Mon-Fri, 11:45am-2:30pm and 5:30pm-10:30pm; Sat, 5:30pm-10:30pm; Sun, closed
E, M at Fifth Ave.-53rd St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
Initially, the difference between the old, familiar Aquavit and the hyperstylized, postmillennial version is a little jarring. The entrance to the restaurant’s quarters resembles a bleakly modernist public square on the outskirts of, say, Göteborg, replete with scraggly trees and rows of abandoned marble benches. Inside, the bar has been greatly expanded into a long lounge area, where you can twirl about in high-backed Jacobsen “swan” chairs. The restaurant’s homemade aquavits used to be stored behind the bar; now they’re displayed along the wall, like pieces of art, in luminous square tankards. The dining room is small, even claustrophobic, by the standards of the grandiose old space, but the café, once part of the bar, now has a room of its own, appointed with simple butcher-block tables, pendulous sixties-era chandeliers, and orange cone chairs of the type you might see in the executive lounge of an excessively posh Scandinavian airline. Once you’ve adjusted to this new aesthetic, however, the food at Aquavit continues to be excellent; in fact, it’s arguably better than before. After the departure of chef Marcus Samuelsson in April of 2010, former executive sous chef Marcus Jernmark is in the kitchen, making classic Scandinavian preparations like herring, gravlax, and contemporary twists like venison tartare.Prix-Fixe Menus
Three course lunch, $35; four course dinner, $85
Chef's Tasting Menu
Mon.—Sat., 5:30 p.m.—10:30 p.m., seven courses, $125