Aquavit, Kita Aoyama アクアヴィット 北青山 

I have had dinner twice at Aquavit, first about a year ago and then much more recently. This slick Kita Aoyama restaurant located under the Oracle building and in the concourse behind the Lexus dealer recently celebrated its first anniversary. It bills itself as "modern Scandinavian" (great if you like salmon), and a franchise of a restaurant of the same name in New York City.

My impression of the restaurant after the first visit was a good one, with great interior design, a very personable European sommelier, good food, and efficient service. On my more recent visit I have to admit to having been slightly underwhelmed, and thinking that standards have slipped. Upon arrival my party of three was offered a table in the bar area to have some drinks. This was nice enough, but we were left alone long enough for me to begin to wonder if we were ever going to be sat at the table (this is a common risk I've found in Tokyo when you agree to a drink at the bar). Incidentally, at one point later in the evening we were all served what I think was some chilled vodkas, only to have them whisked away when the waitress realised she had served the wrong table. I suspect there is a better way to recover from such a faux pas! Later the main meals were served to the wrong people, a situation that we rectified ourselves. Not what you'd expect from a restaurant of such pretensions as this.

Eventually we were led to our table and menus were handed out, but only one menu showing the tasting menus was given, which meant that after handing the menus around I didn't really get to see what was on there properly until they arrived to take the order. Nevertheless I decided to order the chef's tasting menu and the bottomless glass of Mumm (now that's a good idea!).

The tasting menu consisted of an amuse of something foie gras-ish on a spoon, a sampler of tidbits including some smoked salmon and fish eggy and creamy things, a quite good foie gras ganache, some fairly average scampi and scallop served in a bowl with saffron cream soup, a main of a fairly bland, small piece of rare grilled beef with creamed spinach, what tasted like re-heated potato and some onion "marmalade" (except the onion was whole), then a sampler of desserts followed by some petit fours and coffee. I think there was one dish I can't remember but, to be brutally honest, either the food wasn't that memorable or the company was way more stimulating.

Even though they just scrape into my three star level, I'm sorry to say that I won't be rushing back to Aquavit anytime soon unless there is a proper revamp. The staff are pleasant enough, but they do not quite offer a level of food and service equal to the image and the price.

Tel: 03-5413-3300


Yumeji said…
Would have loved to see a photo of the "re-heated potato." Sounds like a real prize-dish!
How did Michelin miss this one, I wonder?
redbandana said…
dominic is being a bit generous with the 3 stars. went once. food was so so and the wine was actually bad. i asked the,m to taste it and they said it was fine - but really, i have sent back only 2 bottles of wine in my life and this one deserved to be on the list. being too japanese by now, we agreed to keep it with us and just walked home with it. the bar snack menu is terrible. it is a shame as the bar area chairs are very comfortable and it would be a great place to grab some wonderful food and chill out. not sure how long this will last. 1.5 stars from me. you certainly won't find me reading my economist here on a sunday night.

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