The NORTH Nordic Food Festival starts in New York City on October 2, but you can get Scandinavian cuisine year-round at the best of the city’s Nordic restaurants—and one retailer—listed below. Although each has its individual merits, all serve boundary-pushing food that often relies on unusual or foraged greens and offal. The Vikings have landed, to the benefit of everyone’s tummies. By Jessica Allen.
Tony’s Table: Calamari And Heirloom Tomato Salad From Aquavit
Aquavit isn’t new—it’s been around since 1987. In fact, it helped put Scandinavian cooking on the proverbial map, after former executive chef Marcus Samuelsson won a James Beard award and the restaurant received three stars from the New York Times in 1995. The restaurant is now led by executive chef Marcus Jernmark, and it recently received a Michelin star. The seasonal menu might include Icelandic cod with kale, sunchokes, and langoustine, or carrot and goat cheese, along with lavender, roasted hazelnuts, and navel orange. Expect refinement.
Aska serves food from Scandinavia using ingredients from upstate, Long Island, and other pastoral lands around New York City. The multi-course dinner often features crackers made from pig’s blood and dolloped with sea buckthorn, dill ice cream, and pickled herring with egg yolk. Whatever you get will be carefully prepared, then carefully explained to you by a member of the kitchen staff. At less than $100 for seven seasonal, elegant, thought-provoking courses, this just might be the best deal in town.
The Danish chef in charge of the kitchen at Acme focuses on new Nordic, taking the best flavors and preparations from around the Baltic Sea and using locally sourced products. Depending on the time of year, the menu may feature crispy whole fish served with zucchini tzatziki and squash flowers, or raw foie gras and langoustine, with burnt lemon and white walnuts. (Indeed, one whole section of the menu is simply titled “Raw.”) For dessert, finish with the beer and bread porridge, adorned with salted caramel ice cream.
Popular Greenpoint bar Tørst recently opened Luksus, a 26-seat restaurant located in the back of the house. It serves a $75 tasting menu Tuesday through Friday with a focus on the tastes of Denmark. (Luksus means “luxury” in Danish.) You can get the beer pairing for an additional $45 or a nonalcoholic pairing for $25. Among the snacks and dishes on offer are a lamb and tongue salad, lobster and mango relish, and rhubarb mousse, with pickled beets, beet purée, and beetroot meringue.
Sockerbit is a West Village candy store that gets its goodies from Sweden. These imports range from chocolates, including coconut-covered caramels and marzipan, to pretty, flavorful gummies to fluffy, cherry-kissed marshmallows to salty-sweet or fruit-flavored licorice. Indeed, all told Sockerbit offers 140 different types of candy to choose from, organized in bins in an entirely white store, which makes the funky colors pop. Everything is one price, so you can mix and match and scoop until your heart’s content.