Tel: +44 (0)20 7478 0540
Address: 5th Floor, 240 Regent Street, entrance at 30 Argyll Street, W1B 3BR
Cuisine Type: Spanish
You might be forgiven for thinking the bringing together of two very different restaurants like Aqua Nueva and Aqua Kyoto is rather strange, but the style of eating in both cultures has some similarity, given the Japanese love of small yakitori sharing dishes and the Spanish love of tapas. Having enjoyed a great meal at Aqua Kyoto a while back, it was time to try its sister restaurant Aqua Nueva.
Both restaurants are accessed by lift from a foyer in Argyll Street and as the doors open you’re greeted at the reception desk to check whether you have a reservation or just want to go to the bar for drinks. Aqua Nueva and Kyoto are separated by a lively bar which is an experience in itself. You approach Aqua Nueva along a corridor at the end of which is a statue of a charging bull – as you get closer it appears more lifelike and a little menacing. Aqua Nueva has a good feel with its comfortable, well upholstered seating, stylish but relaxed decor and subdued lighting in the main body of the restaurant. There’s further seating along by the open food prep area which is brighter and more lively yet is still a comfortable place to be.
For our meal at Aqua Nueva, we had three dishes from the Tapas menu, followed by a fish dish and a meat dish from the mains menu. The first of the Tapas dishes to arrive was the huevo estrellado, a simple but effective dish in which a soft poached egg sat on top of a nest of tiny stick chips, mixed with small diced chorizo and pancetta. It worked well, the oozing yolk providing a sauce that helped bring the other ingredients together. Next came calamari relleno de habas y acieta, quite a dramatic dish of perfectly cooked al dente sautéed squid in which the tentacles were stuffed into the tube with broad beans and some good garlic dressing. A drizzling of squid ink and olive oil and a squid ink crisp finished off this good, full flavoured dish beautifully. Next came bogavante con pancetta, which brought together tender and sweet, spicy, paprika marinated lobster meat sat on top of piece of slow roast crispy pork belly. This was delightful, the well flavoured lobster and the tender pork belly complementing each other surprisingly well.
The mains dishes were merluza vizcaina con salsa arroz negre (hake with black rice, baby squid, aioli, garlic and paprika dressing). This again was delightful; the fillet of hake had a meatiness, yet was soft, flaky and really moist with a nice caramelisation on the skin. The squid was, like the earlier tapas dish, cooked perfectly al dente and tender, the black rice was beautifully flavoured with squid ink and the whole dish had a lovely garlicky hit from the aioli and garlic paprika dressing. It was a great combination. The meat dish was carrillerra de ternera con pure de patatas y piquellos confitado, glazed ox cheek with piquillo peppers and potato puree. This plate of food had big flavour; the slow cooked ox cheek had an intensity of flavour and was so tender it almost dissolved in the mouth without chewing. It was accompanied by its rich jus, undoubtedly made from the braising liquid which was gloriously thick and syrupy in texture. The whole dish was brought together by some seriously buttery potato puree and the lovely peppers that had a little bite.
Desserts were probably unnecessary, but nevertheless irresistible; we chose the canelon de mango y albahaca con helado de fruta de la pasion, a mango and basil cannelloni with passion fruit ice cream. This was effectively a sheet of passion fruit gel made into a roulade with cream cheese and basil, served with some pistachio ‘cotton wool’ (for want of a better description) on which a quenelle of excellent passion fruit ice cream was perched. It was an interesting and marvellous creation. We also had the helado de yogurt con manzana con hinojo confitado y espuma de manzana, a yoghurt ice cream with confit fennel and green apple foam. This was another interesting and delicious dish comprised of an apple and fennel compote topped by the light but sharp apple foam and a quenelle of light but tangibly edgy yoghurt ice cream. Both were excellent dishes.
We had paired wines with our meal, starting with a glass of bone dry fino sherry and then going with the sommelier’s suggestions for each of the courses, but wines at Aqua Nueva range upwards from £22 a bottle if you prefer to select a wine to see you through your meal. Tapas dishes range between £6 to £16 and mains are £20 to £29, desserts are around the £7 mark.
We had a great evening at Aqua Nueva: the service in the restaurant was very good indeed, the ambiance of the place is very relaxed, yet there’s a chic feel about it, which is enhanced by great views across the London skyline – you certainly feel like you’re somewhere special. The food was excellent, innovative yet in some cases quite simple and elegant but always bursting with big flavours. I would absolutely recommend that you go there, it’s a great experience.