“Aquavit London is a fresh, new concept that combines inspired signature dishes with sophisticated design, all in a uniquely Nordic style. Situated in the recently re-developed St James’s Market in central London.”
The success of the relatively newly opened Aquavit in part plays off the big success of the New York Aquavit which boasts 2x Michelin stars and has heritage dating back to 1987. Whilst the NY restaurant is a high end ‘fine dining’ establishment however, the London venue is targeting a slightly different market – less formal, still smart but casual, available for all meal times – breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I was lucky enough to be invited to join a small selection of guests plus a couple of the Aquavit team in their private dining room which also features a reception room for welcome drinks. The sociable private dining room is set up with a large circular table making it great for private parties.
The evening was a wine flight paired with signature dishes from the restaurant. We started with Mackerel tartare canapes with sorrel and lumpfish roe paired with a crisp and light 2015 Chateau Miraval Rose (Cotes de Provence). The wines were supplied by Famille Perrin (photo below from one of the vineyards) which produce a number of great wines including perhaps one of the most well known regions – Chateauneuf du Pape which featured in 3 out of the 4 wines we had.
The starter was delicious; light, fresh fish with clean flavours – which was not at all surprising being a Scandinavian restaurant. The dressed crab was on a rye brioche with ribbons of fennel and sea vegetables such as samphire – one of my top 3 vegetables. In fact number one vegetable to accompany fish. This was served with a 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc white wine which was fresh and delicate but with smooth notes of honey. It was a great wine to start the first of the three mains dishes off with.
We then had Swedish Meatballs!… Of course. Deliciously succulent and tender, the meatballs came with a a very smooth mash potato and a classic Swedish accompaniment of Lingenberries as well as pickled cucumber and a creamy sauce. The dish is really well balanced – meaty and creamy with the berries and cucumber to cut through the fatty notes. The main course was paired with a medium bodied 2010 Chateauneuf du Pape ‘les sinards’ which was delicious and could have been drunk by itself or with chicken, or meaty pasta etc. The dish which is available on the a la carte menu is only £16 which is very reasonable considering the overall quality and enjoyment factor. It’s a really comforting and satisfying plate of food.
We finished with a delicious cheese course – Wellesley and Kirkham Lancashire with a quince jelly. Both were quite hard cheeses which meant they were aged and robust to tackle the amazing 2009 Vintage Cheateauneuf du Pape Rouge (Chateau De Beaucastel). This wine was my favourite as I love the depth of flavour that the ageing process gives to full bodied reds. It was clearly balanced and aged well in oak barrels which gave it tremendous depth of flavour. This wine is a blend of 30% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache , 10% Syrah, 10% Counoise, 5% Cinsault and the rest a blend of Vaccarese, Terret Noir, Muscardin, Picpoul, Picardan, Bourboulenc, and Roussanne. I assure you the wine is anything but a mongrel!
The 2009 vintage signs a great year. Beautiful deep black colour, a mature nose fine and complex nose, this wine explodes on the palate with aromas of spices and liquorice and soft, silky tannins.
Overall I was incredibly impressed with the quality of food from Aquavit and whilst I thought it would be good it definitely exceeded my expectations. The crab starter and meatballs were the stars of the show for me. Thanks to Famille Perrin for the wines. A really enjoyable evening.
Famille Perrin: http://familleperrin.com/en/