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Return to Aquavit Cafe

My friend and I were wowed by our dinner at Aquavit Cafe in April. The kitchen sent out a bunch of free food, and everything we had was first-rate, so we decided to try it again on Saturday night.

We both decided on the prix fixe ($37), choosing the herring sampler and the Swedish meatballs. I chose the Arctic Circle for dessert. I described these dishes in two earlier reports (here and here), so I won’t repeat myself. This time, there was no free food—not that I had any right to expect any. Service was somewhat less efficient than before.

A $20 wine pairing is available with the prix fixe. The herring sampler came with beer and potato vodka, as in the main dining room. It’s a Swedish tradition, and I can’t complain. But the meatballs came with the most bitter Merlot I’ve ever been served. Didn’t these guys see Sideways? This was an uninspired choice, to say the least. Happily, fizzy dessert wine with our third course washed away the Merlot’s acidic taste.

I continue to like Aquavit Cafe for an offbeat casual dinner. It’s also an excellent date place, as you can actually hear yourself talk—an increasingly rare luxury in Manhattan restaurants.

Aquavit Cafe (65 E 55th St between Park & Madison Aves, East Midtown)

Food: *½
Service: *
Ambiance: **
Overall: *½

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