A rather grand affair, but still, the living is easy
Nestling into what must be one of jumbly, tumbly Walcot Street’s most interesting buildings, at first glance Aqua looks like a rather formidable stone-fronted chapel. Venture within and give your eyes time to adjust to the candlelight, however, and you’ll find it’s more of a mini-cathedral: cool, chic and infused with an understated sense of drama. There are centre stage tables for the be-seen brigade, while smoochers are drawn to cosier booths or the chic little private dining rooms off the main drag. Meanwhile, downstairs is perfect for big parties and there’s even a pretty little courtyard outback. Overall, then, Aqua is a rather grand affair, but still, the living is easy; there’s a friendly, fuss-free ethos at the heart of the matter, with Italian-themed menus and a general ambience that’s somehow very NYC.
You could, if you were so inclined, do the full-on Italian thing here (antipasti, primi piatti, carne, pesci, etc), but of course, stand-alone pastas, risottos and pizza feature in their own right too. But whatever your preferred route to satiation, do give yourself time to graze through the Small Plates range on the a la carte selection: on our most recent Aqua foray, we sampled the deceptively simple combination of mushrooms, red onion, peas and mint and a second plate of roasted beetroot, pear and goats’ cheese and found ourselves raving about them long after we’d digested our “proper” starters (Fritto Misto and crayfish salad, if you were wondering) and extremely generous main courses (smoked haddock risotto – yum! – and a fully authentic Pollo Farcito). On the food front, it’s safe to say that little has been lost in translation from the original Italian here, so expect well-sourced produce put together with the minimum of fuss to their best advantage. Meanwhile, service is as refreshingly friendly as the surroundings are beyond that rather grand entrance, and the prices most definitely won’t scare the cavalli.
It’s well worth mentioning here too that cocktails and prosecco are writ large on the drinks menu: ease your passage to your Italian feast with a Bellini, currently 2-for-1 from noon-7pm each day – the perfect accompaniment, perhaps, to the well-priced set menus (2-courses £10.95; 3/£12.95) that flaunt themselves during the same hours. Santé!
- Wheelchair access ,
- Free wifi available ,
- Gluten free options ,
- Baby changing facilities
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