Words Hannah Hopkins
Britain has embraced Nordic culture with open arms, buying books about how to employ ‘hygge’ in their daily lives and enjoying some time out for ‘fika’. It seems only fitting that the capital’s food scene is following suit, as a flurry of Nordic restaurants open up.
Based in the St. James’s Market redevelopment, Aquavit is one of them. Headed up by Emma Bengtsson, Executive Chef of the two Michelin-starred Aquavit New York, it showcases the best of Nordic cuisine and design and is a delight to the eyes as well as the taste buds.
Already gaining a cult following for its brunch menu – smoked eel Benedict anyone? – it also provides the perfect opportunity to have a fika moment, with an array of cinnamon rolls, cardamon rolls and croissants on offer from breakfast to brunch, best washed down with a Scandi Mule.
Dinner is an Instagrammer’s paradrise. Dishes are colourful and arrive on intricately decorated crockery. Kick things off with a smörgåsbord of small sharing plates that celebrate the Nordic region’s traditional seafood dishes. The menu includes shrimp skagen; herrings; gravadlax; and vendace roe. Then tuck into venison tartare with wild blueberries and juniper, as well as main courses including Turbot with horseradish and brown butter and Swedish meatballs with lingonberries and pickled cucumber.
For dessert, you cannot miss Emma Bengtsson’s New York signature Arctic Bird’s Nest (not nearly as messy looking as it sounds) and the oh-so-elegant rosehip soup with almond ice cream, almond cake and rum.Standout cuisine aside, you need to visit to see the stunning interior. Overseen by the design studio of Swedish-born Martin Brudnizki (The Ivy, Scott’s and Sexy Fish), the whole place takes inspiration from Gunnar Asplund’s design of Gothenburg City Hall in Sweden. The result is a laid-back yet sophisticated environment that exudes all things Nordic. On the night we visited, the handsome marble bar was packed with punters sampling aquavits and Nordic-inspired cocktails. A sign of things to come…
Aquavit St James’s Market, 1 Carlton Street, SW1; 020 7024 9848