Yesterday, Sam Sifton demoted Aquavit from three stars down to two:
Aquavit is now 23. It has been in this location since 2005, when it moved east from the Rockefeller Townhouses, across Fifth Avenue. . . .
Gone are the fireworks of the Samuelsson era, the high-wire act of matching Scandinavian food to French technique and the flavors of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. (Ruth Reichl of The New York Times awarded the restaurant three stars in 1995. William Grimes did so again in 2001; in 1988, before Mr. Samuelsson’s arrival, the restaurant was given two stars by Bryan Miller.)
Aquavit’s dining room can be somewhat lonely these days, only a little more than half full at peak hours. There is a sour scent to some of the passageways, the sort that flowers cannot battle.
But Mr. Jernmark has moved the menu toward a quiet, seasonal intensity that is well worth investigating.
This was an unsurprising outcome for a restaurant no one ever seems to talk about any more.
We certainly do not assume that Sam Sifton is reading this blog, but we note that, for several weeks running, there has not been a “terrific” or a “delicious” in his reviews. Now he needs to drop the overwrought literary references:
It has been a Swedish summer here in New York. There seem to be Stieg Larsson novels on every fourth lap on the D train choogling over the Manhattan Bridge, on every third iPad glowing in the dark of the jitney driving east on the Long Island Expressway toward Montauk.
Remind me: the D train and the iPad have what to do with Aquavit?