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Aquavit London

Restaurants St James’s
3 out of 5 stars

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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