Restaurant Aquavit

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Restaurant information
Established 1987
Food type Scandinavian
Rating 2 Michelin stars (Michelin Guide)
Street address 65 East 55th Street
City New York City
State New York
Postal/ZIP code 10022

Aquavit is a Scandinavian restaurant located at 65 East 55th Street in Manhattan in New York City.[1] In November 2016, an outpost was launched in London by Philip Hamilton.


Aquavit was created and opened by Håkan Swahn in 1987.[2] and was a pioneer in New York in creating two distinct dining rooms, a casual café with modern but rustic fare as well as a cutting-edge modern dining room. This was conceptually based on the Stockholm restaurant, Operakällaren, whose owner, Tore Wretman, was one of Aquavit’s original partners. Aquavit with the arrival of Chef Marcus Samuelsson in 1995 garnered greater culinary recognition.[3]

After 17 years in one location (2004), Aquavit relocated in 2005 to new premises giving the restaurant an entirely new look. Aquavit opened a second restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1999, but it failed to take hold and ultimately closed in mid-2003.[4]

Aquavit enjoyed a three-star rating from The New York Times from 1995 until 2010, when it was downgraded to two stars,[5][6] and was ranked by New York Magazine in 2006 as the 9th-best restaurant in New York.

In 2002 the cook book “Aquavit and the new Scandinavian Cuisine” was written by Marcus Samuelsson based on the food of the restaurant.


The restaurant is an international restaurant with Scandinavian flair and not an ethnic restaurant. It was conceived to be a restaurant for New Yorkers and visitors to New York and not a culinary home-away-from-home for Scandinavian expats. The menu has a Scandinavian flavor profile without featuring special Scandinavian ethnic dishes. The menu favors seafood and offers several tasting menus as well as a vegetarian menu. Aquavit’s café is distinctly more traditional in its roots. A substantial portion of the menu showcases Scandinavian specialties such as Meatballs with Lingonberries, Gravlax and a variety of herrings. The Lounge offers small portions of dishes offered in the café and the Private Dining Room has a menu targeted to corporate customers.

Aquavit's design is modern but has its roots in Scandinavian designs from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, with designs of Arne Jacobsen, Poul Kjaerholm and Verner Panton. Modern photographic art by New York artists such as Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman and Laurie Simmons adorn the walls.


Aquavit features a wide array of its namesake beverage, some imported from Scandinavia but many flavored in the restaurant. The selection of Aquavits is complemented by a substantial selection of high-quality beers. Aquavit’s wine list has received numerous awards from The Wine Spectator Magazine.


The restaurant has received a number of awards and accolades over the years, including:

  • Two stars in the Michelin Guide in 2014;[7] one star in the Michelin Guide in 2013[8]
  • Two star rating by the New York Times in 2010 [6]
  • Selected 9th-best restaurant in New York 2006 by New York Magazine[9]
  • Marcus Samuelsson voted Best Chef New York in 2003 by The James Beard Foundation[10]
  • Inducted in Restaurant Hall of Fame USA in 2000[11]
  • Receiving the Ivy Award[2]
  • Best Sunday Brunch New York Magazine[12]

The executive chef of Aquavit is Emma Bengtsson.

In 2013, Zagats gave it a food rating of 25.[13]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b "Reed Business Information". Retrieved May 1, 2011. [permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Restaurants". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ "Minneapolis Aquavit closes; business-travel falloff cited". Nation's Restaurant News. 2003. 
  5. ^ Grimes, William (May 23, 2001). "A Fearless Chef With an Artistic Streak". New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Sifton, Sam (July 20, 2010). "Restaurant Review – Aquavit in Midtown". NY Times. Retrieved May 1, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Svenskkrogen Aquavit får ytterligare en Michelinstjärna". 2014-10-01. 
  8. ^ "New York City 2013-Michelin Travel and Lifestyle". Retrieved January 11, 2013. 
  9. ^ "101 Best New York Restaurants for 2006 – New York Magazine". Retrieved May 1, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Welcome to the James Beard Foundation". Retrieved May 1, 2011. 
  11. ^ "NRN's fine-dining inductees named | Nation's Restaurant News". April 17, 2000. Retrieved May 1, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Best Sunday Brunch – Best of New York Food 2007 – New York Magazine". Retrieved May 1, 2011. 
  13. ^ [2]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′38.86″N 73°58′19.99″W / 40.7607944°N 73.9722194°W / 40.7607944; -73.9722194