Aquavit - St James's Market, London
The hunt for the best brunch in London had me practically skipping to Aquavit in the newly developed St James’s Market. Aquavit brings with it the reputation of its fine-dining counterparts in Tokyo and Manhattan (where it has received 2 Michelin stars) the London branch is a decidedly more casual affair of contemporary Nordic dining. I have to give it to her, Hannah my amazing gal-pal and fellow foodie has picked this weeks’ London brunch spot of choice. Of Norwegian origin, she is beaming with Scandinavian pride and we haven’t even seen the menu yet.
From the moment you set foot inside – you are impressed. The light streams in through floor to ceiling windows of the double floored space, swirling grey marble floors and lashings of gold make the Aquavit dining space a magnificent example of high glamour design. This is nothing to do with the ‘Hygge’ trend you’ve been hearing all about, you won’t be finding fluffy fur rugs or knitted woolen throws here (another brunch fave, Snaps and Rye have this COVERED).
To give you an idea of the caliber of the splendor of the surroundings, it comes from the same design team behind Sexy Fish, Soho House and the Ivy. From the Georg Jensen cutlery to the designer clad wait-staff, every detail has been thought of here and you can’t help but gasp a little in awe.
The oohing and ahhing continues as we slink into the pink leather sofa and peruse the menu. It is a true celebration of Scandinavian cuisine; cured offerings from the sea and foods foraged from the wild, such as berries and mushrooms. We are drawn by a number smorgasbord items, a la carte options and weekend brunch menu dishes, after much deliberation we place our order and sip patiently on our exquisite Nordic cocktails, a Scandi mule for me and a Viking breakfast with Aquavit for my Scandi date.
We opted for Gravlax with mustard and dill sauce, Crab on rye brioche with fennel and the Cured Eel Benedict, supplemented with a bread basket of sweet and chewy Rye. Each dish was impeccably scrumptious, however there is always room for a little more. Luckily, we had saved enough space for the fabled ‘Arctic Bird’s Nest’ dessert. This dessert is almost too beautiful to eat, the food-stylist in me drools over the Rorstrand ‘Ostindia Floris’ porcelain, arranged with chocolate twigs, a honey-crisp pastry nest and a goats cheese ice cream ‘egg’ with a white chocolate shell and a fruity, sea-buckthorn golden yolk.
A second round of cocktails tops off an incredible meal and we step out into the St James sunshine feeling satisfied and confident that we can add another to the growing list of our best brunch spots in London. It is on the pricey side so I would keep this as a special occasion (aka pay-day weekend) brunch outing but one you definitely deserve to experience, go on, treat yourself!
Aquavit is an all day dining restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday, offering a Brunch menu on weekends.