an added bonus it’s served in the proper way with pickled cucumber and mash and of course the lingonberry.

They of course have an À la carte menu with lots of amazing food like the famous Swedish Smörgåsbord (which is a pick n mix of several small starters).

Venison tartare, Dooncastle Oysters, Pickled Cherries or Duckbreast, pickled cherries, beetroot, liquorice or why not try the Aquavit beef burger, Västerbotten cheese, pickles, dill vinegar crisps

How amazing don’t these desserts look? The Swedish pancakes, blueberries, cream took me right back to my childhood in one bite. Or how about the very instagrammed Arctic Bird’s Nest or the Devine ‘‘Chokladboll’’, oat ice cream, chocolate crémeux, coconut. All so gorgeous and tasty.

Or why not pick something from the Fika trolley to go with your coffee? A Cinnamon Bun perhaps or a mini princess cake covered in marzipan?

The Service

I must admit that the service I received on both visits was not what I expected of a Michelin Star restaurant. It’s good but not great if you know what I mean. It’s a bit slow and we weren’t asked how our meal was. On my first visit they forgot a few items we’d ordered and we had to ask for them again. They were very apologetic about this to be fair.

I am not one of those people that will not return to a restaurant based only on the service though, if I like the atmosphere and the food I will overlook service.

On my first visit I’d booked a table for 5 but we ended up as a 6. They were so accommodating and arranged an extra table setting for us without any fuss and considering some of the party were quite late due to trains not being on time I think that’s lovely of them. So swings and roundabouts I guess.

The Verdict

  • Come for the Scandi Micheline star food, stay for the cosy relaxed atmosphere
  • Extremely good value for money
  • Wonderfully flavoursome food which is an authentic Nordic-inspired cuisine with a contemporary twist
  • Service was adequate not amazing
  • They don’t rush you out the door so you feel like you have all the time in the world to enjoy a good Fika (if you don’t know what that is you can read about that here)

All the details you need to get yourself to Aquavit London can be found below;

To visit their website click here

To see a selection of their menu click here

To visit them their address is: 1 Carlton St, St. James’s, London SW1Y 4QQ


7 thoughts on “Aquavit in London

Add yours

  1. The place does look really inviting and beautiful on a cold autumn or winter day. I love how the food is presented – those Swedish pancakes look so good!

    It’s disappointing when you go to nice places and get bad service. It’s not enough to stop me going back either, unless I felt the staff were rude or super unwelcoming. I always love sitting outside and drinking coffee. I remember in Paris, cafes were packed at 11pm with people outside. You don’t really see that in London. x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yet again you have smashed another amazing review (and not to mention how freaking good your pictures always are!!) Its such a shame that the service wasn’t amazing for such a good restaurant, you’d expect better!! Love this xx

    Liked by 1 person

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