Another resident of the Shard, Aqua is largely considered “not as good as Hutong but better than Oblix.” Here, it’s contemporary British food, but you may be better acquainted with its Spanish/Japanese relative, Aqua Nueva – if not for the food, then for the incredible roof terrace just off Regent Street.
We went for the set lunch menu which, on a weekday is an absolute steal at £28 for three courses. It’s a limited menu but at that price you can’t really complain (although if you’re even a slightly picky eater you might struggle). A beautiful, clean salmon starter was followed by a really good pork belly dish – although I would say neither were memorable and the main was a touch on the small side. The cheese board was the hero of the meal – one would have been more than enough for two of us, and I loved that they didn’t scrimp on the crackers.
There’s a really good cocktail menu, but a couple of of ours were a little disappointing (although that could just have been bad choices on our part). One particular hot, winter cocktail was almost pure, hot, brandy with cinnamon in it which was a bit much to accompany a light lunch. I’d recommend trying the bar just for a cocktail though – as you can get all the views without the cost or hassle of booking a table for dinner.
The restaurant is absolutely beautiful, and we were sitting right next to a window so had full opportunity to take advantage of the view. As we went at lunchtime, it was incredibly bright (obviously, due to all the windows) and it does feel a little bit exposed – early evening might be nicer for a date. It certainly has more of the “we’re a swanky white table-cloth restaurant” feel about it than I would like normally and I didn’t feel as comfortable as I have done in other far fancier and more expensive restaurants.
The food was good (and incredibly reasonably priced), the restaurant is lovely and the view is certainly an experience. But (and it’s a big but), it was some of the worst service I’ve ever received in a restaurant. We were asked if we would like a glass of champagne on arrival (lovely), and it didn’t arrive until almost 45 minutes later, and only when prompted. During that time no further drink or food orders were taken and when we eventually managed to order, we had to chase every course (and we weren’t rushing) as it seemed like they kept forgetting we existed (I started to wonder if it was one of those set-up shows at one point) and we had to almost stand on the table and jump up and down waving to be allowed to order more drinks. The maître d’ (I think) was consistently apologetic, but it didn’t improve at any point or come with any drinks while we were waiting, so the apology was only worth so much. The weekday set menu, is, I imagine, usually a business option – so the almost three hours it took us to get through the three courses was frustrating.
You’ve got all the time in the world. I hear the breakfast is excellent.
Don’t go here if…
You’re in a rush on a business lunch, or lunchtime date.
If you’re pretending to have been there don’t forget to mention…
I thought the view from the hutong toilets was good, but this is another level. (And for girls this time too…!)
For more information…