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Aquavit London

Restaurants, Scandinavian St James’s
3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

An upmarket Nordic restaurant near Piccadilly Circus.

With design-mag interiors and a two-Michelin-starred NYC predecessor, hopes for the London outpost of this Nordic joint were as high as the ceilings.

The smorgasbord kicked things off beautifully. A tiny slab of blood pudding covered with lardo – a piggy chemise – and sprinkled with tart lingonberries was killer. Likewise a skillet of cured matje herring, potato and sour cream, stuck smäck-bäng in that in-between sweet/savoury zone that often defines Scando cuisine.

For starters proper, venison tartare with berries and juniper, scattered with sour wood sorrel leaves (genius!) was a bucolic little plate. Topping a pile of crab on rye brioche was a windswept quiff of cured fennel. It was bracingly fresh – moreish stuff all round.

If only we’d stopped there. At £29, a deconstructed hash of beef fillet, stewed onions and a set yolk was way overpriced; while a plate of meatballs and mash was far too salty. I honestly would’ve preferred the Ikea canteen version. The Arctic Birds nest dessert may have been a looker – noodle nest, goat’s cheese and sea buckthorn ice-cream ‘eggs’, micro petals – but the mishmash of flavours was underwhelming. As for rose hip soup with almond cake and rum, it was actively repugnant.

But what really stuck in the craw was the service; with the exception of our delightful waitress, it was snail’s-paced. That aside, stick with the smorgasbord and starters and you’ll have a riot – as well as avoiding a bill as lofty as your average Swede.


Address: 1 St James’s Market, 1 Carlton Street
Transport: Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £150.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 7am-10.30pm; Sun 8am-10pm
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Users say (3)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

3.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

After feeling rather nostalgic about Amsterdam and missing my favourite herring snack, I had to get my hands on something fishy...

What we had: 

From the Smörgåsbord/Starters:

* Pickles

* Herrings three ways: mustard, vend ace roe and chives, brantevik

* Liver paté

* Gravlax, mustard and dill sauce

* Veal tartare, dill, cauliflower, parmesan


* Whole boned trout, dill, almonds, capers

* Rib-eye, smoked bearnaise, hasselback potato

* Beef Rydberg


* Arctic Bird’s Nest

* Panna cotta, sea buckthorn, meringue

Out of the smörgåsbord and starters, the veal tartare and liver paté were real stand out. I was a little disappointed with the gravlax as the portion was quite small and the flavour rather muted. The herring also was small however it was interesting to have them three ways for variety. The whole boned trout was impressive and cooked perfectly with lovely flavours from the dill but not overpowered by the capers. The rib-eye was solid and had the best looking hasselback potato I’ve seen yet. The beef Rydberg was also tender and rich. Dessert here was not as strong; however the Arctic Bird’s Nest does win points for presentation, colour and textures. It’s fruity, sweet, but not overly rich and has a lovely combination of textures. The panna cotta was also not bad, the sea buckthorn giving a nice herbaceous tart flavour. Service here needs a little bit of work - staff could be better educated on the menu and in offering suggestions but front of house is solid. Overall, it’s really nice to see something different in London as Nordic cuisine isn’t really that well showcased and I’d be keen to try more of the seafood on the menu. 

Tip: They have a Pre/Post Theatre (two courses £22/ three courses £25) or a Set Lunch menu (two courses £24/ three courses £28.50) that are pretty good value for money.

Good For: date night, something different, large groups, business breakfast/ lunch/ dinner.


Aquavit landed in London a couple of months ago, bringing the Nordic Brasserie concept. The one in London is different than its sister Michelin star restaurant in New York City, hence more approachable. I went here on a couple of occasions and tried many dishes. The menu has a lot of seafood items, plus the most delicious Swedish meatballs you can find in London. There is a lovely bar on one side of the room, all so glamorous. When we were seated at the bar the service was a little awkward, it was very slow then when we complained, we were offered extra desserts then we found out we were still charged for them. I hope that was just a one-time case because I'd love to go back for those meatballs. 


Nordic cuisine seems to be the latest craze with this newly opened restaurant, well known in NYC for having 2 Michelin stars. Staff were on point with their service, helpful and attentive without being intrusive. Our waitress was full of enthusiasm and knew the menu like the back of her hand. We asked for some recommendations as everything was new to us and she described the dishes so passionately, we couldn't not order them. The dishes were small in size but perfect for me as I like to try lots of different dishes and they didn't disappoint. They were clean with all types of textures and flavours which went well together. A bit on the pricey side, but it's good food with good service so you get what you pay for. They were completely wheelchair friendly too with step free entrance and a door man to make you feel that extra bit special. Spacious and accessible toilets were just a short lift ride away. This place would be great for any occasion and worth trying if your tastebuds are begging for something new and different.

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