London’s St James’s is soon to play host to an outpost of New York’s much-loved Nordic restaurant, Aquavit – bookings are now open for first service on November 24.
The flagship Aquavit, located in midtown Manhattan, won two Michelin stars in 2015 and is headed by talented Swedish-born executive chef Emma Bengtsson, only the second female chef in the US to run a two-star kitchen, and the first Swedish chef to do so.
Before joining Aquavit NYC as executive pastry chef in 2010, Bengtsson worked in some of Sweden's top restaurants, from an internship at Edsbacka Krog – the only two-star Michelin restaurant in Sweden at that time – to Prinsen, one of Stockholm’s oldest and busiest bistros, as well as Operakällaren, the award-winning historical restaurant located in Stockholm’s Opera House.
Bengtsson will oversee the London branch, with Henrik Ritzén (formerly at Dover Street Arts Club, La Petite Maison and Lutyens, London) as executive chef.
Dishes (starters from £5; mains, from £18; desserts, from £7) will evolve with the Nordic seasons and will include butter-poached cod with fennel aïoli and salt-baked celeriac root; seared duck breast with pickled quince and buckwheat porridge, and classic choices such as toast Skagen – the Nordic version of prawns on toast.
Of course Aquavit itself, the Scandinavian spirit distilled from grain or potatoes and flavoured with herbs and spices, features on the wine card – expect house-infused flavours such as horseradish or white cranberry and fennel.
The airy two-floor London dining space has been created by Martin Brudnizki, the studio behind Sexy Fish, The Ivy and Scott’s, and showcases the works of important Nordic designers such as Olafur Eliasson. Furnishings are by Svenskt Tenn, contemporary silverware by Georg Jensen and uniforms by chic Scandinavian fashion brand Filippa K.
Aquavit CEO Philip Hamilton says, “Since living in this city I have been struck by how much Londoners have embraced Nordic culture. Our aim is to create a relaxed, morning-to-midnight dining experience.”