Paul and I didn't exchange Christmas gifts last month. Instead, we decided to pool the money we normally would spend on each other and treat ourselves to a restaurant whose price tag we normally would shun.
Yesterday we finally made our "Christmas" outing: Sunday brunch at Aquavit. It's a midtown Manhattan restaurant specializing in Scandinavian cuisine that is frequently mentioned as one of the top restaurants in the city.
The brunch is a buffet (rare in New York City), so we really did get to try most of Aquavit's specialties.
I've heard of a meat coma (particularly after Paul entered a pork chop eating contest a few years back, but that's another story). After Aquavit, I had a herring hangover.
Mustard herring. Dill herring. Some type of soy-maple herring. Two dishes of gray herring. Unfortunately, the dishes weren't labeled.
There was fish at every corner. A few types of salmon. Even fish eggs perched atop deviled eggs, looking exactly like pomegranate seeds.
My favorite food? The gravlax. The restaurant recommends you try it, but since it too wasn't labeled, I hadn't been sure I had sampled it until I got home and googled some images.
It had a crust that was a cross between a pie and filo dough, topped with salmon and I think dill and several other ingredients.
I also especially like the cheeses, and of course I tried at least one of each of the bite-size desserts. Surprisingly, the Swedish meatballs weren't even as good as the ones made by Paul or his mom, although I did like the side of lingonberry sauce.
I'd also never been to a restaurant with service quite like this. Your dirty plate was cleared from the table when you returned to the buffet, of course. But on top of that, the servers also replaced your silverware and gave you a clean cloth napkin.
We were there about three hours, which seemed to be standard. I didn't see one table turn over the entire time.
On top of that, the meal came with a Danish beer (for me) or a Bloody Mary (Paul's choice). Overall, it was a very merry Christmas!