Wrapping Up The Rest of Restaurant Week – Aquavit, Town, and Blue Water Grill
The last two days of the official Restaurant Week, I’ve had lunch with my co-workers at Aquavit on Thursday and on Friday, I did a double-header of lunch (with Ariel at Town) and dinner (with Ariel and Helen). The first one is very familiar since I went there last year and the latter two were new places just to expand our horizons of what the city can offer.
At Aquavit, the menu was very similar to last year’s except the fact that I’m eating in the Dining Room and the small tweaks in the menu. Instead of the avocado soup, they served the chilled corn soup for the appetizer; replacing the grilled salmon, they had the hot smoked salmon, and finally for dessert, they substituted the chocolate peanut butter cake with a chocolate custard cake.
Since I remembered what the dishes tasted like from last year, I opted for the ones I haven’t had, which is basically everything I’ve mentioned before.
The chilled corn soup was sweet and refreshing. The pepper salad added a spicy kick while the scallop added another layer of sweetness to the soup. The hot smoked salmon was cooked well instead of my preferred medium-rare. In terms of taste, it was good and still relatively moist with the crisp skin. The vegetables harmonized with the fish and added crunchiness. As for the dessert of chocolate custard cake, it was a very intense chocolate cake. It’s like eating a cross between fudge and a dense brownie but what appealed to me the most was the very refreshing, minty ice cream on top.
I almost forgot to mention that my supervisor actually bought three flavored aquavits for all of us to try – grapefruit, coriander and horseradish. If you haven’t tried aquavit before, just think of it as Scandinavian vodka. The grapefruit was the sweetest of the three, with a hit of citrus. Coriander is quite pungent that I could smell it before tasting it. As for the horseradish (my supervisor’s favorite), it’s quite pungent as well but not as strong as the coriander. A new venture for me to try in terms of the liquor world but I would stick with cocktails since I can’t really drink hard liquor shots before I would stumble and need the rest of the afternoon off.
Overall, Aquavit’s service and food was very good but I’m not as excited as I was last year since the food was familiar to me. Also, it was fun and interesting to have lunch with my relatively new co-workers. If you want to see the slideshow of the meal beyond what I’ve talked about, click here.
Moving onto Friday’s lunch at Town, Ariel had arrived late since he’s schlepping his butt from the Financial District to Midtown West. I chose this restaurant since it’s relatively a last minute reservation that I could find since Del Posto‘s RW menu looked very unappealing to me. I don’t really have high hopes for this place; I’m just curious if it’s good at all.
Ariel and I had the almond gazpacho since that is more appealing than a salad. It’s an interesting take but not exactly what I had in mind. The texture is really gritty from the almonds and it’s relatively thick. The small fritter of a crabcake was a nice touch but it’s not crisp.
The steak frites that Ariel wanted, was decent. The shortrib was cooked to a medium-rare but it’s quite salty. The fries were crisp and salted but the herbs sprinkled on the fries didn’t really add much flavor.
My duck torellini was quite al dente than what I would prefer in a tortellini. I think it’s a bit thicker than what it should be. In terms of flavor, the duck was pretty much lackluster despite the meat being very tender.
Moving onto dessert, Ariel’s mocha fondant was fine. The fondant was smooth and creamy with a hint of mocha flavor but it’s not a thrilling dessert to eat.
As for my strawberry claufouti, it’s a tad better than the fondant. The claufouti was warm with a nice vibrant flavor of strawberries. The pistachio gelato on top doesn’t have the wonderful buttery flavor that nuts has. Looks nice but it ain’t that good.
Since I’ve told them that it’s Ariel’s birthday (it was on Friday), they served us a basket full of chocolate filled beignets. Honestly, these beignets were better than the desserts we had earlier. Fresh and warm. Oozing with chocolate when you bite off it’s fried, sugar-coated exterior. This was really the highlight of the entire meal.
Town is swanky but their food is really bland. Thankfully, I don’t have to pay their regular priced food.
Finally, dinner at Blue Water Grill. When I arrived to BWG a bit early and waiting for Ariel and Helen to arrive from work, this place was already packed with people. Even the walk-ins inquire for seating and they either have to eat outside in the humid heat or you have to wait until 9:45 for a table indoors. Thankfully, I made reservations.
When they all finally showed up and got seated, we ordered in a simple fashion. Since there’s three choices for each course, we all shared as a group, except for the first course which we had one gazpacho and two tartare tastings.
Ariel’s stone fruit gazpacho was a better take on the gazpacho than what we had earlier the afternoon at Town. It’s smoother, more refreshing and a bit more authentic.
Helen and I had the tartare tasting, which is pretty much a foodgasm for all of us (I shared with Ariel). It’s sort of an upside down nigiri. The rice was pan-fried to have a caramelized, crisp crust topped with either tuna, salmon, or hamachi tartare with Satur Farms’ micro herbs, drizzled with a nori vinaigrette. It blew our minds that all of us had our moment of silence and moaned how good it was. When we were slouching back in our chairs, our waiter came to our table and asked, “How’s everything?” Ariel answered, “Very good. Is it possible to have a lifetime supply of the tartare tastings?”
Helen wanted to add lobster sliders to the meal. I expected to be an appetizer size but I was imagining a bit larger portion. Anyway, the chips were nothing special but the sliders were good. My tiff would be there’s too much bread (it’s a mini brioche bun) in comparison to the lobster meat filling.
The seafood-centric entrees panned out to be quite boring compared to the appetizers. The sesame crusted mahi-mahi was good in terms of textures but the flavors didn’t astound me, except for the nuttiness of the toasted sesame. My prosciutto wrapped jumbo shrimp was pretty good. I don’t really cared much about the chunks of green heirloom tomato they added. As for Helen’s grilled Idaho rainbow trout, it’s fine but the sauce tasted funny to me. Something about the flavor of olives and other flavors that made my palate thinking, “What the heck am I tasting?”
As we moved on to dessert, I have told the host that it’s Ariel’s birthday so he gets another candle to blow out on his chocolate torte topped with black forest cherry ice cream. It’s fine and it’s a simple dessert.
Helen got the strawberry watermelon fizz that’s made of strawberries, watermelon, and sparkling mint syrup. It’s the best of the three desserts but I realized when I’m eating the individual elements of the dessert, the strawberry was pretty bland. The meringue was actually the best thing in that dessert even though I don’t like meringues that much.
As for my double peach pie this particular dessert really tanked. Too much crust. Very little peach filling. The entire thing tasted like the bourbon ice cream. Meh. I don’t even the flavor of bourbon.
Lesson here, go for the appetizers, skip pretty much everything else.
65 East 67th Street
New York, NY 10022
Blue Water Grill
31 Union Sq W
New York, NY 10003