Elegant Scandinavian Restaurant in St. James
Category : Restaurant
| Cuisine : Nordic
Address : St. James's Market, 1 Carlton Street , St. James, London, SW1Y 4QQ, UNITED KINGDOM - Directions
Web : www.aquavitrestaurants.com/london
Opening Times : Mon-Fri: 7.30am-10.30pm, Sunday: 11am–10.00pm
Closest Tube : Piccadilly Circus
St James has never looked so svelte than it has after the addition of the £450 million St James‘s Market development, which includes the import of Aquavit - a New Nordic restaurant that originally opened doors in New York in 1986 and soon after earned a pair of Michelin stars. The new restaurant nearly doubles the size of the Manhattan original, homing in on Wolseley-style all-day bistro fare over the fine dining of its American sibling.
In fact, the restaurant bears more in common with its Piccadilly neighbour than you might expect. Designer Martin Brudnizki has channelled the grandeur of David Collins‘ work at The Wolseley, with a distinctly Nordic vibe. Art Deco booths and chairs and frosted glass dividers are interspersed throughout a dining room replete with pale woods and smooth edges, with fixtures from a number of Scandinavian design mavens, including Olafur Eliasson textiles, George Jensen silverware and Svenkst Tenn furnishings. The restaurant includes two dynamic private spaces ideal for business meetings.
The kitchens are spearheaded by executive chef Emma Bengtson and Henrik Ritzén of Arts Club and Lutyens, and have infused their New Nordic menu with a good deal of warmth, and paired most dishes with a selection from their extensive Aquavit collection. We kicked our meal off with a couple thimblefuls of the liquor and selections from the Smorgasbord section of the menu. Blood pudding with lingonberries, bacon and lardo popped with porcine flavour, while liver paté was creamy and indulgent. Both were exceptional with the schnapps.
A starter of crab with rye brioche and fennel was polished and smoothly flavoured, the sweetness of the crustacean playing well with the rye brioche. For our mains we continued with seafood, enjoying a delightfully caramelised fillet of halibut topped with razor thin slices of fennel and dressed with Sandiford sauce studded with high-viz trout roe. We opted to complement this with Jansson‘s Temptation - a casserole of potatoes, onions, pickled sprats, bread crumbs and cream.
We also enjoyed a meaty slice of turbot with horseradish and brown butter was delicious, and coupled well with a side of purple sprouting broccoli with smoked anchovy. To finish the meal we opted for the Arctic Bird‘s Nest - a remarkable dessert of goats cheese parfait dabbed with sea buckthorn to replicate the yellow of a yoke, ensconced in a white chocolate egg and nestled within a honey tuile nest. It was one of the most aesthetically pleasing puddings we‘ve come across this year. We can only hope that more New Nordic restaurants of this calibre our rolled out in the capital.