When I read that Aqua was going to open in London, I knew it was already too late to approach them to do their PR - anyway it helps if you are American in order to bag their PR - enough said. So the next best thing was to eat there. Decisions decisions. Aqua Nueva or Aqua Kyoto? Both sounded appealing, so the first visit was to Aqua Nueva, the Spanish Aqua. Again the choice here was restaurant or tapas counter? It was the restaurant this time. I did dislike being given a two hour slot to finish a meal though , when the place was busy but there were plenty of empty tables, and I was not well pleased to be sat in the back part of the restaurant, which is very bright, and very narrow, because most of the area is taken up by the tapas counter. I would have much preferred the larger room at the front, with its subdued lighting and more relaxed atmosphere.
Still, I was in great company, and that was important. Sharing a meal with someone who truly appreciates good food and wine makes all the difference. Service was checkered but pleasant, but let's concentrate on the food. This is a good restaurant, I liked the menu, lots of very assertive flavours and unusual choices, such as roe deer and partridge, well executed. If they lacked the wow factor, there was no reason to complain either. This is very Modern Spanish, in fact, it's more European with a nod to Spain, but nevertheless I liked it. Scallops were juicy and the gutsy mushroom gravy went well with them. Duck breast was cooked to my liking and for this I thank the kitchen - I do hate it when a chef imposes that the meat must be cooked rare 'otherwise it will spoil'. Good desserts - try the Ganduja with white chocolate ice cream, and dont worry, it's small enough not to pile on the calories. Prices are OK too. The wine list was not interesting in the least, and not very Spanish either. So I was pleased to find a red Jumilla 2003 at £23, which ended up being the same wine the waiter would later recommend. This is stunning for the price, velvety and full bodied, with a kick at the end, from a very good vintage. Unless you want to blow £150 in a bottle of Brunello (which is a wine for meditation, which needs to be open well in advance, and should be sipped rather than drank in a noisy restaurant) then go for the Jumilla. But with the dessert, a list of sweet wines was presented, with suggestions of what to drink with what. The best PX was out of stock, so we settled for the house Pedro Ximenes, still excellent, and at £6 a glass, a real snip.
A word of advice: stay away from the champagne cocktails and stick to a glass of champagne or other drink. The rose champagne cocktail was a sickly concoction of rose syrup which ruined a perfectly good glass of champagne and was topped with dry roses pot-pourri style - ghastly! I did not try the ginger champagne cocktail, and perhaps just as well......
Next time it's the tapas counter - and I will be ordering a plate of Pata Negra, even at £18 a plate I still think it's good value for this superlatively fine and melt in the mouth ham.