Thursday, June 12, 2008

Aqua, Bath

The second restaurant of our trip had a lot to live up to after Circus. From the moment I stepped into new Italian restaurant Aqua I knew it had already surpassed it aesthetically. The former church house has high beamed ceilings and beautiful light is cast through the stained glass windows. It has been glamourously yet sympathetically converted: beautiful chandeliers, soft muted colours, comfortable table and booth seating and the piece de resistance - a galleried area with piano.

We had booked about a week earlier for a pre theatre dinner and arrived at 6pm. There were already several other tables occupied and by the time we left at 7pm it was really quite busy. We began with a selection of breads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The breads were varied, a good mix of white, brown and granary, some softer than others and plenty enough fort two pieces each. Along with tap water we had a bottle of superb red wine - unfortunately I can't remember its name and they don't have their winelist on their website, but it was the second cheapest and so very smooth. Incidentally, they also had some great, and reasonably priced cocktails on their menu.

There is a very wide selection of main courses. Two of us went for pizza - one prosciutto funghi (mozzarella, tomato, ham and mushrooms) and one pollo bianca (mozzarella, chicken, pancetta and rosemary). Both were delicious - nice thin base and reasonable size, not overfacing which I hate. My pancetta was generous and gave a lovely salty accompaniment to the rosemary, really very good - a sentiment echoed by my boyfriend with his funghi. My ma had pumpkin, sage and gorgonzola risotto, which I simply had to try. It was quite a mild dish but that's not to say it wasn't tasty. Risotto can be hit and miss but this had a great texture and consistency and the cheese didn't drown the delicate pumpkin flavours. Finally, a fillet of beef with peppercorn sauce and chips for my pa provoked cries of jealousy from all: cooked exactly to order, it was so tender that he didn't need to use his steak knife. Chips were generous and not greasy, the peppercorn sauce didn't drown the meat. A rocket and parmesan salad was a great side dish, with plenty of cheese.

After such main courses how could we not try pudding? Sicilian lemon sorbet with crystallized ginger was refreshing, my vanilla bean ice cream with espresso and Frangelico was very good although could perhaps be improved if the coffee was warmed to contrast with the icecream. I love hazelnut and the Frangelico didn't disappoint.

Two of the best meals I have had in a very long time, both outside of London.

Two courses and half a bottle of wine: £30 per head

Value: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Atmosphere: 8/10

Food: 7/10

SCORE: 31/40

Aqua Restaurant and Bar, 88 Walcot Street, Bath, BA1 5BD. Tel: 01225 471371.

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