We had heard great things about Aqua – that it’s very family friendly, the food is excellent and the service top class. The wonderful news is that following our visit, we wholeheartedly agree!
Aqua is located on Walcot Street and situated in a former church, which immediately creates an impressive and slightly quirky atmosphere, aided by the large windows at one end, vaulted wooden ceiling and fantastic chandeliers. There are a few tables outside for alfresco dining, although we chose one of the padded booth style tables inside.
From the very start the service was quite superb. Whenever you eat out as a family, there’s the chance that excited children will ask a rapid fire of questions about the menu, what type of drinks are available and whether they serve chips. Our waitress had clearly seen it all before and was just fantastic at answering each in turn, dealing with the questions with good humour and obviously completely comfortable when dealing with the needs of younger diners. Aqua’s family friendly credentials were further boosted by a couple of other families seated nearby, one of whom had gone for the iPad option as the way to keep their children entertained between courses.
When it came to the menu, more good news – plenty to choose from, including a good mix of firm favourites alongside a few less common but equally appealing options.
While my boys went for starters of sourdough, butter and rock salt (£4) and roasted garlic butter and fior di latte cheese flat bread (£5.50), my daughter preferred the fried calamari, while my wife and I both chose the fried enoki mushrooms and smoked garlic aioli (£6). The drinks, meanwhile, included a predictable well known fizzy drinks, alongside an Italian Garden (fresh mint and lime, Bristol gin, St Germain elderflower liquer and apple juice £9) from the impressive list of cocktails and less spectacular half of Italian lager for me.
The first course was big success – beautifully prepared and portioned, with the boys in particular saying how much they loved their food. The mushrooms were excellent too, lots of crispy bite and brought to life by the fresh and flavoursome garlic aioli.
With a perfect break before our mains arrived, we checked out the impressive artwork on the walls while my youngest was dying to find a way up the balcony overlooking the eating area. Perhaps our only criticism of the venue was that it was it little too dark, with just the chandeliers at one end and candle lighting on the table helping to create a wonderful atmosphere, but a little too low key to see the food. Still, as soon as we mentioned this to our waitress, she immediately brought over an extra candle before offering more still if we needed them.
When it came to the main courses, the boys went for a fillet steak with peppercorn sauce and rocket and parmesan (£27), and a beef burger with onion rings, salad and cheese – hold the mayo (£15) – both served with triple cooked chips. My daughter and I both opted for the Aqua’s duck two ways – duck breast served pink, confit duck leg, grilled pak choi, squash and cherry jus (£19), while my wife preferred the cod supreme, dauphinoise, rainbow chard and samphire butter (£18).
The duck was superb – perfectly cooked and full of flavour, with the breasts just a joy and a perfect complement to the duck legs, a response shared by daughter and confirmed by the empty plates left a little time later.
As for the boys, perhaps they indulged a little too much on the starters and chips, as both were unable to finish their main courses (although we did take the rest of burger home with us, thanks to our ever helpful waitress).
Now as we all know, it’s amazing how children can’t always finish their mains but still have room for desert… Mind you, there was good reason, with Aqua’s desert menu featuring the boys’ favourite – red berry créme brulée with sugar glaze (£6.50). Actually, my youngest was happy to go for the miniature version, usually offered with a coffee for a combined price of £6. While my wife also went for one of the miniature dishes – the fig, honey and almond tarte, my daughter and I chose to share the chocolate dome, hazelnut torte, salted caramel sauce and ice cream (£12 to share), with the waiter making suitable occasion of his pouring the warm sauce over the chocolate dome to make it melt away to expose the sponge inside.
We all agreed that the deserts were real highlights of the meal – suitably indulgent and a perfect end to our first visit to Aqua.
So did we enjoy our meal out? Absolutely, with special praise for the duck and deserts, and even more for the excellent service from the waiters and manager Pawel. It really is so good to find a restaurant in Bath that is happy and comfortable to welcome families. To be recommended.