Aquavit Café NYC

August 14, 2008

On August 8, 2008, Linda and I went to the Aquavit Café for a light dinner before a performance of Pete Gurney’s new play, Buffalo Gal at Primary Stages on East 59th Street. The café is in the front of the new Aquavit establishment, which also includes the Aquavit Dining Room, where we had dined the evening before, the lounge-bar and a private dining room.

For aperitif Linda had a glass of the Chapuy “Cuvée Aquavit” Brut Grand Cru  champagne and I had a Midtown Martini: cucumber aquavit, dry vermouth, sea salted cucumber wheels.   We ordered a bottle of Domaine Força Real, a pleasant Langedoc red wine. An amuse-gueule of a paté of salmon with thin toast ovals arrived.  

Linda started with the
three kinds of salmon, Jansson’s temptation
There was a generous pile of thinly sliced smoked salmon with a dab of dill mustard sauce; a round of salmon cooked with oriental spices, served with dabs of black and white sauces and salmon tartare on a bed of crème fraiche with cucumber ribbons. Alongside was a bowl of Jansson’s temptation: shredded potato, anchovies, bread crumbs and crème fraiche.  
My first course was
frisee, chorizo, lemon juice

There was plenty of octopus and spicy sausage amidst the greens. I enjoyed it even if it was more Spanish than Swedish.
Linda’s main course was
sautéed potatoes, mustard cream, egg yolk

The beef and potatoes had been coarsely diced and browned. A glob of chopped cooked cabbage was served with it. Linda was instructed to add the egg yolk and mix just before eating to get the right texture. She was also supposed to use the bowl of crème fraiche with mustard, but didn’t. She was disappointed with the dish. She had ordered it thinking that it would be the most interesting Swedish meat on the short café menu, but it really didn’t rise above beef and potato cubes.
My main course was the evening’s special:
Flageolet beans, fava beans

This was excellent. The braised lamb shank had been shredded and formed into a cube. It was then heavily browned on all sides forming a delicious crust. The flageolets, a traditional French accompaniment for lamb, were perfect, but the too-large fava beans added nothing.
We skipped dessert; I had a very good espresso and we went off to the play, which we enjoyed a lot.

The meal had been very pleasant. The cuisine was carefully thought out and prepared even though this is the lower-priced informal room. But it is not at all in the same category as the Aquavit Dining Room next door. The service was excellent and it was quiet as there were not many customers on this early August Friday evening. The waitress told us that the Café does a big weekday lunch business.  

To see our blogpost on our meal at The Aquavit Dining Room the evening before click here.

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