It was a sunny Friday morning and I was excited to start off my long weekend with a breakfast review in Aquavit London – a contemporary and relaxed Nordic fine dining restaurant located in the heart of St James, Picadilly. Following a successful branch in New York, who holds 2 Michelin stars, they decided to expand in London 2016 – adding to the recent growth and popularity of Scandinavian cafes and restaurants in London.
Before entering the restaurant, I took some time to enjoy the sunshine as well as the symmetrical and stylish exterior of Aquavit. I loved the high glass windows and the even display of flowers on each side. The reception is located on the right-hand side and upon entering we were greeted by a friendly female receptionist who kindly showed us to our table.
The restaurant has very high ceilings and being located in the heart of St James and surrounded by high-rise buildings, you imagine yourself dining in New York’s concrete jungle. You can’t help but notice the sleek and warm Nordic interior design throughout the restaurant – designed by Swedish-born Martin Brudnizki.
Even the menu design was simplistic and sleek – and this is what I love about Scandinavians, less is more.We started off our breakfast by ordering some coffee. My sister had the Swedish filtered coffee by Johan & Nyström and I had a latte with a single shot, served in typical Swedish tableware with traditional blue floral design. Both coffees were nice and easy to drink in the morning, personally, I do not like my coffee too strong and this was just the right balance for me.
Next to arrive was breakfast! I originally ordered the Aquavit full breakfast, a Scandinavian twist on the traditional English breakfast consisting of eggs of your choice, blood pudding, bacon, raggmunk and mushrooms. I mentioned to the waiter that I was looking forward to trying their raggmunk (Swedish potato pancakes), so as a result, the waiter mistakenly ordered another dish (pictured above) the raggmunk with bacon and lingonberry. When the dish arrived, the waiter was kindly offering to change the dish but once I saw that generous stack of crispy bacon on top of the raggmunk, I happily changed my mind! The crispy potato pancakes, with fresh lingonberry compote and bacon, were a match made in heaven and I found the dish to be just the right size and not too heavy – leaving space for Swedish pastries afterwards!
My sister ordered the smoked eel eggs benedict and, of course, I had to have a taste since I had never tried eel before. The eel was a pleasantly sweet and flavourful fish, with smokey undertones, which complemented the eggs benedict perfectly.
Finally, as part of my London Semla review, we got to sample Aquavit’s very own traditional Swedish Semla, lovingly baked by Head Chef Henrik Ritzén. For Shrove Tuesday, the Swedes stuff themselves with this cardamom bun that is cut, scooped and filled with almond paste and whipped cream – the Swedes version of Pancake Day.
The Aquavit Semla is hands down the best I have had to date – freshly baked with a melt-in-your-mouth soft bun and a generous amount of cream and almond paste – just the way I like it. Read more of my London Semla review here.
In time for Shrove Tuesday, Aquavit are offering Semla for one week only, starting from Monday 27th February to Sunday 5th March – well worth visiting for a fika and I would recommend advanced booking.
Overall, the breakfast at Aquavit restaurant was delicious. Every dish and pastry was executed to a high standard with the authentic Swedish flavours you would expect and more. I appreciate how Aquavit have added a contemporary twist to Swedish food without compromising on any of the traditional Scandinavian flavours. I look forward to returning to Aquavit again for their Smörgåsbord.
Having had a chat with Head Chef Henrik and CEO Philip Hamilton, we also learnt that they are in the process of compiling a special Swedish Afternoon Tea to add to their restaurant menu… BRILLIANT IDEA, which I think has the potential to become hugely popular in London – blending the current Scandinavian craze with a traditional British pastime… What’s not to like!? Genuinely cannot wait to try this.
Being Swedish-born myself, I can confidently say that it is the best Swedish restaurant I have been to in London and I think it is a great contender for receiving a Michelin star in the near future! Have you been to Aquavit? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.