London diners can be a jaded lot, but news that the two Michelin-starred Aquavit in New York was crossing the Pond to open an outpost in the British capital’s St James’s made everyone sit up and reach for their phone.
Fans of the East 55th Street flagship are in for a treat. The menu, created by its head chef Emma Bengtsson and overseen in London by La Petite Maison alum Henrik Ritzén, is styled as contemporary Nordic cuisine, which explains the seasonal forays into delicacies like venison tartare, and cod with brown shrimp and smoked egg yolk.
The secret ingredient here though, is the dining room – a warmly lit space that interior designer Martin Brudnizki has fashioned after the soaring interiors of Gothenburg City Hall in western Sweden. He has kept the original bricks and mortar of the Grade II-listed building in the tony St James’s neighbourhood, while adding unobtrusive layers of blue, green and white, simple timber, brushed and polished brass trimmed chairs and lamps, and textile wall hangings designed by Olafur Eliasson and Barbro Nilsson.
After dinner, adjourn to the bar for Montecristo cigars and some schnapps served in fish-shaped decanters designed by Svenskt Tenn.