I finally had the pleasure of dining at this famous Scandinavian establishment during their Herring Festival to celebrate the Summer Solstice which is a major event especially for the families and friends to get together to celebrate the Midsummer, the longest day of the year.
Herring Festival is being held at the front dining room which is the Aquavit Bistro. If you want to try dining at the Aquavit but you prefer to be more casual with somewhat lower price point menu items then Bistro is the right place for you. It is a smaller room, located by the entrance before you get to the lounge area.
We were offered the regular bistro menu along with the $35/per person Herring Festival self serve buffet option. It had an $11 option to get a shot glass of flavored aquavit (alcoholic drink distilled either from grain or, more commonly, potatoes) and a glass of Carlsberg beer.
We were there for the Herring Festival and the buffet looked incredible for the price they were offering at. It consisted of ten different types of pickled herring, salmon, meatballs, boiled potatoes, sliced cheese, tomato salad, dessert and more. You can't find a better deal than this at this type of a restaurant in New York City. Each dish was better than the next and after two trip to the buffet we were happily satisfied with the selection and quality of the food. We finished another set of aquavit from the selection of about dozen flavors. It's strong drink but depending on the flavor it goes down very smoothly.
On the way out our waiter notified us about their on going prix-fix lunch $25 and dinner $35 menus which gave us another reason to come back to this great place. Of course one of these days I would like to dine in the back, main dining room but we can save that for a special occasion. By the way long time chef Marcus Samuelson left the helm to the new executive chef Marcus Jernmark who we had the delight of briefly meeting after our superb meal. Some of his dishes like the Venison Tartar, Hot-Smoked Brook Trout, Seared Arctic Char, Chatham Cod Confit, etc. looked so tempting that we could have easily stayed if our full stomachs allowed us. Also to top that of Chef Jernmark offers an amazing tasting menu.
Update: August 9-14 & 16-21 ~ Annual Crayfish Festival featuring Peel and East Crayfish alongside a buffet that includes various crayfish preparations and signature classics. $28 Lunch and $35 Dinner: http://www.aquavit.org/restaurant/newyork/offers.asp
65 East 55th Street
(between Madison & Park Avenues)
New York, NY 10022