Monday, February 2, 2009

restaurant or psychiatric ward?

On Saturday, Grace, Monica, and I found ourselves on our way to Aquavit, a Scandinavian restaurant located on E. 55th St, for lunch. 

The first thing that came to mind when we entered the restaurant was that the architectural style of the furniture was very sleek and minimalistic. Grace and Monica thought of a higher end version of an Ikea home display. Secondly, our hostess and waiter both were rather eccentric in their behaviors. They didn't help make us feel welcome, but instead gave off an impression that we were getting checked into a pychiatric ward. It also didn't help that the setting of the restaurant was very quiet and still. I almost felt like I had to whisper in order to not disrupt the stuffy silence.  

We all got the prefixe restaurant week lunch special comprised of 3 courses. Being a chilly day, we opted for the butternut squash soup and hot-smoked salmon. For dessert, Monica got the chocolate custard cake with caramelized banana and cashew ice cream; Grace and I got the artic circle, a goat-cheese parfait with passionfruit curd and black currant sorbet. 

The butternut squash soup was perfect to warm our bodies up from the cold wind that day. The soup was garnished with cardamom seeds and marshmallows, which simulated the feeling of drinking hot cocoa. Creamy yet not too thick, the soup had a salty tang to it that accentuated the flavor of the butternut squash. We were all satisfied. 

The hot-smoked salmon came next. It came with beets, potatoes, and orange-mustard sauce. Cooked raw-medium, the salmon was soft, flaky, and flavorful. With every bite I took, I could taste the smokiness of the juicy flesh. The fish complemented well with the mustard sauce and potatoes. 

Finally, it's dessert time! I wasn't sure what to expect with goat-cheese parfait, but I wanted to try it because it sounded interesting. I thought the texture would be similar to a yogurt parfait, so I was surprised when I saw a cone-shaped block come on the plate. The goat-cheese parfait was garnished with a thin wafer crisp with a dollop of black currant sorbet on it. The dessert overall was light and refreshing and ended the meal well. The goat-cheese parfait had a texture similar to ice cream and went extremley well with the passionfruit curd, while the black currant sorbet helped to refresh my palate. 

Overall, the meal at Aquavit was very good in taste, but I feel like any good restaurant can make the butternut squash soup and salmon. The dessert is the only thing that makes a visit to Aquavit worthwhile. Other than that, there is nothing extraordinary about the restaurant and the environment will definitely not be missed!


Anonymous said...

ahhh hyemyung what a food critic!
you should totally be a food critic :) haha nutrition applies right?

anyways, sounds so good!!!

chaka said...

pro critic... i feel like i just ate there. u should keep an updated list of top 10 places to eat! it can become like a mini zagat rating (zagat? is that right?)

jenso said...

ditto alexa and chaka! i thought i was reading some kind of "editor's note" from food magazine! hahaha. good for you, hyem :-)

i'm definitely loving the description of salmon, being a passionate lover of seafood. let's go to a good seafood restaurant when i get back! whatever you recommend, i know i'll love it for sure.

oh btw, what should i try in paris? i know their pastries are good, but i know nothing else...