Thursday, October 09, 2008
I discovered a new place to feed that occasional craving for Swedish meatballs I have, and it's not in Red Hook. It's actually right on my way home from the office in a neighborhood that's lacking in low-key, easy, reasonably priced places to get a bite: greater Columbus Circle. It's called AQ Kafe, and it's focused on light Northern European bakery cafe fare (read: mostly Scandinavian). The spare -- though not uninviting -- interior is sort of Le Pain Quotidien meets Ikea showroom floor. The fresh lemonade had the right tang and actually paired well (no wine here) with the lemon vinaigrette in the green salad. There is a side salad and an entree-size one for almost $4 more, but I honestly thought there'd been a mistake when I saw how big the "side salad" actually was. The meatballs are served in two small whole-grain rolls with lingonberry, pickled cucumber slices and just the right amount of cream sauce. As much as I love the ones served up in the shadow of that great blue-and-yellow particle-board paradise, these are pretty sensational. The plate is rounded out with dill potato salad, pickled beets (they're yellow!) and a tiny pickle, just in case you missed the theme. The portion seemed a bit modest upon arrival, but it certainly filled me up while at the same time offering a slightly more piquant kick of flavor than the old standby Ikea cafeteria platter.