Near MOMA, PLAZA and Rockefeller Center


Initially, the difference between the old, familiar Aquavit and the hyperstylized, postmillennial version is a little jarring. The entrance to the restaurant’s quarters resembles a bleakly modernist public square on the outskirts of, say, Göteborg, replete with scraggly trees and rows of abandoned marble benches. Inside, the bar has been greatly expanded into a long lounge area, where you can twirl about in high-backed Jacobsen “swan” chairs. The restaurant’s homemade aquavits used to be stored behind the bar; now they’re displayed along the wall, like pieces of art, in luminous square tankards. Once you’ve adjusted to this new aesthetic, however, the food at Aquavit continues to be excellent; in fact, it’s arguably better than before. After the departure of chef Marcus Jernmark in 2014, former pastry chef Emma Bengtsson is in the kitchen with her take on classic Scandinavian preparations like herring, gravlax, and contemporary twists like venison tartare. — Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld

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