Aquavit, NYC 2

August 12, 2008

We enjoyed our meal at Aquavit in May so much that we went back on August 7, 2008 with Allison and Blair. This time we ordered the chef’s tasting menu instead of à la carte.  For aperitifs Linda and Allison had glasses of Domaine Chapuy, “Cuvée Aquavit”, Brut Grand Cru, Oger Champagne, Blair had a Scandinavian Bellini (with peach aquavit) and I had a glass of Paul Goerg Champagne Rosé. An excellent little hors d’oeuvre of jicama salad with tuna arrived.

There is an interesting twist on the Chef’s Tasting Menus. A table can order just the first one, as we did. Or it can order the paired menus, which means that half the table will get the first menu and half the table will get a second one. Or one person can have the Vegetarian Tasting Menu. While the multiple choices appealed to our sense of adventure, a close look revealed that the signature dishes were in the first menu and none of us wanted to sacrifice them. They did give us the pairings for the cheese and the main dessert. We declined the wine pairings and ordered three bottles of wine:

a 2005 ROUSSANNE / GRENACHE BLANC / PICPOUL, “ESPRIT DE BEAUCASTEL”, TABLAS CREEK, PASO ROBLES;
a 2005 BROOKS, “JANUS”, WILLAMETTE VALLEY PINOT NOIR;
and a 2004 JAX VINEYARDS, CALISTOGA CABERNET SAUVIGNON.
We were happy with all three.

A six-part amuse-gueule arrived.

On the right you can see a tasty little oyster; the one below it is salmon; three of them are herring. They each have several accoutrements which were told to us, but I didn’t note them. They were all delicious.

Then came:

First
LOBSTER ROLL
bacon, trout roe

A lobster salad is rolled in a wrapping of pickled Asian pear and topped with trout roe and tiny bacon bits. The somewhat tart mayonnaise  provides the needed contrast to the slightly sweet lobster and pear. The glass is a lemon-grass granità dosed with aquavit which we were instructed to drink at the end to cleanse the palate. I did, but it was a shame to wash away the superb flavor of the lobster roll, which was not too rich at all, and certainly not as rich as the next course.

Second
FOIE GRAS GANACHE
duck confit, apple compote

This is as difficult to describe as it is delicious. The inside of the warm foie gras mound is runny, like a warm chocolate dessert. The cube is of rich shreds of warm duck confit with crunchy nuggets to provide one form of contrast while the cool, slightly tart green apple lozenge provides two other contrasts. The course description has the foie gras as the focus, but I thought it acted more as a luscious sauce for the duck.

Third
HOT-SMOKED TROUT
apple-horseradish broth

The trout is cooked and flavored just enough by the smoking. I thought that the broth was a bit too sweet to be perfect. The garnish is sliced mushrooms, which are appropriately unassertive.

Fourth
VENISON
cured ham, lingonberry sauce, dumplings

There was no main course letdown here. The filet of venison was flavorful, juicy and tender. Its salty crisp ham wrapping gave just the right seasoning. The lingonberries were appropiately Swedish and good. I’m not sure what the tubular dumplings underneath were, probably potato, but they provided a welcome bit of starch amidst all the protein. 

Fifth
OSSAU-IRATY VIELLE
tomato tarragon salad

This sheeps milk cheese from the Pyrenées has become very trendy. The halves of cherry tomatoes in a light tarragon-olive oil dressing went well.

paired with
MONTENEBRO
truffle honey, micro greens

This fresh Spanish goat cheese log was slightly bitter and was offset beautifully by the honey which really did taste of truffles.

Sixth
HONEYDEW CONSOMMÉ
watermelon tartar, cantaloupe sorbet

This mix of three different melons with three different textures got us ready for the sweeter desserts to follow.

Seventh
CHOCOLATE AND MARZIPAN TERRINE
toasted almond ice cream, saffron-orange sauce

This dessert was very rich, but not too large.

paired with
SHEEPS YOGURT CHEESECAKE
lavender short bread, strawberry-balsamic sorbet

The second dessert was lighter.

We were also served two extra desserts for the table, a panna cotta with fruit and Aquavit’s signature dessert: the “Arctic Circle”: frozen goat cheese mousse, lemon curd, and red currant sorbet.




We were each given a choice of two dessert wines:
2004 Olivares Dulce Monastrell, a late harvest Mourvèdre from the Jumilla region in Southeast Spain and a 2006 Brachetto d’Acqui, Ca’ dei Mandorli, made from the brachetto grape in the Acqui district of the Piemonte.
  

Finally there were
Mignardises

These were as delicious as everything else had been. The little fish of lingonberry jelly were not too sweet. The chocolate truffles were nice and fresh.

The meal was superb. Every dish was well-conceived and well-executed. The service was friendly, efficient and well-paced. Aquavit deserves to be ranked among New York’s finest restaurants.

(The second menu for the paired chef’s tasting menu was:
YELLOWTAIL tuna, sweet shrimp, radish
OCTOPUS smoked avocado, hearts of palm
SEARED TUNA AND SCALLOP morels, spinach, pea brûlée
RIBEYE roasted onions, oxtail
MONTENEBRO truffle honey, micro greens
HONEYDEW CONSOMMÉ watermelon tartar, cantaloupe sorbet
SHEEPS YOGURT CHEESECAKE lavender short bread, strawberry-balsamic sorbet.
The Vegetarian Tasting Menu was
LEEK VINAIGRETTE pea shoots, black truffle
ENGLISH PEA FLAN morels, peas
ROASTED BEETS goat cheese, watercress
SALT-BAKED FENNEL corn spätzle, roasted French horn mushroom
OSSAU-IRATY VIELLE tomato tarragon salad
HONEYDEW CONSOMMÉ watermelon tartar,cantaloupe sorbet
CHOCOLATE AND MARZIPAN TERRINEtoasted almond ice cream, saffron-orange sauce.)
To see our blogpost on Aquavit from May click here.

http://www.aquavit.org

One Response to “Aquavit, NYC 2”

  1. Blair Says:

    This meal was tremendous. The flavor combinations were distinctly Scandinavian, the presentations unique, and the execution top notch. Of particular note was the amuse-gueule, each component was completely distinct from the next but still complementary. I enjoyed the meal so much that I will be having my 30th birthday party at Aquavit.


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