Last night, jean and I went to Aquavit in Manhattan. The food was phenomenal. The service was great. The decor was good. So why was the place more than half empty at 9pm on a friday night?
There is a sadness to eating delicious food in a half empty restaurant, which is preferable to the indignation I feel when eating lousy food in a crowded restaurant. (Actually, let me correct that. Half empty restaurants don’t have to be sad. The most joyful experience is to eat great food at a place that is half empty because it hasn’t been discovered yet. Why is that? Is it the snobbish joy of being “in”?)
The whole experience left us shaking our heads wondering what went wrong. Are new yorkers just over the herring and lingonberries? Is itthe lack of foam and xanthan gum? To be fair, the place has been arpund for 20 years and maybe people just want something new.
Was it worth it? I think so. For us San Francisco hicks, a chance to eat upscale Swedish like this is a treat. All of the dishes were great, and some were mind-blowing. One of the standout dishes was a combination of foie gras, duck confit covered in crisped rice, arugula sorbet, and apple puree.
Tonight, we eat at Degustation, which, being a 16 seat restaurant, had better not be half empty!